Mexico Civil Registration

From FamilySearch Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Mexico Wiki Topics
Palacio de las Bellas Artes (Mexico City).jpg
Beginning Research
Record Types
Mexico Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources
The FamilySearch moderator for Mexico is Dwsmith2

Video Tutorials[edit | edit source]

Definition[edit | edit source]

Civil registration records (also known as vital records) are important for genealogical research in Mexico. Civil authorities began registering births, marriages, and deaths in 1859 and most individuals who lived in Mexico after 1867 are recorded. Because the records cover such a large percentage of the population, they are extremely important sources for genealogical research in Mexico.

For birth, death, and marriage records before 1859, see Mexico Church Records

Time Coverage[edit | edit source]

The earliest vital records in Mexico were made by the Catholic Church. In the late 1850s the Mexican government recognized the need for accurate vital records. On 28 July 1859, President Benito Juárez, speaking in Veracruz, established the Civil Registration Office (Registro Civil). The new law determined both the standards and information to be recorded. Justices of civil registration were established throughout the republic to implement the process of creating, witnessing, and safeguarding the civil register. Initially, the Mexican populace, accustomed to registering its vital events with the local parish church, opposed the register. It was not until the republic was restored in 1867 that civil registration was vigorously enforced.

Although civil registration records are an important source for genealogical research in Mexico, many births, marriages, and deaths were never recorded by civil authorities; therefore, you must use church records to supplement this genealogical source.

The British government also kept civil registration records for British citizens living in Mexico from 1827 to 1926:

Types of Records[edit | edit source]

The information recorded in civil registration records varied over time. Later records generally give more complete information than the earlier ones.

Birth, marriage, and death records may either be handwritten or typed, and are often indexed by given name or surname.

Births (nacimientos)[edit | edit source]

Births were usually registered by the infant’s father or by a neighbor of the family within a few days of the event. If you are having trouble locating the birth record, keep in mind that the birth might have been reported months or years later. It is not common but it does happen. A birth record usually includes:

  • Day and time of birth
  • Names of the child and parents
  • Birthplace, which may be different from where it was registered
  • Address of the house or hospital in which the birth took place.

Family information may be included, such as:

  • Parents’ ages, birthplaces, residences, marital status, and professions
  • Number of other children born to the mother (occasionally).
  • Names of grandparents.

Corrections or additions to a birth record may have been added as a note in the margin.These notes might include information about the marriage or death of the child.

Marriages (matrimonios)[edit | edit source]

Early civil marriage entries simply contained the name of the bride and groom and the marriage date. Gradually more information was entered such as:

  • Ages of the bride and groom
  • Birthplaces
  • Occupations
  • Civil status (if either had been married previously)
  • Residence of bride and groom
  • Names of parents

In current civil marriage records even street addresses are given.

The Catholic Church continued keeping records after the creation of the civil registration in 1859. Therefore two types of records are available for the marriages. Be sure to search both records.

With the separation of church and state in Mexico, formalized by the 1917 constitution, civil authorities determined that for couples to be legally married they had to be married by the state. Because of the close affinity of the Catholic Church and the state authorities, this rule was not always followed, and church weddings were accepted by the state. Normally, however, couples were married by civil authorities prior to a church wedding. On rare occasions they were married civilly after a church wedding.

Deaths (defunciones)[edit | edit source]

Early civil death records are especially helpful because they might list people for whom there are no birth or marriage records. Deaths were recorded in the town or city where the person died, within a few days of the death. Death records may provide the following information:

  • Name of decedent
  • Date and place of death
  • Birthplace and/or age at death
  • Name of spouse, if married
  • Names of parents, usually if the person was single.
  • Residence of decedent
  • Occupation of decedent
  • Cause of death (in more recent years)
  • Burial information
  • Name of informant (in more recent years)

Be aware that information found in a death record about the deceased person’s parents, birth date, birthplace, and other information may be inaccurate as the person who gave the information may not have had complete information.

Divorce Records[edit | edit source]

Divorce was not legalized in Mexico until after the 1917 constitution. Divorces are not recorded with the civil registration, but rather with the municipio courts. The Family History Library has very few divorce records in its collection. You may obtain information from divorce records by contacting the court of the town or municipio where the divorce took place.

Extract Forms[edit | edit source]

The following extract forms were created by Dr. George Ryskamp, JD, AG. These particular forms are designed to be used for Spanish research; however, they can help in other research areas, such as Italy, France, Portugal, etc. Click on the type of record form you would like to use and print it for your own files.

Birth/Baptism Extract Form

Marriage Extract Form

Death/Burial Extract Form

These forms are designed to help you quickly analyze and organize your documents. They can become a personal index for your family records.

Locating Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

Online Collections in FamilySearch Historical Records[edit | edit source]

There is a listing of all records collections available on The listing below might be out of date, so if you do not find your state, be sure to check this link.

Records in the FamilySearch Collection[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has microfilmed the civil registration records of thousands of municipios throughout Mexico. These records are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Civil registration for the states of Sinaloa, and Tabasco have not been microfilmed. Campeche records are very incomplete through 1930 because most records were destroyed; most the records of Tabasco were burned; Morelos has some missing records; and some of the records of Quintana Roo were microfilmed in Yucatán.

For the states that kept records on a municipio or municipality level, you will need to know the town where your family lived and to which municipio the town belonged. A gazetteer will help you find the municipio level for your town.

Some municipios are small and therefore only have one civil registration office, but there are other larger municipios that have several sub civil registration offices that report to the main municipio office.

The specific holdings of the Family History Library are listed in the FamilySearch Catalog. To find civil registration records, search in the "Locality" section of the FamilySearch Catalog under:




The library’s collection continues to grow as new records are microfilmed and added to the collection from numerous sources. Do not give up if records are not yet available. The FamilySearch Catalog is updated periodically, so check it occasionally for the records you need.

Writing for Civil Registration Certificates[edit | edit source]

Civil registration records are kept by all the states on a municipio level. The exceptions are the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, where the records are recorded by the municipio but are archived on a district level, and the Distrito Federal (Federal District), where they are kept in delegations. Because of this, it is difficult to obtain records from these two states and the Federal District. In these three instances, as well as in the rest of the nation, the populace still registered in their local civil registration offices, from which the records were sent to the municipio office, district office, or delegation office. If you know the town where your family lived, you should be able to find the local civil registration office.

Each state now has a central civil registration office to which you can write for information. Birth, marriage, and death records may be obtained by contacting or visiting local civil registration offices and state civil archives in Mexico. To protect the rights of privacy of living persons, most records with current information have restrictions on their use and access. The present location of records depends on whether local offices have sent their records to the higher jurisdiction. Most recent records will be found in the local civil registration offices. Older records may be found in the municipio or state archive. An online source for Civil Registry

You may obtain copies of civil registration records in Mexico by writing to the local civil registry in the municipio. However, some archives will not send photocopies, and some will also ask for power of attorney to receive a certificate of an individual other than the correspondent. Civil officials will generally answer correspondence in Spanish. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to state archives. Relatives are allowed to request recent records for genealogy purposes.

State Offices for Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

Addresses for central state offices can be found in these articles:

Local Civil Registrars[edit | edit source]

You can also write to local offices, using this address as a guide, replacing the information in parentheses:

Oficino del Registro Civil
(postal code), (city), (state)

How to Write the Letter[edit | edit source]

Write your request in Spanish whenever possible. For writing your letter in Spanish, use the translated questions and phrases in this Spanish Letter-writing Guide.
Send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record

Search Strategies[edit | edit source]

To effectively use civil records, follow these steps:

  1. Search for the relative or ancestor you have selected. When you find the person’s birth record, search for the births of his or her brothers and sisters.
  2. Search for the marriage of his or her parents. The marriage record will often give you information that leads to the parents’ birth record.
  3. Estimate the parents’ age and search for their birth records.
  4. Repeat the process for both the father and mother.
  5. If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring municipios.
  6. Search the death records for all family members.