Netherlands Civil Registration

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Beginning Research
Record Types
The Netherlands Background
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The FamilySearch moderator for The Netherlands is Daniel Jones.

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Burgerlijke Stand / Civil Registration[edit | edit source]

General Historical Background

From about 1550 onward, Church records began to be kept in the Netherlands. These recorded baptisms (or circumcisions), marriages, and burials. Between 1795 and 1811 the Netherlands became increasingly influenced by France. Church records from that time, especially marriages and burials, became more detailed. In 1810 the Netherlands was incorporated into the Napoleonic empire.

On 6 January 1811 the French Imperial (Napoleon) decree served notice that by 1 March 1811 all births, marriages and deaths had to be recorded by the civil authorities of each municipality. The civil officers were made responsible for keeping vital records. Civil registration was accomplished by requiring the people to report all births, marriages, and deaths to a civil registration office [Burgerlijke Stand], located in the municipality [gemeente]. After Napoleon's defeat, the Dutch government continued the civil registration system.

In Limburg and parts of Zeeland, civil registration began as early as 1795, because they had already been conquered by France. They cover the entire population and have one year and 10 year indexes. Civil registration records are the most important source for genealogical research in the Netherlands and are easily accessible.

Information in Records[edit | edit source]

Geboorten / Births[edit | edit source]

The following information will usually be found in a birth entry:

  • The name of the child.
  • The birth date of the child.
  • The birth place of the child.
  • The names of the child's parents.
  • The residence of the parents
  • The ages and occupation of the parents.
  • The names, ages, occupations, and residences of the witnesses.
  • The relationships of the witnesses to the child, if any.
  • It will never say if the child is legitimate or illegitimate.

If a child was born out of wedlock it will not usually mention a father, even if he is known. If the child's parents do later marry and the father acknowledge the child as his, it will mention this in the margin.At that time the last name of the child will also change from the mother's last name to the father's last name. However this does not mean that he is the biological father! If the child is illegitimate, but the father is named, there is no reason to suspect false paternity. Church Records may be of use in these situations, but are difficult to access.

Huwelijken / Marriages[edit | edit source]

The following information will usually be found in a marriage entry:

  • The names of the bride and the groom.
  • The ages, residence, birthplace and occupations of the bride and groom.
  • The date of marriage.
  • The names of the parents and their residence and occupation, if living.
  • Whether the bride and groom were single or widowed before the marriage.
  • The names of the witnesses, their ages, occupations, residence, and relationship to the bride or groom, if any.

The following records will usually be found in a Huwelijksbijlagen (Marriage supplement):

  • Copies of birth or baptism records of bride and groom.
  • Military conscription record of groom, containing name, birthdate, and parents, and sometimes a physical description.
  • Copies of death or burial records of deceased former spouse.
  • Copies of death or burial records of parents, if the marrying person is under 30 (and sometimes if they are over 30).
  • In earlier years (pre-1850), if both parents are dead, and the bride or groom is under 30, death or burial records of grandparents.

The following records related to marriage also exist:

  • Marriage Intentions [Huwelijksaangiften] were made a few days before the first marriage proclamation. The couple were required to announce their intention to marry in the residence of both bride and groom. This allowed other community members the opportunity to raise any objections to the marriage. The intentions give the couple’s names, ages, marital statuses before the marriage, occupations, and residences. From 1811 to 1879 the records were combined with the marriage proclamations in one register. After 1879 they were placed in separate registers. They were not prepared in duplicate and are not indexed. Marriage intentions were discontinued in 1935.
  • Marriage Proclamations [Huwelijksafkondigingen], also called marriage banns, were published for two weeks in a row. They provide the couple’s names, ages, marital statuses before the marriage, occupations, and residences. They also give the names of the parents and their occupations, residences, and marital statuses. Like the marriage intentions, the proclamations were not prepared in duplicate and are not indexed. They were kept in the same register as the intentions until 1879 and were discontinued in 1935.
  • Marriage Consents [Huwelijkstoestemmingen]. Parents were normally present at the wedding and stated that they gave their consent for the couple to marry. If parents were absent, their written permission would be included with the marriage supplements. Beginning in 1913, separate registers were used to record the parents’ permission for the bride and groom to marry.

Echtscheidingen / Divorces[edit | edit source]

Divorce cases are handled by the district courts. A record of the divorce will be recorded at the back of the marriage register of the municipality where the couple lived at the time of their divorce. For large cities in later years they will be in separate registers. There is usually a note in the margin of the original marriage record. Divorces before the 20th century were uncommon.

Overlijden / Deaths[edit | edit source]

Death records are especially helpful because they may provide important information on a person’s birth, spouse, and parents. Civil death records often exist for individuals for whom there are no birth or marriage records. Deaths were usually registered within three days of the death in the municipality where the person died. If the deceased person was not a resident of that town, often a copy would be sent to that person's residence.

The following information will usually be found in a death record:

  • The name of the deceased.
  • The date of death.
  • The names of the deceased's parents.
  • The name of the deceased's spouse.
  • The age of the deceased at the time of death.
  • The place of the deceased's birth.
  • The occupation of the deceased.
  • The names of the witnesses, their ages, occupations, residence, and relationship if any.

Remember, married women are always recorded under their maiden surname. The informant’s name (often a relative) is also given.

Information about parents, the birth date and birthplace of the deceased, and other information in a death record may be inaccurate since the person who gave the information may not have had complete information.

Children who died before the declaration of birth was made are recorded as stillborn and are found only in the death records. This also means that when a child is recorded as stillborn it may not necessarily be true, as a birth had to be recorded within 3 days of birth. In other words, if the child died within those three days, it would most likely not be recorded in the birth records. When looking for a stillborn child you may have to look in the index under 'L' for 'Levenloos' (stillborn),

Those people who were born without a fixed surname are probably recorded under a patronymic or were "given" a surname posthumously, often based on the farm they were born at or lived at.

Overlijden/ Deaths after 1940[edit | edit source]

See the page Netherlands Population Registers for information about ordering these records. These records are not Civil Registration.

Finding Netherlands Civil Registration Records Online[edit | edit source]

Access to Netherlands Civil Registration records online is excellent. There is no need to use microfilms or to visit archives. Nearly all records have survived, since two copies were made of each record and stored separately. The losses that have occurred are mostly Marriage Supplements, since they were not duplicated.

Law allows Birth records up to 1919, marriage records up to 1944 and death records up to 1969 to be released to the public as of 2020. Archives can be up to 10 years behind in putting them online.

First search these sites to find a record:

  • WieWasWie is the official government site and has almost all marriages online, many deaths and some births. Some will have a link to the original image attached. For free you can search for 1 or 2 people with an exact spelling. With a subscription you can search with wildcards. WatZitErIn has a list of what is available on WieWasWie; however, the dates it gives are often inaccurate.
  • OpenArch is another site, similar to WieWasWie, but with slightly more records and a better search engine. Netherlands, Archival Indexes, Vital Records on FamilySearch indexes the same records on OpenArch but allows you to attach any sources found in the index directly to Family Tree.
  • The websites of local and provincial archives are all free, and may have slightly more records or better links to images than WieWasWie. See Netherlands Regional Websites.
  • FamilySearch is beginning to put indexed records online. Most significant are their Delft and Amsterdam births collections, which cannot be found on WieWasWie. For example, the Amsterdam births can be found at Netherlands, Noord-Holland, Civil Registration, 1811-1950.
  • Geneaknowhow has transcriptions and family reconstructions by individuals and local historical societies.
  • The authorities drew up one- and ten-year indexes (tienjarigetafels) by municipality. The births, marriages, and deaths are generally separate. These are both available through FamilySearch. The one-year indexes are located at the end of each year's records. Ten-year tables are located separately under Tafels. The names will be listed alphabetically, though sometimes only the first letter is alphabetized. It will have the date of the record, but not the act number. Only the name of the main person or people (child, bride and groom, or the deceased) will be included.

Then find the original image if you have not already:

  • Genealogie Werkbalk makes browsing images put online by FamilySearch somewhat easier. It has nearly universal coverage of what has survived. The images are black and white, and some are poor quality.
  • The websites of local and provincial archives should also contain images. Often the quality and color is better than those on FamilySearch.

Online Records at FamilySearch[edit | edit source]

Wiki articles describing online collections are found at

Marriage Supplements[edit | edit source]

Especially for earlier marriages, viewing the marriage supplements can be very useful. The example below shows a typical scenario:

It is desired to find the marriage supplements of Cornelis Josephus Johannes Alewisius Baar and Maria Rijnders who married in Arnhem on 8 June 1881, act number 141 (as found on WieWasWie).

1. Go to Genealogie Werkbalk, search for marriage [trouwen/huwelijk] records from Arnhem in 1881. A film for Huwelijksbijlagen from 1881-1882 is available.

2. Number cards on the corner exist here. Go to thumbnail view and they can still be read.

3. Thumbnail view from image 750 shows that act number 141 covers images 733-738.

In this example, the supplements contain the following:

  • Birth certificate of the groom.
  • Military conscription record of the groom.
  • Birth certificate of the bride.
  • Death certificate of the bride's mother.
  • A copy of the couple's marriage proclamation.

Guidance[edit | edit source]

Applying for Recent Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

Privacy Laws[edit | edit source]

In some cases, you will wish to get records for Dutch ancestors who lived recently, during the time when records are not public.

  • Netherlands birth records are public after 100 years
  • Netherlands marriage records are public after 75 years
  • Netherlands death records are public after 50 years

There is some discretion exercised by each office, but sometimes with permission from the person involved or proof of their death, and proof of your close relationship, you might successfully request certificates.

Find an Address[edit | edit source]

Many municipalities have been absorbed or merged. Often the quickest way to find which municipality a place lies within today is to find the place on (Dutch) Wikipedia. A more formal resource is the Repertorium van Nederlandse Gemeenten vanaf 1812 (Overview of Dutch municipalities since 1812), which dates from 2011 (dozens of municipalities have been merged since then) and is a Gazetteer that shows changes in municipalities over the years, including merges. Skip over the introductory material to where the actual listings begin on page 52. The first line gives the existence dates. "Afgesplitst" means "split off of," "toegevoegd" means "added," "opgegaan in" means "merged," and "ontstaan uit" means "originated from."

To find an address, you can probably locate a website for the office using Google.

Written Request[edit | edit source]

Use e-mail to ask for that office's requirements and how to arrange for payment. Generally, however, you will need to include:

  • Full name of the person(s) whose record you are ordering.
  • Date of the event.
  • Municipality where the event took place.
  • Reason why you need the certificate.
  • Copy of your passport.
  • Signed permission of the person(s) involved and a copy of their passport, unless deceased.
  • Proof of death of the person(s) involved, if deceased.
  • Proof of your immediate relationship.
  • Your full name and current address.
  • Your signature.

References[edit | edit source]