Switzerland Civil Registration

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Online Records[edit | edit source]

Definition[edit | edit source]

Civil registration (Zivilstand / état civil / stato civile) is the government record of births, marriages, and deaths. These civil registers are kept by the local civil registration office (Zivilstandsamt / service de l'état civil / ufficio dello stato civile) of each political community. Beginning on January 1, 1876, the civil registration office kept two separate sets of books: A-registers (records of births, marriages, and deaths occurring in the community regardless of citizenship) and B-registers (births, marriages, and deaths of citizens of the community that occurred outside the community). In 1928, the B-registers were discontinued and officially replaced by family registers (Familienregister / registres des familles / registro delle famiglie) kept by the civil registrar, though in most places these were already being kept.

Since 1876, many civil registration offices have merged into larger civil registration districts. Records from the original offices were moved to the new districts. In some areas, records over 100 years old have been moved to city or cantonal archives.

Time Coverage[edit | edit source]

Nationwide civil registration began on January 1, 1876. Several cantons began keeping records earlier; pre-1876 records may look different depending on the canton:

    • Basel-Landschaft (BL): 1827
    • Fribourg (FR): 1849
    • Genève (GE): 1798
    • Glarus (GL): 1849
    • Neuchâtel (NE): 1825
    • Sankt Gallen (SG): 1867
    • Schaffhausen (SH): 1849
    • Solothurn (SO): 1836
    • Ticino (TI): 1855
    • Vaud (VD): 1821
    • Valais (VS): 1853

Register Types[edit | edit source]

Birth Registers[edit | edit source]

Birth registers (Geburtsregister / Registres des naissances / Registri delle nascite) include the following information:

  • Date of registration of the birth
  • Name, residence, and occupation of the informant (usually the father or the midwife)
  • Names, residences, and occupations of the witnesses
  • Name of the mother and father
  • Date and specific place of birth of child
  • Full name of the child

Marriage Registers[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers (Eheregister / Registres des mariages / Registri del matrimonio) include the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names, place of citizenship, ages, residences, and occupations of bride and groom
  • Names, place of citizenship, residence, and occupation of parents
  • Names of witnesses and person who performed the ceremony
  • Sometimes birth dates of the bride and groom

Death registers[edit | edit source]

Death registers (Todesregister / Registres des décès / Registri della morte) include the following information:

  • Date of registration
  • Name and residence of informant
  • Name of deceased
  • Place of citizenship
  • Date and place of death
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Names of parents
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Sometimes cause of death
  • Sometimes place of birth
  • Sometimes names of children

Family Registers[edit | edit source]

Family registers (Familienregister / registres des familles / registri delle famiglie) consist of a separate page for each male married citizen and includes information about his spouse(s) and children. Entries may include the couple’s parents’ names, the place of citizenship of the spouse(s), birth and marriage information about the children, and notes about occupation, emigration, or other unusual circumstances.

Family books (Familienbücher, Familienrodel) and citizens' books (Bürgerbücher, Bürgerrodel) were kept by some communities as early as the 1700s, and were widespread in German areas in the 1820s. They were kept by the local priest to keep track of all citizens (Bürger) of the parish regardless of residence. Some parish offices created non-citizen resident (Beisass, Niedersass) family books as well.

Accessing the Records[edit | edit source]

Currently, records after 1876 are restricted nationwide in Switzerland except for direct descendants. For the few cantons that have relaxed this restriction, most restrictions are for between 100-120 years. Few civil registration records are available online. Requests for information concerning ancestral families must be made by writing to the appropriate civil registry office.
When writing for records, access is generally restricted to direct-line relatives. Be prepared to provide proof of relationship (documentation connecting you to the ancestor), as well as proof of identity (a copy of passport or government-issued ID).

Finding the Civil Registration Office[edit | edit source]

  • To find the civil registration office for any current or former municipality (back to 1962), the address can be accessed from the Swiss federal government website by clicking here. The top box, Wohnort/Ereignisort (residence or event location) is for the municipality where the event took place. The second box, Heimatort (place of citizenship) is for the municipality where the person holds citizenship. As you type in the name of your municipality in either box, a list of options will appear. Click on the town of interest, and the office will appear under Suchresultat (search results), along with the address and email.

Note that contact information for civil registration offices can also be found on the individual parish pages in the FamilySearch Wiki.

Writing for Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

Online Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]

  • Genève (GE): Civil records are available online through 1880 at the Genève Archive.