Belgium Civil Registration

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Belgium
Civil Registration

Historical Background

In 1795-1796 what is now Belgium was conquered by the Napoleonic regime, who introduced a system of civil registration throughout their territories. The first records were written in French and use the French Revolutionary Calendar. In 1815, Belgium was merged with what is now the Netherlands, creating the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands had also been conquered by Napoleon and from 1811 had a Civil Registration system. Both countries continued with this system. In 1830 Belgium became independent, but continued to keep civil registration records in a manner very similar to the Dutch system.

Contents of the records

The records will be either in Dutch, French, or German, depending on the language locally spoken and the political situation.

Many smaller towns put births, marriages and deaths all together in chronological order, while later records and those from larger towns and cities usually divide the records into births, marriages and deaths separately.

Births

A typical Belgium birth record contains:

  • The child's name
  • The birth place and date
  • The names of the parents, their residence, occupations, sometimes ages
  • The name of the informant, their occupation and sometimes age and relationship to the child
A Dutch birth record

Marriages

A typical Belgium marriage record contains:

  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Place and Date of the marriage
  • Their ages, residences, occupations and birthplaces.
  • The names of their parents, their occupations and sometimes ages or whether still alive
  • Any former spouses
  • Witnesses, and their occupations, and who performed the ceremony

Marriage Supplements may contain

  • Copies of birth or baptism records of the bride and groom
  • Copies of the deaths of the parents of the bride and groom
  • Deaths of or divorces from former spouses
  • Consent from the parents

Marriage proclamations may contain:

  • Names of prospective marriage partners
  • Their residence, age, occupation
  • Their intended date of marriage
  • Their parents
A Dutch marriage record

Deaths

A typical Belgium death record contains;

  • Name of deceased,
  • Their death date and place
  • Their age, birthplace, occupation
  • Their current and former spouses
  • Names of their parents, if known
  • Name of the informant and their residence
A Dutch death record

Divorces

The divorce will be noted on the original marriage record. There is no separate "Divorce Record'

Tables

Indexes covering a period of years(most commonly one and ten) were drawn up in alphabetical order. These list all the events that occurred in that place over the time period. Use the information given to find the original, such as date, page number or act number.

Accessing the Records

Online Digital Records at the State Archives

The State [i.e. Federal] Archives of Belgium/Rijksarchief in België/Les Archives de l'Etat en Belgique has images and some indexes for civil registration records before 1915. Free registration is required to view the records The site comes in English, French, German or Dutch(see top left corner)

Most of the records are available only as images. They can be browsed here. A few have been indexed. They can be searched here. The images placed online are not necessarily the entirety of the records are available- the remaining records would need to be viewed in person at the archives. Nonetheless, the vast majority have been placed online.

FamilySearch

FamilySearch has also indexed many records and placed their images online. Their coverage is not complete.

For the records they have indexed, search on FamilySearch.

For Images, you can either browse the historical record collections (see below), use the FamilySearch Catalog, or Zoekakten. There is known to be a significant number of images not yet placed in the historical record collections, so look in all three of these places if you can't find a record.

Alternatively, the IGI captured some civil registration records and are included on FamilySearch.

GeneaKnowHow

Geneaknowhow is a site that provides links to various local genealogical sites for Belgium and the Netherlands, including many containing civil registration records.

Records after 1915

Records less than 100 years old are not open to the general public, and those after 1915 are not online. These records can only be viewed by special permission after writing to the municipal authorities of the municipality where the event occurred. A fee may be charged.

Write to:

Gemeentebestuur

De Ambtenaar van de BURGERLIJKE STAND

Gemeentehuis

BE - (postal code) (name of municipality)

Belgium

What to send:

Send the following:

  • A request for them to tell you the fees and how they should be paid.
  • Full name and the sex of the person sought.
  • Names of the parents, if known.
  • Approximate date and place of the event.
  • Your exact relationship to the person.
  • Reason for the request (family history or medical).
  • Request for a complete extract of the record

Writing the letter

This Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy will help you with composing your letter

References