China Civil Registration
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The historical record of household registration in ancient China can be dated back as early as the Sia Dynasty (twenty-first century BC) when households were enumerated when Yu the Great attempted to pacify the Great Flood.
Before Qing Dynasty
During Jhou Dynasty
The birthplace of residents was recorded along with gender, birth, and death, which was the earliest form of identity registration.
Chin and Han Periods
Classification of counties and cities was based on the number of households. Political systems and implementation were also based on the number of households.
The census was conducted regularly every year, and the results were used as a basis for enlistment and taxation.
Jin and Sui Periods
In the early Jin dynasty, local administrative structures were based on the number of households.
In the early Sui dynasty, an equal field system was adopted and land was distributed household-wise.
Tang and Song Periods
The Ministry of Revenue was in charge of the equal field per household policy.
In the early Song dynasty, household registration was conducted; however, it emphasized male family members only. Therefore, although registration was conducted, it did not reflect the correct number of the entire population.
Yuan, Ming, and Qing Periods
People were classified into civilian and military, and their population was recorded accordingly by civil and military registration.
The Ministry of Revenue was in charge of civil registration. A leaflet was distributed to each household, recording the name, age and birthplace of each family member for verification (similar to today's household certificate).
A household law was adopted in 1644. Under the law, each household was assigned a board on which the name and traveling history of each member was recorded. Lodges were given a different booklet, aiming to investigate present population, in particular the management of the migrating population.
In 1758, a local policing regulation was adopted. Under this law, each household was annually assigned a door sign on which the name, age, occupation of the owner, number of members in the household, and migration were recorded.
It is evident from these records that, since the Qing dynasty, ancient household registration started to form two systems in which the household registration was separate from the police household.
Modern Household Registration
During the Dutch's Occupation of Taiwan
Taiwan's household registration began during the middle of the Dutch occupation. In 1647, the Dutch began to conduct census and household registration in line with its colonial policies. They also collected a head tax, marking the earliest civil registration records available in Taiwan.
During Japan's Colonial Rule of Taiwan
The Japanese conducted household registration in line with their colonial policies in Taiwan. They also used the registration to investigate the labor force and maintain public safety. In 1906, Taiwan's civil registration was instituted, with two systems of registering permanent residents and migrating people. Household investigation was done by the police authorities, and household registration was done by the local registrar's offices at a regional level.
During the Early Restoration Period
Household registration mostly followed the practices adopted during the Japanese colonial period. Taiwan's household registration law and its implementation guidelines were promulgated in 1946. A dual track system was adopted in which household registration and enforcement were carried out by civil affairs authorities and police authorities, respectively.
During the Martial Law Period
During the Martial Law Period, the dual track system was discarded, and civil and police authorities were combined to implement household administration.
After the Martial Law Was Lifted
Since 1 July 1992, civil affairs authorities have taken over household registration again, and civil authorities and police authorities assumed their responsibilities, respectively.
On 29 June 1992, the registration of origin in Mainland China was abolished. On 21 May 1997, the registration of occupation was abolished.
Computerization of Household Administration
The computerization project was carried in three phases:
- Phases 1 and 2: complete computerization of household administration in Taipei and Kaohsiung after 5 June 1995
- Phase 3: complete computerization of all household registration island-wide after 30 September 1997, providing inter-office services online and connections to other pertinent agencies.
The launch of electronic services has opened a new page in the history of household registration and serves as a solid foundation for promoting administrative renovation.
In Hong Kong registration of births and deaths actually began in 1842, but was not required by law until 1883; marriage records were not required by law until 1971, earlier marriage records are incomplete and mainly for Europeans. Birth and death records prior to 1873 and marriage records prior to 1945 have been lost.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: China,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1997.