Netherlands Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article contains information about records in multiple collections. See the section FamilySearch Historical Record Collections for a list of published collections.
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Flag of Netherlands
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Map of Netherlands
Record Description
Record Type Civil Registration
Language: Dutch, Flemish, and French
Title in the Language: Nederlandse Burgerlijke Registratie
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in This Collection?

These collections include images of the records of civil births, marriages, marriage intentions, marriage proclamations, marriage supplements, deaths, and 10-year indexes. The events are recorded either totally by hand or in partially preprinted books where the information was then entered by hand. This collection of records has been preserved relatively well; however, some older records may have some physical damage. The records are generally in Dutch, Flemish, and French.

Sometimes the original record book contained one type of entry, such as births. The books may contain multiple record types, such as births, deaths, and marriages. Therefore, as you search the records, you will find a mixture of record types even though the heading mentions only one type of record initially. The heading may change as you search the specific collection to reflect the variety of records it contains. Thus, searching in marriages may lead to both marriage and divorce records. The same will be true when searching divorces.

The French emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, introduced civil registration in the Netherlands at the time of the French occupation in the late 1700s, beginning mainly in the southern provinces. In 1811, the rest of the country began implementing the recording of births, marriages, and deaths using a standard format. Two copies of the records were created; one stayed in the local registration district, and the second was sent annually to the district court. The district court created the ten-year indexes and eventually deposited the records and ten-year indexes in the provincial archives. 

The civil registration serves to officially record the events of birth, marriage, and death in a person’s life. These records also serve for statistical purposes. In the earlier years, the records were also used for military drafting.

The civil registration records for the Netherlands are a reliable source for genealogical research after 1811. For events prior to March 1811, it is best to search church records.

Fast Start to Netherlands Civil Registration Records

To quickly start finding your family in the Dutch Civil Registration records, go to the website as indicated in the related website links below. There is an English version available on the website, just click the "English" tab when you get there.

Collection Contents

Birth records may include the following information:

  • Name of the child
  • Gender of the child
  • Child’s place of birth
  • Date and time of birth
  • Parents’ names, including the mother’s maiden name
  • Parents' occupations, ages, and marital statuses
  • Names of witnesses, who could also be family members

Marriage records may include the following information:

  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Marital statuses
  • Places of birth and ages
  • Place, date, and time of the event
  • Occupations and residence
  • Parents’ names, their residences, and occupations if living
  • Names of witnesses, who could also be family members

Death records may include the following information:

  • Name of the deceased person
  • Date and place of death
  • Gender and age of the deceased
  • Deceased’s place of birth
  • Occupation of the person at the time of death
  • Spouse’s name and occupation, if the deceased was married
  • Deceased’s death place
  • Parents’ names, occupations, and residence if living; if not living, the place of death
  • Name and information of the informant, who could be a relative
  • Names of witnesses, who could also be relatives

How Do I Search the Collection?

It is important to know that in order to search a birth record, one needs to search by the given name of the child, the mother’s maiden name, and the father’s name. Children are never labeled as “illegitimate,” but the mother is noted as being “unmarried.” If the father and mother of the child later marry, it will be noted in the margin of the birth certificate with an indication that the child is “recognized” as theirs. Also, the child’s last name will be changed to the father’s last name. In this case, the child is given the mother’s last name at birth but later on in life will go by the father’s last name.

If you believe a marriage took place but cannot find a record of the marriage, search records of intent to marry. Take note of the marriage entry number; you will need this to locate the marriage supplements, which are the documents filed by the bride and groom in support of their application to be married.

Civil death records often exist for individuals who do not have birth or marriage records. Married women are recorded under their maiden surname.

For Help Reading These Records

These records are in Dutch. For help with reading the records, see the following resources:

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • The father’s profession can lead you to other types of records such as military records.
  • The parents' birth places as well as burial places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. If the surname is unusual, you may want to compile birth entries for every person of the same surname and sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the birth records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same county or nearby.
  • The information in birth records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from record to record.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for alias names, nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities. Be aware that boundary changes could have occurred and the record of your ancestor is now in a neighboring locality.
  • If the collection has a name search, try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals that may be your ancestor.

FamilySearch Historical Record Collections

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