Nigeria Civil Registration

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Civil Registration


  • The first attempt at collecting data on births in Nigeria started in 1863 with the promulgation of the Ordinance No. 21 at the Lagos Colony though actual registration of these events started in 1892. The success spurred the government to expand the programme to villages bordering the colony including Warri in 1903 and Calabar in 1904.
  • A more comprehensive legislation on the registration of vital events throughout the country was introduced in 1917.
  • The Births, Deaths and Burial Ordinance of 1948 consolidated the provisions of the 1917 Ordinance even though application was restricted mainly to the townships. Thus, in various parts of the country one form of registration or another of births and deaths had been going on throughout the colonial period and beyond. There was no uniformity of operations nor complete coverage and objectives of registration was narrowed to the colonial needs for tax assessment and security imperatives.
  • The first conscious effort to have a universal system of registration of births and deaths in Nigeria was in 1979. This was when the Federal Government, in search of an alternative source of demographic data, promulgated the ‘Births and Deaths Compulsory Registration’ Decree (Now Act) 39 of 1979’. The decree came into effect on the 1st of September 1979 and provided for the establishment of a uniform system of vital registration nationwide.
  • This was followed by the ‘Births, Deaths, ETC (Compulsory) Registration’ Decree (Now Act) No. 69 of 1992 which came into effect from 1st December 1992. The law gave the sole authority to register these events nationwide to the National Population Commission. REPORT OF LIVEBIRTHS, DEATHS & STILLBIRTHS IN NIGERIA (1994-2007)

Civil registration

Research use: A primary source for vital events.

Record type: Births, marriages, and deaths for British and native Nigerians.

Time period: 1914 to present.

Contents: Birth – name, date of birth, parents, father’s occupation and residence, sometimes age of mother; names of witnesses and their residences, occupations, and sometimes relationships. Marriage – names of bride and groom, residence and date of marriage, sometimes ages and names of parents or sponsors. Death – name, date of death and burial, age, residence at the time of death, occupation, cause of death.

Location: National Archives; regional archives, and the National Archives, London.

Population coverage: Up to 65% of the British,35% of the Nigerians, both before 1930. After 1930, approximate 80% of the British, and 60% of the Nigerians.

Reliability: Excellent.[1]


  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Nigeria,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1993-1999.