Philippines Civil Registration
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The records of birth, marriage and death provides important information of events in a person's life; therefore, it became necessary for legal authorities to record and keep these events in their citizens life, in formal books, for the benefit of civil and personal purposes.
Civil Registration (Registros Civiles)
- The recording births, marriages and deaths, provides important information of events in a person's life and required valid evidence, making these records very important.
- Most vital records from before 1889 come from Catholic parish and diocesan archives.
- In 1889, the Spanish government created the Central Office of Statistics, which required each parish priest to give the government a detailed list of the births, marriages, and deaths in his area.
- After the Philippine Revolution of 1898, the church and state became separate. Within the first few years, officials responsible for civil registration were appointed in each municipality.
- In 1930, civil registration became mandatory and, in 1932, the Bureau of Census and Statistics was created to oversee all civil registration in the Philippines. It was not until 1940 that most registrations began to be recorded.
- Births: Child’s name, birth date and place; parents’ names, residence, and occupation; witnesses’ ages, relationships, residences.
- Marriages: Bride and groom names, ages, residences, occupations, marriage date and place; sometimes ages and/or birth dates and places; parents' names; residences, occupations; witnesses and officer who performed ceremony; former spouses.
- Death registers: Name of deceased, age, death date and place, occupation, name of surviving spouse, informant’s name and residence, cause of death, sometimes birth date and place, parents’ names, children’s names.
- Fetal deaths: Record of all stillbirths, includes information similar to birth and death data shown above.
- Population coverage: Before 1922, 20%; after 1922, 90%.
Example of a Birth Certificate
Example of a Marriage Certificate
Locating the Records
Online Civil Registration Records
- Vital Statistics Special Release - Problems and Solutions if you don't find what you are looking for
- 1888 - 1986 - Philippines Civil Registration (Local), 1888-1986 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1899 - 1984 - Philippines, Manila, Civil Registration, 1899-1984 at FamilySearch — index and images
- 1902 - 1945 - Philippines Civil Registration (Archives Division), 1902-1945 at FamilySearch — images
- Philippines, Civil Registration (Archives Division), 1902-1945 at - ($)
- 1945 - 1984 - Philippines Civil Registration (National), 1945-1984 at FamilySearch — index and images
Microfilm Copies of Civil Registration Records in the FamilySearch Catalog
You can also search microfilmed copies of available civil registration records. If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to try to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. Currently, they are being digitized, and plans are to complete that project by 2020. Check back occasionally to see if your records have become available. In the meantime, some of them might be available at a Family History Center near you.
To find a microfilm:
- a. Click on this link to see a list of Places within the Philippines.
- b. Click on "Places within Philippines" and a list of provinces will open.
- c. Click on "Places within...." for the province.
- d. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
- e. Click on "Civil Registration" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
- f. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor. "Nascimentos" are births. Matrimônios and "Casamentos" are marriages. "Óbitos" are deaths. "Índice" is the index.
- g. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. . The magnifying glass indicates that the microfilm is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm.
Writing for Records
- Civil registry documents that can be obtained from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). Click here for detailed instructions for requesting certificates by mail. Click here to order records online.
- A copy of the records have been retained in local civil registry offices. Because many records were lost or damaged in the war, checking both the national office and local office might help find a surviving record. To write to them, address your letter to:
City Civil Registry
(postal code--find it here) (City)
For other religions, Google the denomination and the location. Many churches maintain websites.
Write, call, or personally visit the parish or church. Ask for permission to study their records or make arrangements for them to search for you. It is usual to pay for their help in the form of a donation to the church. When you write, send the following:
- Full name and the gender of the person sought.
- Names of the parents, if known.
- Approximate date and place of the event.
- Your relationship to the person.
- Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
- Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
- Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).
English is the official language of the Philippines. This Letter Writing Guide will help you with organizing your letter and phrasing your requests.