Portugal Civil Registration

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Civil Registration

Civil Registers (Registros Civis)

In 1832, the Portuguese government passed legislation requiring the births, marriages, and deaths of all residents to be recorded at the local civil registry. Before this legislation, only churches recorded such information.

Civil registers was first instituted as a way for non-Catholic individuals to register their births, marriages, and deaths, while Catholic priests acted as the civil register for the members of their parish. However, this system didn't come into effect until 1878.[1][2]

With the formation of the First Portuguese Republic in 1910, Civil registration changed drastically. From 1911 onwards, all residents were required to have their vital events recorded in the civil registrar, regardless if this information was also recorded in their church's parish.

Civil birth, marriage, and death records are initially stored at the Civil Registry (‘’Conservatória do Registro Civil’’).

  • After 100 years, birth records are sent to district archives.
  • After 50 years, marriage records are sent to district archives.
  • After 30 years, death records are sent to district archives.[3]

For a list of Civil Registration Offices, visit Civil Registration Offices
For a list of District Archives, visit Archives and Libraries


Types of Records

Birth records (Nascimentos)

usually contain:

  • Given name of the child
  • Gender
  • Legitimacy or otherwise
  • Date of birth
  • Date of christening
  • If this is the first child in that family to be given that name
  • Names of the father and mother
  • Birthplace of each parent
  • Names and birthplaces of the paternal and maternal grandparents
  • Names of godparents
  • Names of witnesses
  • Name of the priest that performed the christening

Marriage records (Casamentos)

usually contain:

  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Marital status of the bride and groom
  • If previously married the name or names of the previous spouses
  • Birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • Ages of the bride and groom
  • Names of the parents of the bride and groom
  • Birthplace of each parent
  • Names of the witnesses
  • Name of the priest performing the wedding ceremony

Death records (Óbitos)

usually contain:

  • Name of deceased
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Date and place of death
  • Date place of burial
  • Names of parents if deceased is a minor

Use the Portuguese Genealogical Word List to find the Portuguese versions of these terms.

Online Civil Registration

The following online records contain the civil registration records for specific districts in Portugal, and are browse only.

  • FamilySearch has browsable images that you navigate by clicking the Municipality and Civil Parish (Freguesia) where the person of interest lived, then select nascimento (birth), casamento (marriage), or obit (death) to browse for the specific record.
  • Tombo.pt links to the digital images on the district archives website. This includes records not available on FamilySearch. Use the sidebar on the left of the screen to select the Municipality and Civil Parish (Freguesia) where the person of interest lived, then select year range for nascimentos (births), casamentos (marriages), or obits (deaths) to browse for the specific record.
  • The District Archives provides two ways to access the records. There are links to access through the collection page and through searching the database.
    • Collection takes you to the archive’s digital collection. Navigate to the civil registration records by clicking the link for Civil Registration (registro civil). Not all municipalities have digitized their civil registration records, but those that have digital records will be listed. Click the link to online records (acesso em linha) to access the digital images. If no records are available, from the collections page click the link for parishes (paroquias) and see if the church records for the town where your ancestor lived can give you the information you need. The districts of Braga, Bragança, Porto, Setúbal, and Viana do Castelo have not yet made their collection inventories digitally navigatable.
    • Database brings you to the search feature for the district archive. Search for a specific municipality by typing “concelho de [the name of the municipality]” and click search. Navigate the results to see if any civil registration records have been digitized. If none appear, check the church records by searching for “paroquia de [name of parish] to see if the church records can give you the information you need.

The church records for the districts of Beja, Bragança, Castelo Branco, Faro, Guarda, Santarem, and Vila Real are stored at the district and the national archives. Both archives will need to be searched to be sure the records are available.
Collections with an asterisk (*) are in the process of being indexed.

District/Region FamilySearch Tombo District Archives
Açores Portugal, Açores, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Aveiro Portugal, Aveiro, Civil Registration, 1911-1915*
For earlier records, see Portugal, Aveiro, Catholic Church Records, 1550-1911
Portugal, Aveiro, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Beja Portugal, Beja, Civil Registration and Miscellaneous Records, 1609-1950*
For earlier records, see Portugal, Aveiro, Catholic Church Records, 1550-1911
Portugal, Beja, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Braga See Portugal, Braga, Catholic Church Records, 1530-1911 Portugal, Braga, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Bragança See Portugal, Bragança, Catholic Church Records, 1541-1985 Portugal, Bragança, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Castelo Branco See Portugal, Castelo Branco, Catholic Church Records, 1714-1911 Portugal, Castelo Branco, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Coimbra Portugal, Coimbra, Civil Registration, 1893-1980*
For earlier records, see Portugal, Coimbra, Catholic Church Records, 1459-1911
Portugal, Coimbra, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Évora See Portugal, Évora, Catholic Church Records, 1533-1912* Portugal, Évora, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Faro See Portugal, Faro, Catholic Church Records, 1587-1880 Portugal, Faro, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Guarda See Portugal, Guarda, Catholic Church Records, 1459-1911 Portugal, Guarda, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Leiria See Portugal, Leiria, Catholic Church Records, 1534-1911 Portugal, Leiria, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Lisboa Portugal, Lisboa, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Madeira Portugal, Madeira, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database - Search by an individual's name
Portalegre See Portugal, Portalegre, Catholic Church Records, 1859-1911* Portugal, Portalegre, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Porto See Portugal, Porto, Catholic Church Records, 1535-1949 Portugal, Porto, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Santarém See Portugal, Santarém, Catholic Church Records, 1544-1911 Portugal, Santarém, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Setúbal Portugal, Setúbal, Civil Registration and Miscellaneous Records, 1649-1936*
For earlier records, see Portugal, Setúbal, Catholic Church Records, 1555-1911
Portugal, Setúbal, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database
Viana do Castelo See Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Catholic Church Records, 1537-1911 Portugal, Viana do Castelo, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Viana do Castelo District Archive
Vila Real See Portugal, Vila Real, Catholic Church Records, 1533-1941 Portugal, Vila Real, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports District Collection, National Collection
District Database, National Database
Viseu See Portugal, Viseu, Catholic Church Records, 1523-1989 Portugal, Viseu, Civil Registration, Catholic Church Records, and Passports Collection
Database

Refer to this website for locating Civil Registration offices in order to determine the municipality where your ancestor would have registered their birth, marriage, or death.
If the record exists but has not been digitized, refer to Portugal Civil Registration in Portuguese Archives.

Civil Registration Records in Portuguese Archives

Many times, Civil Registration records have not been digitized or microfilmed. What that is the case, it is necessary to contact the archives in Portugal to obtain copies of the records.

If the record was created more than 100 years ago, it will most likely be housed at the district archive of the district where the record was created. Visit Archives and Libraries for a list of the district archives of Portugal, with links to the archive's website and online catalog and contact information. If the record can be found on the catalog, this will expedite the archivist's efforts to locate and scan the document.

If the record was created within 100 years, it is likely still at the Civil Registration Office. Use the list of the district offices of civil registrars or Conservatórias list of civil registrars to find contact information for the office. Be aware that, due to privacy laws, you may need to prove your relationship to the individual you are researching in order to access the record.

Use the Portuguese Letter Writing Guide to writing a genealogical request in Portuguese, and be aware that most archives have a fee associated with locating and copying records.

Civil Registration Records at the Family History Library

Some Civil Registers have been microfilmed and at are the Family History Library.
Perform a Place Search in the FamilySearch Catalog to determine if the civil registration records for the municipality you are researching in have been microfilmed.


References

  1. Cheri Mello, “Finding Your Portuguese Roots: Tracing with Portuguese Records,” on PortugueseAncestry.com, http://www.portugueseancestry.com/LWI/genealogy/gendoc/searching3.cfm.
  2. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Portugal,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-1999.
  3. João Ventura, “Parish Books and Civil Registry,” on Tombo.pt, http://tombo.pt/en/node/15269.