Portugal Civil Registration
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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.
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.
Types of Records
Birth records (Nascimentos)
- Given name of the child
- 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)
- 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)
- Name of deceased
- 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.
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.
- Cheri Mello, “Finding Your Portuguese Roots: Tracing with Portuguese Records,” on PortugueseAncestry.com, http://www.portugueseancestry.com/LWI/genealogy/gendoc/searching3.cfm.
- 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.
- João Ventura, “Parish Books and Civil Registry,” on Tombo.pt, http://tombo.pt/en/node/15269.