Switzerland Civil Registration

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Civil Registration

Definition

Civil registration is the government record of births, marriages, and deaths. These civil registers are kept by the Zivilstandesamt of each political community. Originally the Zivilstandesamt kept two separate sets of books: A-registers [records of births, marriages, and deaths occurring in the community] and B- registers [births, marriages, and deaths of community citizens that occurred outside the community]. In 1928, the B-registers were discontinued and replaced by Familienregister [family registers] kept by the civil registrar.

Time Coverage

Nationwide civil registration began on 1 Jan 1876. Several cantons began keeping records earlier.

  • Pre-1876 civil registration records are also available for the following cantons:
    • Basel-Land: 1827
    • Fribourg: 1849
    • Geneva: 1798
    • Glarus: 1849
    • Neuchâtel: 1825
    • St. Gallen: 1867
    • Schaffhausen: 1849
    • Solothurn: 1836
    • Ticino: 1855
    • Vaud: 1821
    • Valais: 1853


Bürgerbücher or Bürgerrodel (Citizens’ Books) were kept by some communities as early as the 1820s.

Type of Information Given in Civil Registration Records

Birth Registers

  • Name
  • Date and place of birth of child
  • Names, residence and occupation of the parents

Marriage Registers

  • Names, ages, residences, and occupation of bride and groom
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names, residence, occupation of parents
  • Names of witnesses and person who performed the ceremony

Death registers

  • Name of deceased
  • Age
  • Sometimes place of birth
  • Date and place of death
  • Occupation
  • Name of surviving spouse
  • Name and residence of informant
  • Cause of death
  • Sometimes names of parents
  • Sometimes names of children.

Familienregister (Family Register

This volume consists of a separate page for each married couple and their children. Entries may include the couple’s parents’ names and notes about occupation, emigration, or other unusual circumstances.

Bürgerbücher or Bürgerrodel (Citizens’ Books)

These contain about the same information as found in the modern Familienregister.

Accessing the Records

Online Civil Registration Records