Spain, Municipal Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article contains information about records in multiple collections.
See the section FamilySearch Historical Record Collections for a list of published collections and to access the records.

Title in the Language of the Records

Registros Municipales de España





Record Description

The Spanish Municipal Records include 23 collections ranging from 1319 to 1956. It contains civil registration, census, military drafts and other records microfilmed and digitized at municipal archives in Spain.

Civil registration

Separate registers were maintained for births/baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Civil registration was established with the provisional law of Civil Registration in 1870. The Municipal Civil Registries are under the responsibility of the municipal judge.

Civil registration records are usually handwritten, though new records are on a printed form. There are generally two records per page and they follow a chronological order. Before 1870, civil registrations were created with the information from church parish registers.

Census records

Municipal censuses in Spain were created for different purposes, such as for elections, military draft, taxing, municipal administration, and other purposes. These censuses are an administrative register where inhabitants of a municipal area are listed.

The titles of each census differs according to the administrative need of the municipality throughout the centuries, such as the Censo de los pecheros created in the early 1500s, which excluded the nobility; the Averiguaciones de alcabalas created for taxing purposes in the latter part of the 1500s; the well-known Catastro del Marqués de la Ensenada performed between 1749 and 1753; the Censo de Aranda carried out by the Catholic Church parishes; the Censo de Floridablanca created in the latter part of the 1700s to record all the inhabitants; and the Censo de población started in 1857 for statistical purposes. The National Institute of Statistics (Instituto Nacional de Estadística) has been the organization in charge of the census since 1945. However, the municipal census (padrón municipal) differs from the population census (Censo de población) in that it is an administrative tool used by the municipality to establish proof of address and residence within the municipality boundaries.

At the time of any census, all people living in Spain were to be registered in the census that took place in their municipal area of residence. If a person failed to be registered in the census or submitted false information, the person was subject to legal sanctions. However, some errors, omissions, or duplications can be found in these records. Overall, the information listed in the records is quite reliable for genealogical research.

Military Records

Military service was required for all males turning 21 years of age every year. In order to recruit males, a draft called "Quinta" was issued yearly by the municipal office of each area. The proceedings for each male drafted was created in an individual file containing a vast documentation. (See the description of the records section)

Municipal military draft records were carried out almost every year to fill in the conscript quota since the voluntary service had declined. The process for the draft was long; it included first the preparation of a list of all men in age for the draft, then approval, sorting of men, notifications, exemptions, medical exam, etc.

The military records are reliable records for genealogical research when other vital records cannot be found. However, these documents are not listed in any specific order and are therefore more difficult to research by names or dates.


Some municipalities kept records of hidalgos called hidalguías. Hidalguía refers to nobility status of hidalgo or hijodalgo or someone of untitled nobility. The literal translation means “son of something.” Being hidalgo gave a male citizen certain rights and privileges of which the most important was immunity from the payment of taxes. It also required military service. Prior to 1831 only hidalgos could serve as military officers. There are two common types of records found in hidalguías; censuses of hidalgos and genealogical information reports (informaciones genealógicas) or purity of blood reports (limpiezas de sangre). Joining a military or fraternal order or holding local public office required proof of hidalguía which is why these records were kept on file in the local municipality. Often the genealogical information traces the direct line genealogy for several generations. Being a hidalgo was not always synonymous with wealth. In some areas they were ordinary laborers. For this reason even if you don’t believe your family was wealthy it would still be important to check these records.

Record Content

The key genealogical facts found in most birth records are:

Spain Malaga City Civil Registration (09-0082) Birth DGS 4458418 208.jpg
  • Place of registration
  • Name of child
  • Date of birth
  • Time of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Legitimacy
  • Parents’ names and place of origin
  • Paternal grandparents’ names and place of origin
  • Maternal grandparents’ names and place of origin
  • Place, date and parish of baptism

The the key genealogical facts found in most marriage records are:

Spain Jerez de la Frontera City Civil Registration (09-0090) Marriage DGS 4458406 898.jpg
  • Place and date of registration
  • Name of groom
  • Groom’s place of origin
  • Groom’s age
  • Groom’s marital status
  • Groom’s occupation
  • Name of bride
  • Bride’s place of origin
  • Bride’s age
  • Bride’s marital status
  • Place of their residence
  • Parish name and date of their religious wedding
  • Groom’s parents' names, their place of origin, and occupation of father
  • Bride’s parents' names, their place of origin, and occupation of father

The key genealogical facts found in most death records are:

Spain Granada Civil Registration (09-0313) Death DGS 4460270 9.jpg
  • Place and date of death
  • Name of deceased person
  • Deceased place of origin
  • Deceased age at time of death
  • Deceased marital status
  • Deceased occupation
  • Cause of death
  • If deceased left a will
  • Deceased place of residence
  • Place of burial
  • Parents’ names and their place of origin
  • Father’s occupation

The key genealogical facts found on most municipal census records include:

Spain Municipal Census 1897 DGS 4171940 9.jpg
  • Complete name
  • Sex
  • Place and date of birth
  • Nationality
  • Address
  • Sometimes the education level
  • Sometimes the names of the spouse and children

The key genealogical facts found on most municipal military draft records include:

Spain Municipal Records Military Draft DGS 4541420 528.jpg
  • Complete name
  • Birth date or age
  • Place of origin
  • Occupation
  • Parents
  • Civil status
  • Medical and physical condition
  • Literacy
  • Religion
  • Body measurements for the uniforms
  • Other notifications, rectifications, licenses, correspondence, etc.

How to Use the Record

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name
  • Province of residence
Search the Collection

To search the collection using the browse you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select each category until you are taken to the images you want.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

To search the collection using the index:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about other people listed in the record. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors, such as:

  • Use the parents' names to locate any children.
  • Search for the parents' marriage. If their age is not given, estimate it and search for their baptismal record.
  • Continue to repeat this process for each ancestor.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
  • Check for variant spellings of the names.
  • Check for an index. Some records have indexes at the end of the volume.
  • If earlier generations are not in the record, search neighboring parishes.
  • If the event you are looking for is after 1859, try searching the civil registration.

The civil registration of birth, marriage, and death are great records to research for genealogical data. These records contain important information to continue research for one or more generations. In order to find an entry in these records one need to know the name of ancestor, place, and year of a vital event in the life of the ancestor being searched.

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