Civil registry

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In many countries, vital events (eg. births, deaths, and marriages) are required by law to be formally recorded in registers maintained by government officials.

United KingdomEdit

In the United Kingdom, mandatory civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths was first introduced in 1837 for England and Wales. Subsequent legislation introduced similar systems in Ireland (all of which was then part of the United Kingdom), and Scotland.

The administration of individual registration districts is the responsibility of registrars in the relevant local authority. There is also a national body for each jurisdiction. The local offices are generally responsible both for maintaining the original registers and for providing copies to the national body for central retention. A superintendent registrar facilitates the legal preliminaries to marriage, conducts civil marriage ceremonies and retains in his/her custody all completed birth, death and marriage registers for the district. The office of the superintendent registrar is the district Register office, often referred to (wrongly) in the media as the "Registry office".

Today, both officers may also conduct statutory civil partnership preliminaries and ceremonies, citizenship ceremonies and other non statutory ceremonies such as naming or renewal of vows. Certified copies of the entries made by the registrars over the years are issued on a daily basis either for genealogical research or for modern legal purposes such as supporting passport applications or ensuring eligibility for the appropriate junior sports leagues.

England and WalesEdit

Births in England and Wales must be registered within 42 days, whilst deaths must be registered within 5 days unless an inquest is called or a post mortem is held.

Marriages are registered at the time of the ceremony by either the officiating minister or an authorised person or registrar.

The official registers are not directly accessible by the general public. Instead, indexes are made available which can be used to find the relevant register entry and then request a certified copy of the details.

The General Register Office—now merged into the Office for National Statistics— has overall responsibility for registration administration.


Civil registration came into force in Scotland on January 1, 1855. A significant difference from the English system is the greater detail required for a registration. This means that if a certified copy of an entry is requested, it will contain much more information.

The General Register Office for Scotland has overall responsibility for registration administration and drafting legislative changes in this area (as well as census data). They are governed by the Registration of Births and subsequent legislation (responsibility for which has now been devolved to the Scottish Parliament).

United StatesEdit

In the United States, vital records such as birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates are maintained by the Office of Vital Statistics or Office of Vital Records in each individual state. Other documents such as deeds, mortgage documents, name change documents, and divorce records are maintained by the Clerk of Court of each individual county.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

United StatesEdit

United KingdomEdit

Republic of IrelandEdit

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Civil registry. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.

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