Belgium, General Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page

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FamilySearch Record Search This article contains countrywide information about various collections. See the FamilySearch Historical Records Collections to learn more about each individual locality, and to access the records.

Contents

General Information About Belgium Civil Registration

The events are recorded either in Dutch, French or German totally by hand or in partially pre-printed books where the information is then entered by hand. The name of a child not registered when born will not be given in the death record, but the gender of that child will be. The record also states if the child was stillborn, although sometimes this term was applied to children who died shortly after birth.

In 1795, Belgium was annexed by France. Napoleon Bonaparte instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Civil registration occurs on a town-by-town basis and is supplemented with decennial indexes to the registers, which generally begin by 1802. Many of the earliest records from this time follow the French Revolutionary calendar, established in France in October 1793 and abolished by Napoleon on January 1, 1806.

Civil registration was instituted to record births, marriages, and deaths because not everyone was baptized, married, or buried in a church. It provided for a more complete registration of vital events for the whole population. 

Civil records are the primary source for research after 1796. They are recorded by either the mayor himself or a government clerk within 3 days of the event. They are generally correct as far as the information goes, as the events were registered by eyewitnesses of the event. Barring spelling errors or faulty memory, civil records are as accurate as possible.


Record Content

A birth record may provide the following information:

  • Day and hour of birth
  • Name of parents
  • Occupation and age of parents
  • Names of witnesses to the birth
  • Birthplace of the child

A marriage record may provide the following information:

  • Names of the couple
  • Their birthplace and place of residence
  • Birthdates and ages of the couple
  • Names and consent of parents
  • Occupations of the couple to be married
  • Place of residence and occupations of parents

A death record may provide the following information:

  • Day and hour of death
  • Age or birth date of the deceased
  • Birthplace of the deceased
  • Name of the deceased person
  • Marital status of the deceased and former occupation (when applicable)
  • Name of the spouse (when applicable) and may give the date and place of that spouse’s death
  • Indicates if parents are deceased or gives their residence if they are still living. When they are deceased, it may give their burial location
  • Witnesses may be members of the family

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know the name and some other identifying information such as the event date or the name of the spouse or the parents.

Search the Collection

To search the collection image by image select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page. Then make the appropriate selection from the choices given. Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them.

To search the collection by name fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals 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 look at the information in several images or about several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details about your ancestor. The records usually contain even more information than those found in church records.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names.
  • Look for nicknames.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.

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