Costa Rica Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Costa Rica

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Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1860-1975 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Costa Rica
Flag of Costa Rica (state).svg.png
Flag of the Republic of Costa Rica
CR locator map Costa Rica.png
Location of Costa Rica
Record Description
Record Type: Civil Registration
Collection years: 1860-1975
Language: Spanish
Title in the Language: Registro Civil de Costa Rica
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
National Archives, San José


What is in the Collection?

This collection of civil birth, marriage, and death records includes the years 1860 to 1975.

The collection is organized by province, then by type of records with the inclusive years. Early records are handwritten in Spanish in narrative form; later records are handwritten in formatted records. The records for Varias Provincias includes indexes. The provinces contained in the collection are Alajuela, Cartago, Guanacaste, Heredia, Limón, Puntarenas, San José and Varias Provincias (various provinces). Please note that many of the province locations are incorrect in the index due to a number mapping error (as of this edit, May 2016). See "Known Issues with This Collection" below for a link to the known issues page, which has instructions for determining the correct province.

The church records alone provided vital information of the people until the civil authorities established Civil Registration as an institution at the end of 1887. In January of 1888, the Central Civil Registration was established in the city of San Jose, implementing civil registration for the nation.

In December of 1949, the Supreme Court of Elections agreed to fuse the civil and the electoral registry into one institution under the name of Civil Registration. The compiled registry was organized into two sections: the civil section and the electoral section, which under the same institution provides the civil authorities with the civil lives events and electoral age of the citizens.

The civil registration could be performed at the Central Office of the Civil Registration Section or at any of the regional offices in the municipalities of the nation. Records created in the regional offices were later sent to the Central Office.

These records are written in Spanish. Here is a link to a Spanish Genealogical Word List which may be helpful.

To Browse this Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1860-1975.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Click on images for a larger view.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Birth records may contain the following information:

  • Name of child
  • Date, place and time birth
  • Gender of child
  • Parents' names and occupation
  • Presenter's name and occupation
  • Relationship of presenter to child

Marriage records may contain the following information:

  • Date, place and time of marriage
  • Names of bride and groom
  • Groom's age, occupation, civil status, origin and residence
  • Groom's parents' names and their occupation
  • Bride's age, occupation, civil status, origin and residence
  • Bride's parents' names and their occupation
  • Names of witnesses
  • Parish of baptism

Death records may contain the following information:

  • Name of deceased
  • Age, gender and residence of deceased
  • Date, place and time of death
  • Cause of death
  • Parents’ names, occupation and residence
  • Place of burial

How Do I Search the Collection?

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page: 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.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
⇒Select the "Province"
⇒Select the "Record Type and Years" that takes you to the images.

Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

When searching:
As you are searching it is helpful to know such information as your ancestor's given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence, age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor and that your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.

For Help Reading These Records

What Do I Do Next?

The civil registration records in Costa Rica are an excellent source for genealogical research. Important genealogical data can be found in these records, which may also include data of other family members to fill in another generation group. Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index of birth, marriage, or death. Use the locator information in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination. Be aware that as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

Use the locator information in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination. Be aware that as with any index, transcription errors may occur.

When you have located your ancestor’s birth, marriage, or death record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.

For example:

  • Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
  • The father’s occupation can lead you to employment records, military records, or other types of records.
  • The parents’ birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.

It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. If the surname is unusual, you may want to compile entries for every person of the same surname and sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same town or nearby location.

Keep in mind:

  • The information in civil records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from record to record.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

  • Use the age to find an approximate birth year to begin your search in church or civil records.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have moved, been recruited or lived nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify. Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname; this is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
  • 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 such as a title, an occupation, or land ownership. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Switch to a different record collection. Depending on the time period, one or the other collection may be more helpful.
  • While searching, it is helpful to know such information as the ancestor’s given name and surname, some identifying information such as residence and age, and family relationships. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as an ancestor and that the ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times.
  • Keep in mind that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist during the periods our ancestors lived in. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images. Pay special attention to how the name should have been pronounced and try variations on the pronunciation.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names.

Known Issues with This Collection

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See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.  

Collection Citation:

"Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1860-1975." Database with images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Archivos Nacionales, San José (National Archives, San José).

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1860-1975.


Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Costa Rica, Civil Registration, 1860-1975.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.