Netherlands Civil Registration

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Burgelijke Stand / Civil Registration

General Historical Background

From about 1550 onward, Church records began to be kept in the Netherlands. These record baptisms(or circumcisions), marriages and burials. Between 1795 and 1811 the Netherlands became increasingly influenced by France. Church records from that time, especially marriages and burials, became more detailed. In 1810 the Netherlands was incorporated into the Napoleonic empire.

On 6 January 1811 the French Imperial (Napoleon) decree served notice that by 1 March 1811 all births, marriages and deaths had to be recorded by the civil authorities of each municipality. The civil officers were made responsible for keeping vital records. Civil registration was accomplished by requiring the people to report all births, marriages, and deaths to a civil registration office [Burgerlijke Stand], located in the municipality [gemeente]. After Napoleon's defeat, the Dutch government continued the civil registration system.

In Limburg and parts of Zeeland, civil registration began as early as 1795, because they had already been conquered by France. They cover the entire population and have one year and 10 year indexes. Civil registration records are the most important source for genealogical research in the Netherlands and are easily accessible.

Geboorten / Births

The following information will usually be found in a birth entry:

  • The name of the child.
  • The birth date of the child.
  • The birth place of the child.
  • The names of the child's parents.
  • The residence of the parents
  • The ages and occupation of the parents.
  • The names, ages, occupations, and residences of the witnesses.
  • The relationships of the witnesses to the child, if any.
  • It will never say if the child is legitimate or illegitimate.

If a child was born out of wedlock it will not usually mention a father, even if he is known. If the child's parents do later marry and the father acknowledge the child as his, it will mention this in the margin.At that time the last name of the child will also change from the mother's last name to the father's last name. However this does not mean that he is the biological father! If the child is illegitimate, but the father is named, there is no reason to suspect false paternity. Church Records may be of use in these situations, but are difficult to access.

Huwelijken / Marriages

The following information will usually be found in a marriage entry:

  • The names of the bride and the groom
  • The ages, residence, birthplace and occupations of the bride and groom.
  • The date of your ancestors' marriage.
  • The names of the parents and their residence and occupation, if living.
  • Whether the bride and groom were single or widowed before the marriage.
  • The names of the witnesses, their ages, occupations, residence, and relationship to the bride or groom, if any.

The following records will usually be found in a Huwelijksbijlagen (Marriage supplement)

  • Copies of birth or baptism records of bride and groom
  • Military conscription record of groom, containing name, birthdate, and parents, and sometimes a physical description
  • Copies of death or burial records of deceased former
  • Copies of death or burial records of parents, if the marrying person is under 30 (and sometimes if they are over 30)
  • In earlier years (pre 1850), if both parents are dead, and they are under 30, death or burials records of grandparents.

The following records related to marriage also exist

  • Marriage Intentions [Huwelijksaangiften] were made a few days before the first marriage proclamation. The couple were required to announce their intention to marry in the residence of both bride and groom. This allowed other community members the opportunity to raise any objections to the marriage. The intentions give the couple’s names, ages, marital statuses before the marriage, occupations, and residences. From 1811 to 1879 the records were combined with the marriage proclamations in one register. After 1879 they were placed in separate registers. They were not prepared in duplicate and are not indexed. Marriage intentions were discontinued in 1935.
  • Marriage Proclamations [Huwelijksafkondigingen], also called marriage banns, were published for two weeks in a row. They provide the couple’s names, ages, marital statuses before the marriage, occupations, and residences. They also give the names of the parents and their occupations, residences, and marital statuses. Like the marriage intentions, the proclamations were not prepared in duplicate and are not indexed. They were kept in the same register as the intentions until 1879 and were discontinued in 1935.
  • Marriage Consents [Huwelijkstoestemmingen]. Parents were normally present at the wedding and stated that they gave their consent for the couple to marry. If parents were absent, their written permission would be included with the marriage supplements. Beginning in 1913, separate registers were used to record the parents’ permission for the bride and groom to marry.

Echtscheidingen / Divorces

Divorce cases are handled by the district courts. A record of the divorce will be recorded at the back of the marriage register of the municipality where the couple lived at the time of their divorce. For large cities in later years they will be in separate registers. There is usually a note in the margin of the original marriage record. Divorces before the 20th century were uncommon.

Overlijden / Deaths

Death records are especially helpful because they may provide important information on a person’s birth, spouse, and parents. Civil death records often exist for individuals whom there are no birth or marriage records for. Deaths were usually registered within three days of the death in the municipality where the person died. If the deceased person was not a resident of that town, often a copy would be sent to that person's residence.

The following information will usually be found in a death record

  • The name of the deceased.
  • The date of death.
  • The names of the deceased's parents.
  • The name of the deceased's spouse.
  • The age of the deceased at the time of death.
  • The place of the deceased's birth.
  • The occupation of the deceased.
  • The names of the witnesses, their ages, occupations, residence, and relationship if any.

Remember, married women are always recorded under their maiden surname. The informant’s name (often a relative) is also given.

Information about parents, the birth date and birthplace of the deceased, and other information in a death record may be inaccurate since the person who gave the information may not have had complete information.

Children who died before the declaration of birth was made are recorded as stillborn and are found only in the death records. This also means that when a child is recorded as stillborn it may not necessarily be true, as a birth had to be recorded within 3 days of birth. In other words, if the child died within those three days, it would most likely not be recorded in the birth records. When looking for a stillborn child you may have to look in the index under 'L' for 'Levenloos' (stillborn),

Those people who were born without a fixed surname are probably recorded under a patronymic or were "given" a surname posthumously, often based on the farm they were born at or lived at.


Overlijden/ Deaths after 1940

The Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie or cbg has records of everyone who has died since 1940.

Finding Netherlands Civil Registration Records Online

Access to Netherlands Civil Registration records online is excellent. There is usually no longer any need to use microfilms from the Family History Library, or to visit archives. Nearly all records have survived, since two copies were made of each record and stored separately

Law allows Birth records up to 1915, marriage records up to 1940 and death records up to 1965 to be released to the public as of 2016. Archives can be up to 10 years behind putting them online.

First search these sites to find a record:

  • WieWasWie has almost all marriages online, many deaths and some births. Some will have a link to the original image attached. For free you can search for 1 or 2 people with an exact spelling. With a subscription you can search with wildcards. WatZitErIn has a list of what is available on WieWasWie, however the dates it gives are often inaccurate.
  • The websites of local and provincial archives are all free, and may have slightly more records or better links to images than WieWasWie.
  • FamilySearch is beginning to put indexed records online. Most significant is their Delft Births collections, which cannot be found on WieWasWie. Amsterdam Births are currently in progress.
  • Geneaknowhow has transcriptions and family reconstructions by individuals and local historical societies.
  • The authorities drew up one and ten year indexes (tienjarigetafels) by municipality. The births, marriages and deaths are generally separate. These are both available on Zoekakten. The one year indexes are located at the end of each year's records. Ten year tables are located separately under Tafels. The names will be alphabetically, though sometimes only the first letter is alphabetized. It will have the date of the record, though not the act number. Only the name of the main people(child, bride and grooms, deceased) will be included.
  • Zoekakten also has some provincial indexes that cover an entire region or province for a large time period, and are arranged alphabetically.

Then find the original image if you have not already:

  • Zoekakten makes browsing images put online by FamilySearch much easier. It has nearly universal coverage of what has survived. The images are black and white, and some are poor quality.
  • The websites of local and provincial archives should also contain images.

Online Records

Additional steps for marriages

Always view the Marriage supplements after you have found a marriage. The example below shows a typical scenario:

It is desired to find the marriage supplements of Cornelis Josephus Johannes Alewisius Baar and Maria Rijnders who married in Arnhem on 8 June 1881, act number 141.

1. Go to Zoekakten, then GL, then Arnhem, then Huwelijksbijlagen, then the film for 1881 and part of 1882. Zoekakten has indexed this film. For 1881 the supplements take images 9-1730. This marriage is in June, so estimate just before halfway and try 800.

2. Number cards on the corner exist here. Go thumbnail view and they can still be read. It can now be seen that an overestimate has been made, for image 771 is act number 145. Try image 750.

3. Thumbnail view from image 750 shows that act number 141 covers images 733-738.

In this example the supplements contain the follwing

  • Birth certificate of the groom
  • Military Conscription record of the groom
  • Birth certificate of the bride
  • Death certificate of the bride's mother
  • A copy of their Marriage Proclamation


Wiki articles describing online collections are found at

References