Netherlands Population Registers
|The Netherlands Background|
|Local Research Resources|
The FamilySearch moderator for the Netherlands is Daniel Jones.
Population registers [bevolkingsregisters], abbreviated BR in the Netherlands are an important source of genealogical information. They track the movement of people from one residence to another. Officially, population registers began for each municipality on l January 1850 and were based on the 3rd National Census, taken 19 November 1849. Some places started using these kind of records earlier (for example, the province of Zuid-Holland in 1845, or part of Gelderland in 1811). Population registers should not be confused with the Census, which records the population at a point in time. Rather Population Registers record the population over a period as it changes.
The following details of the inhabitants may be found:
- first and last names and gender
- dates and places of birth
- relation to the main occupant of the address (spouse, child or servant)
- marital status
- occupation (s)
- religion (sometimes missing)
- date of arrival in the municipality and the previous residence
- if the family moves, when and whither
Changes (births, deaths, marriages, departures, arrivals) in a household in the course of the ten years covered by the register were added or the changed information struck out. The striking out can sometimes make it difficult to read the information struck out.
1850-1920: Information from 1850 to about 1920 is kept in a book or register. The records list each member of the household and his or her birth date and place, relationship to the head of the household, marital status, occupation, religion, arrival date and where he or she moved from, removal date and where he or she moved to, and death date. The records also include notes, which contain emigration information. Earlier books are organized by neighborhood, street, and house number. Later books are alphabetical by the surname of the head of the household. Frequently the books are fully indexed.
1920-1939: gezinkaarten Most municipalities started using cards instead of books in 1920. Called family cards [gezinskaarten], these were used until 1939. Each page only contained one household, and the records are arranged by surname rather than street address.
1940-1994: persoonskaarten The size and movement of the population from 1940 was recorded using person cards [persoonskaarten]. These exist from 1940 to 1 October 1994. Some cards exist for 1938 and 1939. Information about each person was entered onto an individual card instead of being listed as part of a family group. The cards were maintained by the municipal administration. When someone moved, the card was forwarded to the new municipality. When the person died, the card was sent to the Central Office for Statistics [Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek], then forwarded onto the Central Office for Genealogy for safekeeping.
The cards contain a person’s name, birth date and place, nationality, occupation, parents’ names, parents’ birth date and place, marriage date and place, spouse’s name, spouse’s birth date and place, spouse’s death date and place, address of each residence and date moved, and death date and place. The cards also give the children’s names, birth dates and places, spouses, and marriage dates. Earlier cards give religion and cause of death.
1994-present persoonslijsten Person lists [persoonslijsten] replaced the person cards on 1 October 1994. As of that date the information is now kept in electronic form. When a person dies, a printout is made and sent to the Central Office for Statistics and then on to the Central Office for Genealogy.
Finding Population Registers Online
- Zoekakten has links to all the BR records contained in the FamilySearch collection Netherlands Census and Population Registers, 1574-1940. The coverage is predominantly for Friesland, Gelderland, Limburg, Utrecht, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland. These images are unindexed.
- WieWasWie has images and indexes for Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Limburg and some from Utrecht. They are incomplete, but continually added to.
- Geneaknowhow has many Population Register records
- Friesland: Some BR records are on AlleFriezen, with indexes. These are not available on WieWasWie.
- Achterhoek, Gelderland: Bevolkingsregister Achterhoek region
Population registration records are kept either in the municipal archives [gemeentearchieven] or in the municipal hall [gemeentesecretarie]. If they are in the archive they are open to the public, usually until 1900 or 1920, depending on the archive. Records in the town hall are, by rule, not open to the public, but population registers are generally available for inspection to about 1900. If the population registers you are seeking are not public, you may obtain an extract for a small fee. Write to the municipal administration as outlined below:
Many of the population registers to about 1920 have been filmed by the Family History Library. Check the Place search of the catalog under:
NETHERLANDS, [PROVINCE], [TOWN] – POPULATION
The records are only public if the person has been deceased for about two years. You must contact the Central Bureau for Genealogy, fill in an application form and pay the fee as explained on their website. Email it to email@example.com post to
- CBG | Center for Family History
- Section Personcart and Personlist
- PO Box 11755
- 2502 AT, The Hague
- The Netherlands
- CBG | Center for Family History
If the record is found, it will also contain details about the main person's parents, spouse and children. Some information may be blanked out in the case of people deceased relatively recently.