Porto, Portugal Genealogy

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Guide to Porto, Portugal ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, family history, and military records.

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Beginning Research
Record Types
Portugal Background
Local Research Resources



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Research Methods

Most of your genealogical research for Porto will be in two main record types: civil registration (registros civis) and church records (registros da igreja). This article will teach you methods for locating and searching these two record groups.

Civil Registration (Registros civis)

Civil registration records (Registros civis) are government records covering birth, marriage, and death. They are an excellent source of names, dates, places, and relationships.

Time period:1832-present. Registration of non-Catholics began in 1832. Civil registration was mandated in 1878 but only became obligatory in 1911. Priests functioned as civil registrars until 1911. The records are highly reliable.

Civil registration records are kept on a municipal level by local civil registration offices. After 100 years they are moved to the district registration office.

Writing for Civil Registration Certificates

It is possible to obtain civil registration records by writing to the local civil registry in the municipality. Civil officials will generally answer correspondence in Portuguese. Your request may be forwarded if the records have been sent to district archives.

Events Less Than 100 Years Ago

For events less than 100 years ago, the records are kept in the local registration office. Write a brief request in Portuguese to the proper office using this address as guide replacing the information in parentheses:

Cartório de Registro Civil
(postal code), (city)
Porto, Portugal

District Archives

For records older than 100 years, write to the district office at:

1ª Conservatória do Registo Civil do Porto
Lg. Viriato 7
4050-627 Porto
Porto – Portugal

Telefone: 226052330
Fax: 226052339
E-mail: 1crc.porto@dgrn.mj.pt

For both types of offices, send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00, and an international reply coupon (IRC)
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record


Write your request in Portuguese whenever possible. For writing your letter in Portuguese, use the translated questions and phrases in this Portuguese Letter-writing Guide.

Church Records (registros da igreja)

The vast majority of Portuguese were Catholic and were registered in entries for baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials in the local church records. Often two and sometimes three generations are indicated in the registers, with personal information on the family.

1. Online Digital Records for Church Records

For some localities, digital copies of Catholic church records can be searched online:

Batismos are infant baptisms, which are used for birth information. Matrimônios' are marriages. "Óbitos" are deaths. "Índice" is the index.

2. Tombo.pt

  • In 1910 a revolution rejected the royal family, abolished all titles of the nobility, wrote a constitution, and passed new laws. All documents with vital information that were previously recorded and held by the Catholic Church were turned over to the government. Some of these records are now in the national archive in Lisbon, called the "Torre do Tombo", some are in archives that were established in each district, and some unfortunately were lost in this transfer.
  • To search digitized parish records for Porto at Tombo.pt, click on this link. The parishes are listed in the left sidebar under "Municípios". After clicking on your parish, look for:
Series
Registos de batismo (baptismal registers)
Registos de casamento (marriage registers)
Registos de óbito (burial registers)

You will find a description of and link to each time period that was digitized.

3. Microfilm Copies of Church Records Searched at a Family History Center

If the locality and time period you need are not included in the online records, the next step is to find them in the microfilm collection of the Family History Library. These microfilms may be viewed at Family History Centers around the world. To find a microfilm:

a. Click on this link to see a list of records for Portugal, Porto.
b. Click on "Places within Portugal, Porto" and a list of towns and cities will open.
c. Click on the town or city you wish to search.
d. Click on "Church Records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Choose the correct event and time period for your ancestor.
f. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the microfilm listed for the record. FHL icons.png. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the microfilm. Clicking on the microfilm reel will lead to information on how to rent the film. Family History Center staff will assist you in ordering the film.

4. Writing to a Catholic Priest for Church Records

Baptism, marriage, and death records may be searched by contacting or visiting local parish or diocese archives in Portugal. Portugal has no single repository of church records. Write your request in Portuguese whenever possible. This method is not always reliable. Officials might or might not respond.

Write a brief request in Portuguese to the proper church using this address as guide replacing the information in parentheses:

Reverendo Pároco
Paróquia de (name of parish)
(postal code), (city)
Porto, Portugal


When requesting information, send the following:

  • Money for the search fee, usually $10.00, and an international reply coupon (IRC)
  • Full name and the sex of the ancestor sought
  • Names of the ancestor’s parents, if known
  • Approximate date and place of the event
  • Your relationship to the ancestor
  • Reason for the request (family history, medical, and so on)
  • Request for a photocopy of the complete original record


Write your request in Portuguese whenever possible. For writing your letter in Portuguese, use the translated questions and phrases in this Portuguese Letter-writing Guide.

Reading the Records

  • You do not have to be fluent in Portuguese to read your documents. Genealogical records usually contain a limited vocabulary. Use this Portuguese Genealogical Word List to translate the important points in the document.
  • Online interactive slideshow lessons are available to help you learn to read these records:


Search Strategy

  • Search for the relative or ancestor you selected. When you find his birth record, search for the births of his brothers and sisters.
  • Next, search for the marriage of his parents. The marriage record will have information that will often help you find the birth records of the parents.
  • You can estimate the ages of the parents and determine a birth year to search for their birth records.
  • Search the death registers for all known family members.
  • Repeat this process for both the father and the mother, starting with their birth records, then their siblings' births, then their parents' marriages, and so on.
  • If earlier generations (parents, grandparents, etc.) do not appear in the records, search neighboring parishes.


Tips for finding your ancestor in the records

  • Births were usually reported within a few days of the birth by the father of the child, a neighbor, or the midwife. A search for a birth record should begin with the known date of birth and then searching forward in time, day by day, until the record is found. It might be found within a few days of the actual birth date, but in some instances, it might be weeks or months later.
  • In the larger cities of Portugal, there are several registration offices located throughout the city. If you know in which part of the city your ancestor lived, you should begin your search in the records of the office nearest their home. If you do not know, you will need to search office by office.
  • Some civil registration books have indexes in the front or back of them. These indexes are often by the given name of the child. You may have to check every entry in the index if your ancestor had more than one given name.
  • Marriages typically took place in the hometown of the bride.
  • Death records can be particularly helpful for people who may not have had a civil birth or marriage record but died during the period when civil registration had begun.