Argentina Civil Registration
Civil registration is the vital records made by the government. Records of births, marriages, and deaths are commonly referred to as "vital records" because they refer to critical events in a person's life. Civil registration (Registros Civiles) records are an excellent source for accurate information on names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths. In addition, civil registration may include divorce records.
Civil records are essential for research in Argentina. Civil authorities began registering births, marriages, and deaths in 1886. After that date, most individuals who lived in Argentina are recorded. Because they cover so large a part of the population and because they are indexed, easily accessible to the local public, and provide more information than church records, civil registration records are an important source for genealogical research in Argentina.
For birth, death, and marriage records before 1886, see the "Church Records" section of this outline. Online Resources
General Historical Background
The earliest vital records in Argentina were made by the churches. In 1886 the civil government began keeping vital records. Even though the law was passed in 1886 most of the provinces started keeping records at different times. Most had the system going by 1900.
Every municipal district was to make duplicate copies of their books. In Buenos Aires they kept the original books and send the copies to the Archivo General de Tribunales in the Federal District. In the provinces they were to be send the copies to the provincial or judicial archives of each province.
According to the law, the public has liberal access to the civil records. The director of the civil archive is required to provide interested parties with a complete copy of any record, including marginal notes, under his jurisdiction.
Although civil registration records are an important source for genealogical research in Argentina, many births, marriages, and deaths were never recorded by civil authorities and you must use church records to supplement this genealogical source.
Information Recorded in Civil Registers
The information recorded in civil registration records varied over time. The later records generally give more complete information than the earlier ones.
The most important civil records for genealogical research are birth, marriage, and death registers. These records may be either hand or typewritten.
Births were usually registered by the infant’s father or by a neighbor or friend of the family within a few days of the event. A birth record includes the day and time of the birth, the name of the newborn, names of parents, the town where the birth occurred, which may be different than where it was registered, and the address of the house or hospital in which the birth took place. Family information may be included, such as the age of the parents, their birthplaces or residences, marital status, professions, and the number of other children born to the mother. You may also find information about the grandparents.
Corrections or additions to a birth record may have been added as a note in the margin.
Marriages (matrimonios, casamientos)
Early civil marriage entries simply contained the name of the bride and groom and the marriage date. Later more information was entered which may include the ages of the bride and groom, their occupations, civil status, and residence. The names of their parents and even grandparents were given at times along with the birth places for the bride and groom. In current civil marriage records even street addresses are given.
Because the Catholic Church continued keeping records after the creation of the civil registration in 1886, two types of records are available for the marriages. Be sure to search both records.
Divorce Records (Divorcios)
Divorces are not recorded with the civil registration, but rather in the courts. The Family History Library has very few divorce records in its collection. You may obtain information from divorce records by contacting the court of the town or municipality where the divorce took place.
Early civil death records are especially helpful because they list people for whom there are no birth or marriage records, and they may provide information about the person’s birth, spouse, and/or parents. Deaths were recorded within a few days of the event in the town or city where the person died.
Death records generally give the name, date, and place of death. Depending on the clerk who registered the death, the record may also include the age or date of birth of a child, place of residence, occupation, cause of death, burial information, and the informant's name (often a relative). They often provide the name of a spouse or parents.
Be aware that information about parents, birth date, and birthplace of the deceased person and other information in a death record may be inaccurate since the person who gave the information may not have had complete information.
Locating Civil Registration Records
Civil registration records are kept at the local municipal district civil registration office [Dirección del Registro Civil ]. Therefore, you must determine the municipal district where your ancestor lived before you can find the records. The judicial or provincial archives as well as the tribunals in the federal district have some duplicate records that the municipal district have send to them.
Your ancestor may have lived in a village that belonged civilly to a larger nearby town. In large cities, there may be many civil registration districts. You may need to use gazetteers and other geographic references to identify the place your ancestor lived and the civil registration office that served it. See the "Gazetteers" section of this outline. In addition to the town, you need to know at least an approximate year in which the birth, marriage, divorce, or death occurred.
Indexes to Civil Registration Records
Births, marriages, and deaths were written in the civil registration records as they occurred and thus are arranged chronologically. Some provinces and some of the tribunals of the federal district have indexed their records. You will need to ask, to see if the records you want to search are indexed.
Where available, indexes can help you find your ancestor more easily. The Family History Library has not microfilmed the civil registration records of Argentina. The Library's collection continues to grow as new records are microfilmed and added to the collection from numerous sources. Don't give up if records are not available yet. The Family History Library Catalog is updated periodically. Check it again every year for the records you need.
Locating Records Not at the Family History 'Library
Birth, marriage, divorce, and death records may be found by contacting or visiting local civil registration offices or provincial archives in Argentina.
Argentina has no single repository of civil registration records. The present location of records depends on several factors. Records may be available at several locations, including:
Local civil registration municipal offices. Civil registration registers are maintained by the office of the Dirección del Registro Civil in the municipal district. The original book stays in the municipal office and duplicate copies are sent to the provincial or judicial archives of the province or the General Archive of the Tribunal in the federal district. The public has access to the books.
Civil registration records in Argentina are available by writing to the local civil registration office. Civil officials will generally answer correspondence in Spanish. Use the following address:
Dirección del Registro Civil
Oficina de Inscripciones y Rectificaciones
(City), (Province), Argentina
Provincial archives and Tribunal archives. These archives maintain the duplicates sent to them by the municipal districts. You may write to these archives and request searches of the records. The civil registration records for the federal district are preserved on microfiche and there is a general index by sex and type of record (birth, marriages, deaths, recognitions, inscriptions and adoptions). The public has access to these records. For the province of Buenos Aires you will need to write to the following address:
Registro Provincial de las Personas
Calle 1 y 60
La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
After deciding who has jurisdiction over the records for the time period you need, write a brief request to the proper office. See Letter–Writing Guide: Spanish (02362–45000). Send the following:
- Full name and the sex of the person sought.
- Names of the parents, if known.
- Approximate date and place of the event.
- Your relationship to the person.
- Reason for the request (family history, medical, etc.).
- Request for a photocopy of the complete original record.
- Check or cash for the search fee (usually about $10.00).
If your request is unsuccessful, search for duplicate records that may have been filed in other archives, church registers, or provincial archives.