Belgium, Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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This article contains information about records in multiple collections. See All Published Record Collections for a list of available records.
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Flag of Belgium
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Map of Belgium
Record Description
Record Type Civil Registration
Language: Dutch, Flemish or French
Title in the Language:
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General Information About Belgium Civil Registration

The events are recorded either in Dutch, French or German totally by hand or in partially pre-printed books where the information is then entered by hand. If a child was not registered when they were born, their name will not appear in the death record, but their gender will be recorded.

In 1795, Belgium was annexed by France. Napoleon Bonaparte instituted the civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Civil registration occurs on a town-by-town basis and is supplemented with decennial indexes to the registers, which generally begin by 1802. Many of the earliest records from this time follow the French Revolutionary calendar, established in France in October 1793 and abolished by Napoleon on January 1, 1806.

Civil registration was instituted to record births, marriages, and deaths because not everyone was baptized, married, or buried in a church. It provided for a more complete registration of vital events for the whole population. 

Civil records are the primary source for research after 1796. They are recorded by either the mayor himself or a government clerk within 3 days of the event. They are generally correct as far as the information goes, as the events were registered by eyewitnesses of the event. Barring spelling errors or faulty memory, civil records are as accurate as possible.

Collection Content and Use

A birth record may provide the following information:

  • Day and hour of birth
  • Name of parents
  • Occupation and age of parents
  • Names of witnesses to the birth
  • Birthplace of the child

A marriage record may provide the following information:

  • Names of the couple
  • Their birthplace and place of residence
  • Birthdates and ages of the couple
  • Names and consent of parents
  • Occupations of the couple to be married
  • Place of residence and occupations of parents

A death record may provide the following information:

  • Day and hour of death
  • Age or birth date of the deceased
  • Birthplace of the deceased
  • Name of the deceased person
  • Marital status of the deceased and former occupation (when applicable)
  • Name of the spouse (when applicable) and may give the date and place of that spouse’s death
  • Indicates if parents are deceased or gives their residence if they are still living. When they are deceased, it may give their burial location
  • Witnesses may be members of the family

Reading the Records

The records may be in recorded in Dutch, Flemish or French. For help with the language see the following articles and tutorial:

Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

FamilySearch Historical Record Collections

How You Can Contribute

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.