Civil registration

This guide was last updated in 2009

There are no national indexes of births, marriages and deaths. All records are kept in the local civil registration office, the Standesamt, and the indexes are not available for searches.

At present, only proven direct descendants of the person registered are allowed copies of the certificates. You can write or call in for these. However, you do need to know exactly where your German ancestor was born or married to search.

As Germany was not a single state until 1871, civil registration began in different areas at different times. In Bavaria, it started in 1876; in much of Prussia in 1874; and in the areas influenced by France during the French Revolutionary Wars – such as the Rhineland and Baden – in 1792.

If you are not sure when it started in your area, you need to ask. The earlier records are very detailed, but German certificates after 1876 are only as informative as English ones.

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