Civil registration

This page was last updated in 2009

Spain’s government enacted a law directing national civil registration in 1870, however, record-keeping did not begin until 1 January 1872.

All events were registered on paper at the municipal level and still are today. There is no national or provincial registry of civil records in Spain. Although births, marriages and deaths are now recorded by computer, no efforts are being made to catalogue, index or duplicate the earlier records. So to obtain a copy of an entry for any of the above events, you need to have someone’s full name and as specific a date as possible.

Spanish civil birth records are a valuable aid to research, as they give the full names and birthplaces of the parents and all four grandparents. Obtaining copies can be a frustrating process, as the staff responsible for keeping them also have to issue new records and process passports, so they have little time to search for someone’s family history records. Make sure you request a Copia Literal, which will be a photocopy of the original document, possibly signed by your ancestor, otherwise you will receive a typed extract that could omit an important clue.

Civil records from the registries of provincial capitals and assorted other cities can be requested online using a form available through the Trámites Personales section of the ministry of justice’s website.

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