How to obtain certified copies of birth, marriage or death records from the Netherlands

Information desk at the Amsterdam Civil Registration

I often receive requests by people who need to obtain official certificates of Dutch birth, marriage or death records for legal purposes. Obtaining certified copies is not a service I provide, so I will give you the instructions on how to do this yourself. Reasons for needing a certified copy There may be several reasons why you need an … [Read more...]

Quick tip – Check marriage records of siblings

Young couple, the woman holds a bouquet of arums in her hand

When looking for more information about your ancestor, be sure to check the records of the siblings. Marriage records of the siblings can be very informative. There are two situations when checking marriage records of siblings is especially helpful: If your ancestor married just before the introduction of the civil registration and their … [Read more...]

What spouses promised each other

Marriage of Henk Hoitink and Mien Woordes, 1942

If you have ever read all of the text of an early civil registration marriage record, you may have read how the groom and the bride promised to fulfill the duties of a husband and wife towards each other as specified in Title 5, Chapter 6 of the Civil Code. So what does that actually mean? Here is what the law of 1823 says about that. Of the … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Echtscheiding

The neglected wife encourages her husband to sort himself out

Echtscheiding (or scheiding) is the Dutch name for divorce. Up until the last part of the 20th century, divorce was pretty rare in the Netherlands. There are several ways to find out if a couple got divorced. The most common one is to look in the margins of the marriage record, where the divorce will be noted. The divorce will also be recorded … [Read more...]

Quick tip – A couple usually married in the bride’s home town

Henk and Mien on the steps of Winterswijk town hall

Most couples got married in the bride's home town even though they often went to live in the groom's town. So if you can't find a marriage record in the town where the couple lived, try to find out where the wife came from and look for the marriage there. Banns were usually published in both places so you can also try the 'ondertrouw' records. … [Read more...]

Dutch term – Trouwen met de handschoen

Sitting bride

Trouwen met de handschoen literally means "marrying with the glove" and means a proxy marriage. People marry "with the glove" if they can't be in the same location during the marriage ceremony. The bride or the groom is represented by someone with a power of attorney and the marriage will take place as usual, probably with the exception of the … [Read more...]

Quick tip: check Dutch Reformed records for Catholics


After the Eighty Year War (1568-1648), only marriages performed in the Dutch Reformed Church or before the Eldermen's court were considered legal. This means that even marriages between two Catholic people can often be found in Dutch Reformed church records. This does not mean they converted or pretended to be Dutch Reformed, they just went there … [Read more...]

Dutch term: weduwnaar

Etch of an older man holding a woman's had

The word weduwnaar means widower. In most marriage records, even the early ones, the fact that groom is a widower will be mentioned. If you're lucky, the name of the previous spouse is mentioned too, but that has only been required since the civil registration (1811 or slightly earlier). … [Read more...]

Quick tip: Always check all versions of a marriage record

Town Hall, Geertruidenberg

In the days before the introduction of the civil registration in 1811 (or slightly earlier in Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen), the only legally recognized marriages were those performed before the court or by the Dutch Reformed church. Roman-Catholic couples usually married in the Roman-Catholic church as well. Be sure to always check both types of … [Read more...]

Ask Yvette: how to find my grandparents’ birth records

Birth record of Antonie de Wijze, Middelburg 2 March 1886

In response to an article about different types of archives, Larry Joosse wrote: Looking for birth records for Anthonie de Wijze born March 2, 1886 in Zand, and Catharina Johanna vanKeulen born on July 16, 1888. they are my mother’s parents. I thought I would respond in the form of a blog post and show you all the different steps that I take to … [Read more...]