Civil registration

For the nineteenth and twentieth century, the civil registration is the primary genealogical resource. All the births, marriages and deaths (BMD) were recorded. Usually, only using the civil registration you can compile a ‘backbone’ of a pedigree that goes back to the late 1700’s.


The civil registration was introduced in the Netherlands during the French occupation. In 1794, the French emperor Napoleon invaded the Netherlands from the south.

As early as 1795, the civil registration was introduced in some southern parts of the Netherlands such as Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. The rest of the Netherlands followed in 1811. Early records are maintained in French.

The primary reason for the civil registration was to know which boys to draft for the military conscription. The major events in a person’s life (birth, marriage and death) were registered. The civil registration records can be found at both the provincial archives and the local archives.

Before the civil registration could start, everyone had to have a fixed family name. Most people in the Netherlands already had a surname but in some regions people still called themselves after their father (patronymics) or farm (farm names). See the Geography section for more information about surnames in each of the provinces.

When the civil registration was introduced, “Registers van naamsaanneming” (registers of taking a name) were kept to record what name everyone took. Some municipalities only registered names of people that didn’t previously have a surname, like Jews. Other municipalities registered the name of every inhabitant, including people who had used a surname for generations.

From then on, the births, marriages and deaths of all Dutch citizens were recorded in the civil registration. The church records, which had effectively served as a population registration up until that point, were taken to the state archives. That way, they were available as evidence of births/baptisms, marriages and deaths/burrials.

10 year indices

Starting in 1813, indices were created to disclose the information in the civil registration. Each index covers a period of 10 years. Hence the name, “tienjarentafel” or 10 year index.

For small towns, these indices are often only alphebetized by the first letter of the last name. Within that letter, the documents are arranged chronologically.

The index lists the people by name. For marriage certificates, be sure to check the bride’s name as well as the groom’s if you cannot find what you are looking for. A reading error is easy to make. When you find the name, it will either list the date of the record, or the year and the record number.

For birth and death records, the birth or death has to be recorded within 5 working days. This means the record date can be up to 7 days later than the actual date of birth or death. Never use the date from the index (which is the record date) but always check the original document to find out the correct date.

Dutch Genealogy source score

5 out of 5 stars Amount of information about births, marriages, deaths
4 out of 5 stars Amount of background information about your ancestors
4 out of 5 stars Online availability of scans
4 out of 5 stars Online availability of indexes or transcriptions
2 out of 5 stars Easy to understand if you don’t know Dutch

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Tara Walsh says


    I need to get a death certificate from Holland, but I cant seem to be able to order it from the UK.

    Can you help?

  2. rebecca carter says

    Good Morning,
    Ive been had some success tracing my dutch roots until now – I cannot find any records of my Great Grandfathers siblings or their spouses and am now at a loss as to where to search?
    My grandmother – his daughter is only able to supply me with limited information due ti failing memory.
    Its also very difficult from the UK.
    Is there something more i could be doing? or somewhere else i could be searching?

  3. I am attempting to become a Dutch citizen with dual citzenship to honor my father.

    I was born in Los Angeles, but my father was born in Hattem, Gelderland. My maternal grandparents were born in Kubaard, Friesland. I need to provide birth certificates.

    How can I go about obtaining birth certificates from both locations? Any help anyone can offer would be appreciated. Please respond to [redacted for privacy reasons]. Thank you.

  4. it says the birth certificate will have the time recorded….is that true? how accurate are the times if the person was born in a hospital?

    • The times are usually rounded off to the nearest hour, sometimes half hour. The informant had to be the father or a person who was present at the birth so it’s primary information and usually reliable.

  5. Dirk Rinckes says

    II was under the impression that in addition to the military conscription, the registration was also introduced for taxation purposes.

    Is this correct or were there in the Netherlands prior to the French invasion, already adequate provisions for taxation of the population present?

    • A lot of changes happened under the French rule. Before the French invasion, each domain had their own system for taxation that also worked well. The French unified that for the whole country, and that has remained the case after the French left.

  6. Hi I’m trying to check in the my civil registration address has been changed.

    How do I do this?

    Thank you in advance.


  7. I’m trying to find the contact information of the executor of the estate of a family friend who passed away in Utrecht around 2013. Is this information in the public records and how would I access such information.

    • That information becomes public after 75 years. You could contact a public notary in Utrecht for advice, but my guess is that you won’t get that information unless you are named as an heir.

  8. I.n.i hoythink says

    My father was from netherlands but mother is a sri i live in sri lanka for more than 20 years but now my father is dead .i want to come to my country netherlond.i have my dutch passport and my birth sertificate.i am very poor .please help me. i need it.i have my son and daughter and my husband.please help me

  9. Franc Houben says

    Can you please inform me what the term “kraamkind” means.
    I found this record on the DTB Rotterdam (ref -9999_23 Begraven 1790-1799) :-
    Overlede: Leonardus Gangolphus N.n.
    Kraamkind van: Leonardus Gangolphus Houben
    Plaats: Rotterdam
    Datum begraven 16-05-1799
    Opmerking: overleden 15-05-1799; S. Dijk bij Brantsteeg.
    Why would there be no surname give to the little child?

    • “Kraamkind” means “newborn child.” So this was the burial of the newborn child of Leonardus Gangolphus Houben. It was common to refer to such children as “kraamkind van” their father rather than by their own name, if they even had one.

  10. Johannes Petrus Donker says

    hi, can you help me,
    I want to get my mother and fathers birth certificate, where about do I apply for them, they were born HILVERSUM and AMSTERDAM.

  11. wouterina Klein says

    Looking for Jannie Van Dort Nee Klein date of death

  12. Becky iuliano says

    Trying to find hospital my husband in Harlem Netherlands in 1959 Gary iuliano father name was Salvatore iuliano


  1. […] In 1811 people were forced to pick a surname in the Netherlands as part of civil registration for military drafts. […]

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