Civil registration

System of registration of births, deaths and marriages.

Records of events in an individual’s life are known as vital records.
Events which modify an individual’s vital records (adoption, name change) are recorded in the register of births, along with events which create obligations with respect to others: marriage, divorce, birth, legitimation or recognition of children.

Civil registration guarantees the recognition of individuals by the state. In France, parish registers have existed since the the ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts in 1539 which obliged priests to keep a register of christenings. In 1792, the registers became municipal. The main purpose of civil registration is to guarantee the rights and duties of individuals, which begin at birth and end at death. Registration of events also provides statistical data for counting births and deaths to monitor natural population change. In some countries, the population registers also include individuals’ addresses, making it possible to count migrant flows and determine net migration.