Civil Registration definition

Civil registration is an administration process used by governments. The office that is responsible for managing the registration system can have different titles, including:

  • Registrar
  • Registry office
  • Population registry
  • Bureau of vital statistics
  • Registry of vital records and statistics

The resulting body of data may also have a different name depending on the country, such as civil registry, or vital records.

What is Civil Registration?

Civil registration is the method used by a governing authority to record the births and deaths of its citizens and residents - known as vital events. This is done through the issuing of documents like birth and death certificates.

Depending on the country, marriages and divorces may also be recorded as part of their civil registration process.

The official term for this type of process is a civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system.

The importance of a CRVS

A well-functioning civil registration and vital statistics system plays an essential role in accurately recording the vital statistics of a nation.

Although most developed countries have adequate CRVS systems, a serious number of births and deaths in developing countries are unregistered each year. Almost half of the world’s children are not registered, and around 2 thirds of deaths.

If a nation does not accurately record the vital statistics of its population, it cannot assess the leading causes of death. Without this data, it’s extremely difficult to tackle serious health issues.

Birth certificates also provide a basis for individual legal identity. Without this type of document, many people face social exclusion.

CRVS System in the United States

The United States has their own civil registration and vital statistics system. The office that records the critical events of US citizens is called either the Office of Vital Statistics or Office of Vital Records, depending on the individual state.

These offices manage the issuing, recording, and managing of all United States vital records and statistics.