Italian Civil Registration

Italian Civil Registration

Civil Registration records (registri dello stato civile) are those created by the government. This process began on a national level in 1866 when the country of Italy was officially created. At that time, a formal nation wide system of tracking births, marriages and deaths, regardless of ecclesiastical affiliation was implemented. These records are maintained by the individual town (or comune) archives and usually include more information than the church records about these events.


Italian civil registration chronology

Before 1866 (1805-1814)

Before 1866, civil registration was also carried out, though it was more on a provincial level rather than national since the various states and regions had not yet been formed to create a unified Italy. The French Revolution achieved in 1789 the separation of the Church and the State, and in 1792 the Civil Records were ruled, reaffirmed by the Napoleon Code, source of inspiration of all European legislations.
The Civil Register was implemented in Italy by Napoleon I, when he was crowned as the King of Italy (1805).

After 1815

At the time Napoleon was expulsed, Northern States in Italy gave those records back to the parishes again. Yet, not all is that simple. The French left behind them their influence and several Italian regions, at the moment they returned the records to the parishes, demanded for some corrections. For instance, parishes must make annual reports, as indexes, and to report them, once a year, to the civil authorities.

In southern Italy

This period is sometimes also called “Stato Civile Borbonico” because the Bourbon king Ferdinando I of the Kingdom of Naples dictated changes to Napoleon’s civil records and how they should be kept. Although Napoleonic-style civil registration had been introduced to Southern Italy and the Kingdom of Naples in 1809, the Bourbons reintroduced it in 1816. This style of record keeping was not adopted in Sicily until 1820.

After 1866

In 1866, Italian civil records began to be kept more uniformly throughout Italy. In this year, the Stato Civile Italiano (or the records of the Italian government) officially began. The records of Italy before 1866 were generally in handwritten form because printed forms were not always provided. Around 1875, printed forms were prevalent, and many of the names of jurisdictions in Italy began to change. The province of Rome did not begin keeping records until 1871.


In the civil registrations, you can usually expect to find the following:

  • Births (Nati/Nascite): Birth registrations will generally include the name of the child; the hour, date and place of birth of the child; the names (including maiden names), professions, ages and residences of both parents of the child; and the name, age, profession and residence of at least two witnesses and the presenter of the child (if not the father).
  • Marriage (Matrimoni): Marriage registrations provide the date of marriage; the name, age, birth place, residence, and profession of each the bride and groom; give the names of the parents, their ages, professions and residences; and provide the same information about four witnesses, two for the bride and two for the groom.
  • Death (Morti/Morte): Death registrations provide the date of death; the name, age, profession and former residence of the deceased; occasionally list the marital status, name of spouse, and/or names of parents. An important note for deaths is to remember that women in Italy retained their maiden names, even after marriage. They will not be listed under their spouse’s surname.

More than 23 million images and four million searchable names from Italian genealogical records that were previously available only in archives or on microfilm are now available on the Portale Antenati or FamilySearch.Through the efforts of thousands of volunteers participating in the Italy Civil Registration Project, individuals now have access to birth, marriage, and death records for Italian ancestors in a searchable database.

How do I get an Italian birth certificate?

-We should address to the Ufficio dello Stato Civile of the Italian commune. The address can be completed by giving the name of the town or parish, the province and then Italy. an Italian gazetteer, such as the Nuovo Dizionario dei Comuni e Frazioni di Comune gives the province in which each town (commune) and hamlet (frazione) is found.
The websites Comuni Italiani and Tuttitalia provide information on Italian communes: address, email, PEC, etc.
– Not to request information about people still alive (people who were born less than 110 years ago, for example), with exception of those cases in which we know the date of decease.
To attach to the order a photocopy of some picture ID; usually communes don’t give any information if the person who applies for the document is not properly identified.

Model of Letter

Model of Letter

Comune di… (commune name)…
Ufficio dello Stato Civile Li (date)
Egregi Signori,
Vi sarei grato se potreste cercare i seguenti atti e dopo spedirmi gli estratti coi nami dei genitori:
Capofamiglia: ....(ancestor’s name).
Data di nascita: …(date of birth, if you do not know the date write: “intorno a” and an approximate date)…
Figlio di:…(son of)…
Sposa :
Qui incluso vi ‚ un vaglia per la somma di $5.00, Se non fosse sufficiente, vi prego di informarmi circa l’ulteriore somma da spediere.
Vi ringrazio gentilmente per il Vostro aiuto.
Cordialmente vostro,
Dati Personali …(write your name, and postal address)


I will appreciate it very much if you could seek the following records (atti) and then send me extracts with names of parents: ……
Enclosed is a money order for $5.00. If it is insufficient, please inform me of the additional amount to send.
Thank you kindly.