The location of the Portuguese ancestor’s register is crucial to carry out the process of citizenship of the descendants, as well as the transcription of acts of civil registration of the same.
Sometimes, in addition to the baptismal/birth certificate, it is also necessary to locate marriage registrations, travel passports, death registrations, etc.
In order to locate records in Portugal, it is often necessary to have the full Portuguese details – which are also not always easy to locate.
In addition to the service of locating and issuing the Portuguese document, we also guide clients in the identification of the Portuguese data that will allow the document to be traced in Portugal and in the rectification of documents abroad if it is subsequently necessary.
The more complete the information available, the faster and more likely the outcome.
The essential data are:
Other information about the Portuguese person’s background, family, migration, etc. may be important. It is important to share any information you think may help.
Gather the following documents
It may be necessary to obtain other documents in order to collect this information, such as marriage certificates, death certificates, children’s certificates, etc.
Locating the vital records, i.e. birth, marriage and death records, of Portuguese citizens may not be a simple task.
The first thing to take into account is the date, because depending on the year in which the event occurred, the registration can be parochial (Baptism Certificate) or civil registration (Birth Certificate).
Although there are some earlier records, it was from the 16th century onwards that parish priests began to consistently keep books with everyone’s baptism, marriage and death records – because before that time parish priests practically only recorded the baptisms and marriages of the nobility.
Despite advances and setbacks in the attempt to establish Civil Registration, it was not until 1991, after the fall of the Monarchy and with the Separation of State and Church, that it became compulsory.
Also at that time, the State determined that all parish registers (baptisms, marriages and deaths) prior to 1911 would be civilly effective and transferred from the respective parish churches to the newly established Civil Registry Offices.
A note for those who do not know the administrative division in Portugal – the districts encompass several municipalities and each municipality encompasses several parishes – the parishes correspond to the smallest division that sometimes correspond to the parish churches but not always did. In addition there is the natural progression of the parishes over the years so today may be different.
There is at least one Civil Registry Office for each municipality in Portugal, but today not all records are archived here. At different rates and in some cases before or after digitisation or computerisation, parish registers have been transferred mostly to the custody of district archives (and in some situations municipal and regional archives).
Thus, a register prior to 1911 is hardly computerised and cannot be located in a Civil Registry either. So it is necessary to search in a District Archive or other.
In summary, depending on the date and place of the event, the document may be archived in different places, from Civil Registry Offices, Central Registry Offices, District Archives, Regional Archives and Libraries, Municipal Archives, Parish Archives, etc.
The big issue is that if this is the case, it will be necessary to know the exact parish of the baptism (which may well not be the same as that of the birth), as well as the year of the baptism in order to be able to examine the corresponding year book.
It is crucial to understand that these searches can be time-consuming and require meticulous attention, as well as checking year by year in each book. Most do not even have an index and the records of the time were handwritten and often almost illegible.
In addition, in many situations the information that families have, and that is available in later documents is not completely correct and all kinds of inconsistencies are common: the year is not the correct one and we must search a few years before and after the date referred to, the names have adapted or changed completely, the place they know or appears in other documents corresponds to the district, but they do not know which is the parish … Anyway, sometimes it is even necessary to resort to the help of genealogists.
It is therefore not possible to guarantee the outcome of our search work, especially when the person concerned does not have full details. Although we do our utmost to locate the document.
However, it is almost always possible to locate a Portuguese person’s birth registration, especially if they were born after 1911, or even earlier, although in some situations it takes longer and it is necessary to examine the books in person, check several years, etc.
Lamares, Capela & Associados provides its services to national and international individuals and companies.