Finding Your Basque Ancestors
If you have Basque ancestors you should consider yourself very lucky. The people from the Basque regions of Spain and France have a great culture and they have great records. This page is created to help you get started in searching for your Basque ancestors. You will find links, How-to Guides, steps, and tricks that can help you in searching for your ancestors.
The Basques are from the Euskal Herria or Basque Country. This covers 4 provinces in Spain and 1 department of France (before 1790 they were 3 separate provinces). Below is a map showing the Basque region with the names of the provinces.
The part in blue is known today as País Vasco (or Basque Country). Both the blue and purple segments are found in Spain.
The part in orange became part of the department Basses-Pyrénées in 1790. In 1969 it became known as Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
Most Commonly Used Record Types
There are four main record types that you will use when researching your Basque ancestors.
These government records are extremely valuable resource. These are you birth, marriage, and death records. There are a couple of important start dates to realize when starting to research in this record type.
The orange portion from the map above will have the earliest civil registration records available. These records normally start in 1792 and are organized at the comune. You will find that these records prove to be very valuable and an excellent resource when searching for your French Basque ancestors. The other benefit is that these records have been digitized and are available online from the Department Archive website. Here is the link to accessing the records from this area of the Basque Country:
The blue and purple portions from the map above have two different time periods for civil registration records. For some of the towns and cities you will find that the civil registration records begin between 1837 and 1840. These records can many times be found at the municipal archives. In 1871, the national civil registration records started and they are also going to be found at the municipality. Unfortunately, these records are not available online but you may be able to order a copy of these records by writing to the civil registration office of the city your ancestors were from.
You will spend most of your time in these records. Found at the parish level you may find that most of the towns you research in will only have one parish. These records can start as early as the 1550s and they will either be found written in Spanish or French, depending on which side of the border the town is located.
The French side of the Basque Country (or the orange portion of the map above) have digitized and are available online through the following website:
The records from Navarra (or the purple portion on the map above) have not been completely digitized or indexed. You will find that the few records that are available online will be found at FamilySearch.org. We recommend that you use a combination of the FamilySearch Catalog and FamilySearch Record Search to find your records.
The records for País Vasco (or the blue portion of the map above) are mostly indexed. Some of the records are available digitally on FamilySearch but there are restrictions. You will probably need to visit your local family history center or the Family History Library to view the records digitally or on microfilm. You can order the records for a small fee by contacting the archive website. In order to search through the indexed records for all three provinces you will want to use the following website:
[https://dokuklik.euskadi.eus/ - There are only records listed on this website 1900 or earlier.
If your ancestors are from Vizcaya you can also use the following website:
If your ancestors are from Guipúzcoa you can also use the following website:
If your ancestors are from Álava you can also use the following website:
Municipal Census Records
These are a valuable resource but can be difficult to find. These records were made by the different cities and their purpose for creation varies between each census. These records are usually found in the town the census was taken and are only found onsite. For the French Basque area you can find them in the Department Archive in Bayonne.
These are legal documents created by a notary (who performs the function of a contract lawyer). To learn more about this record set go to the Spain Notarial Records page in the wiki.
There are two locations online that you can find these records, in all other cases you must visit the archives in Spain. In both of these cases they are not all available but they do have a large portion of the records. For the French Basque area you can find them at the following website:
The other area you can find these are for Guipúzcoa on this website:
Pyrénées-Atlantiques Department Archive Website - This website is where you want to go to get all civil registration, parish records, or notarial records for the French Basque region.
Dokuklik - This website is the go to website for all parish records found in País Vasco.
Archivo Histórico Eclesiástico de Bizkaia - This is the website for those who are from the Vizcaya province.
Archivo Histórico Diocesano de San Sebastian - This is the website for those who are from the Guipúzcoa province.
Archivos Históricos de la Diputación Foral de Gipuzkoa - This website contains the notarial records of Guipúzcoa.
Archivo Diocesano de Vitoria - This is the website for those who are from the Álava province.