Greece Civil Registration
Civil registration consists of vital records made by the government. Records of births, marriages, and deaths are commonly referred to as vital records because they refer to critical events in a person’s life. Civil registration records are an excellent source for accurate information on names, dates, and places of births, marriages, and deaths.
The Greek term for vital records is Lixiarheion, which is also the title of the office for vital records created in 1925. When making requests for older records, it is best to avoid this term. Some districts and counties compiled information of birth, marriage, and death records for a community into volumes. These civil registers mostly cover the 1840s–1940s. They are compiled from other sources and may include errors. The records are in the local mayor’s office. Copies may also be found in the county offices (Nomarhia). Copies from various town halls and city archives have been filmed from the counties of Athens (Attikis), Leukados, and Peiraios. Beginning about the 1840s, civil registration was formally established, requiring that separate records of birth, marriage, and death be kept by the local government. A separate record-keeping administration, Lixiarheion, was not fully established until 1925, when a national department for government registration of vital records was established. Even then, the practice of civil registration was not fully established in all areas until 1931.
For birth, death, and marriage records before 1925, see the “Church Records” section.
Information Recorded in Civil Registers[edit | edit source]
The most important civil records for genealogical research are birth, marriage, and death registers. Contemporary civil registration records usually contain the following information.
Birth records generally give the child’s name; date the birth was reported; place of birth; hour, date, and day of the week of birth; date, place, and parish of baptism; the father’s name, occupation, religion, citizenship, and residence; the mother’s name; and the godparents’ names.
Civil officials recorded the marriages in registers, usually preprinted forms bound in a book and kept in the civil office. Marriage registers give the date of the marriage, the names of the bride and groom, their ages, their places of birth, their residences, their occupations, their citizenship, their religion, whether this is their first or a subsequent marriage, and their parents’ names.
Death records are helpful because they may provide important information on a person’s birth, spouse, and parents. Death records generally give the name of the deceased person; date recorded; time, date, and day of the week of the death; place and cause of death; birthplace; age; residence; occupation; religion; citizenship; marital status; spouse’s name; father’s name; and mother’s name. Women’s maiden names are not mentioned in death records. Civil death records often exist for individuals for whom there are no birth or marriage records. Deaths were usually registered within a few days of the death in the town or city where the person died.
When Greece became an independent state, communities began keeping registers of males (Mitroon Arrenon), which list all the males born in a particular community. They were kept for voting and military purposes. Male registers were created for all communities in Greece. As new areas became part of Greece, their communities also began keeping male registers. In some areas male registers were reconstructed from other records back to 1825.
Some areas also kept a female register (Mitroon Thilaion), which usually started at a later date than the male register. These registers were created retrospectively and therefore may be missing some people. Male and female registers give the following information: name of the person, father’s name, year of birth (later registers list full date of birth), place of birth, and mother’s given name. The entries are listed chronologically by the date of birth. Some male registers in the counties of Euvoias and Argolidos have been microfilmed and can be found in the catalog under the name of the town and the heading “Civil Registration.”
Town (Resident) Registers
Town (resident) registers are lists of family groups living in a particular locality. For communities where these registers exist, the registers start by at least 1887. They list the given name, age, and occupation for each individual. Once a resident register was compiled, it was kept current by adding new information such as marriage, death, and immigration dates. These records can be found in the municipal archives.
Locating Civil Registration Records[edit | edit source]
Civil registration records are kept at the local town hall (Dimarheion) in each town or city. Copies are also available at the county offices (Nomarheion). You can obtain information from these recent civil registration records by writing to or visiting the local mayor’s offices. Your ancestor may have lived in a village that belonged to a nearby (larger) town. In large cities, there may be many civil registration districts. You may need to use gazetteers and other geographic references to identify the place your ancestor lived and the civil registration office that served it. See the “Gazetteers” section of this outline. In addition to the town, you need to know at least an approximate year in which the birth, marriage, divorce, or death occurred.
Records at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]
The Family History Library has microfilmed civil registration records. Records of the Lixiarheion have been filmed for the cities of Athinai (Athens), Peiraieus, Thessaloniki, and Nafplion. To find out what other records and time periods have been microfilmed, check the Family History Library Catalog.
The specific holdings of the Family History Library are listed in the Family History Library Catalog. To find civil registration records in the Family History Library, search in the Place search of the library’s catalog under:
GREECE - CIVIL REGISTRATION
GREECE, [COUNTY] - CIVIL REGISTRATION
GREECE, [COUNTY], [DISTRICT] - CIVIL REGISTRATION
GREECE, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - CIVIL REGISTRATION
The Library’s collection continues to grow as new records are microfilmed and added to the collection from numerous sources. Don’t give up if records are not available yet. Check the Family History Library Catalog from time to time to see if new records have been acquired from your area of Greece.
Locating Records Not at the Family History Library[edit | edit source]
Birth, marriage, divorce, and death records may be found by contacting or visiting local civil registration offices or archives in Greece. For records not available at the Family History Library, you will need to write to the local archives in Greece.