Jamaica Civil Registration

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Civil Registration for Jamaica was mandated in 1878 though actual registration began in isolated districts as much as five years later. Each parish was assigned a letter by the Registrar General, omitting J. Parishes are subdivided into registration districts, which are relevant only to vital-record registrations and have no other civil or fiscal authority. Districts continue to be added as the population grows, so the earliest registrations may have occurred much later than 1878.

Civil records were filmed and cataloged in by the Family History Library in 1995 by parishes (see Jamaica jurisdictions page). From the FamilySearch Catalog one has to choose Civil Registration Indexes to get started in civil record research. The menu shows dates up to 1830, however, the actual filmed records in some parishes may exceed 1950. Checking the index and then the actual record should provide the information one is looking for. The actual record can be found in the catalog under Jamaica/Civil Registration, listed by parish.

Districts are identified at the beginning of each film. Be sure to identify the correct district. Looking at actual records one will find individual certificates.

Civilly registered vital record certificates are identified by two separately stamped character groups that together comprise the civil registration number. Civil registration numbers are alphanumeric codes, for instance: KAC8538. The first part is a two- OR three-character alphabetic code, often stamped in an oval border, where the first character represents the parish and the second (and third) represent the district. The second part of the number is a sequentially assigned one- to five-digit registration number. FamilySearch indexing project examples misidentified the numeric part of the civil registration number on certificates as "page numbers" for some projects, resulting in faulty arbitration and meaningless pagination in some of its indices; sequential page numbers were written on some slip bundles in the upper right-hand corner, but not in all parishes and not by all parish clerks.

Occasionally record slips will be found with both handwritten and stamped numbers. It appears that these records are reproductions or reconstructions from lost records. In such cases the handwritten rather than the stamped number probably represents the correct registration number.

Until at least 1930 (and probably continuing to the present), when a district registrar’s sequential numbering reached 10,000 the series started over: e.g., FB9999, FB10000, FB1, FB2, etc. Registration numbers for urban districts obviously turned over much more frequently than isolated rural ones. This means that no Jamaican civil registration number is absolutely unique.

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