Civil registration has been conducted, and mandatory, in Hungary since October 1895. Of course, after this date religious communities continued to register locally events of birth or baptism, marriage, and death or burial, but these ceased to carry legal recognition. 

In common with most other European countries, registration of birth, marriage and death in Hungary is not centralised; rather it is conducted, and all records are held, locally at municipal level. 

This can cause serious problems for the genealogist, especially when undertaking 20th century research. Self-evidently, it is necessary to know exactly where a child was born, a couple married or a person died in order to request a certified copy of an entry from the register. If you do not know this, you need to make enquiries, often unavoidably speculative, to find out. 

The problem is magnified when a family being researched comes from the capital. Budapest is today sub-divided into 23 separate districts. The districts are customarily identified by Roman numerals. For example, the northern district (kerület) of Újpest, on the east bank of the Duna (Danube), is Budapest IV, while the inner city Pest district of Erzsébetváros is Budapest VII. 

Many of these districts are of modern origin, encompassing large suburbs and outlying villages which have been swallowed up by the capital during its growth in the 20th century. The original, historic districts are the 10 numbered from I to X and it is in these that you should concentrate enquiries if you do not know where a family lived after 1895. 

As is also common in Europe, the more recent civil registers are closed, other than to the individual, their close family or attorney, for a prescribed number of years, on account of personal privacy and data protection concerns. In Hungary, births are restricted for 90 years, marriages for 60 and deaths for 30. It is usually possible for private family historians to obtain certificates from within these closed periods upon application to the relevant register office, subject to proof of identity and relationship. A letter of authority can be used to delegate the application for certificates to a third party such as Bluebird Research and we would be happy to advise further upon request.

Filed under: Genealogy Research

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