Frequently asked questions

Research

I would like to obtain birth, marriage, and death records of my ancestors. Is this possible?


Yes, but depending on the birth, marriage, or death year, the research process differs. There were no civil registers before 1921. Birth, marriage and death were registered by the relevant church, and we can collect copies from the parish registers for the period prior to 1915. Most of these church registers are microfilmed, scanned, and available online on Raduraksti digital collection. We can obtain copies from these.

The parish registers for 1910–1919 are available on site in LVVA, and we can obtain copies of these, too.

Parish registers post 1919, and civil records beginning from 1921, are kept in the Archive of Civil Registry Office (LR Tieslietu ministrijas Dzimtsarakstu departamenta arhīvs) in Riga or the civil registry office in the relevant municipality (dzimtsarakstu nodaļa).

You can request birth, marriage or death certificate from the Archive of Civil Registry Office. This is a paid service and you must provide:

  1. Information of the time and place of birth or marriage

  2. Copies of the documents—birth and/ or, marriage certificates—proving that you are related to the person you are requesting information about.

No more than seven years can be reviewed for one request, if the birth, marriage or death date is unknown.

We can request the birth, marriage or death certificate on your behalf with:

  1. Information of the time and place of birth or marriage

  2. Your notarized and apostilled power of attorney

  3. Copies of the documents proving your relationship to the person you are requesting information about.

To contact the Civil Registry Office Archive directly, please write to dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv




Can you find out where and when my ancestor died?


If your ancestor died before 1914, then we can search in church registers, however it may require a lot of work if the year and place of death is not known.

Vital records post 1914 are not available to the public or researchers. You can obtain the death certificate from the Archive of Civil Registry Office (LR Tieslietu ministrijas Dzimtsarakstu departamenta arhīvs) in Riga or the civil registry office in the relevant municipality (dzimtsarakstu nodaļa). This is a paid service and you must provide:

  1. Information of the time and place of death,

  2. Copies of the documents—birth and/ or, marriage certificates—proving that you are related to this person.

No more than seven years can be reviewed for one request.

We can request the death certificate on your behalf with:

  1. Information of the time and place of death,

  2. Your notarized and apostilled power of attorney,

  3. Copies of the documents proving your relationship to the deceased person.

To contact the Civil Registry Office Archive directly, please write to dzimts.dep@tm.gov.lv

You can also search two online databases, cemety.lv and Nekropole.info, however, these databases, do not contain information on all inhabitants of Latvia.




Can you find out what happened to my ancestors during the Soviet occupation?


This is a difficult task, because the documents give a reference to the past, but not to the fate of a person, and the war changed people’s lives very dramatically. If you know the address of your ancestor and when they lived there, then the search in the house books or other documents registering inhabitants is possible. If you know where the person worked, then some research is also possible. Keep in mind that all personal information from the post-war period is protected by the Archives Law (of Republic of Latvia) and the EU General Data Protection Regulation so the researcher will need your signed power of attorney, as well as copies of the documents proving your relationship to the requested ancestor.

If you know only the name of your ancestor, then you can search the Internet, or in some of the few electronic databases:

No searchable database of passports or census records for the post-WWII period exists.

No database exists for those who emigrated from Latvia during WWII.




My family emigrated from Latvia in 1944. Can you find out how they fled and where they lived in Germany?


The records of Displaced Person camps are kept in Bad Arolsen, Germany, and the International Tracing Service can be contacted for further information.

The ITS does not keep documents on prisoners of war who were not exploited for forced labor, or on the fates or whereabouts of members of the German armed forces.




Do you research Jewish families?


We are not experts in Jewish history in Latvia, but we can help you. In our experience, JewishGen Database is the most useful source for researching Latvian Jewish families. In most cases, Jewish names used in the Russian Empire differ a lot from those used post emigration, therefore try various versions when researching the database. There is little we can add to the pre-1914 period sources already published in this database, but we can collect document copies from the Interwar period, such as passport copies or house book records. We can also suggest the LU Database The Latvian Names Project to research the fates of Latvian Jews during the Holocaust.




Is it possible that you come up with no results?


In our experience to date, we have not had such a case, but it is possible that an ancestry line can not to be followed further, because of a lack of records. There are areas in Latvia that do not have complete church registers.




I would like to find relatives in Latvia. Can you help me?


To find living relatives, usually an initial archival research is necessary. If you already know your relatives birth date and parents’ names, then you can use the paid service “Transferring wanted persons letters” available on Latvija.lv portal, or send a request and a letter by post to the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs (OCMA), The OCMA Population Register is an electronic database begun in 1992, so it contains information only on those people who lived in Latvia from 1992. The OCMA will verify if your relative can be found in the Population Register, and if the result is positive, they will forward your letter to your relative’s postal address. You will not receive your relative’s address, though. If the person you are searching for died prior to 1992, they will not be registered. If the person died post-1992, then there is a chance that OCMA will identify their descendants and forward your letter to them. We are not detectives and searching for living family members is not our focus, but in some cases, we can include this as a final phase of the research project.





Service

How and when do I pay you?


Full payment in advance is required. You can pay by PayPal or arrange a bank transfer to our bank account. Using TransferWise.com allows to save money on bank fees. Payment details are included on the invoice.




How long does it take to complete the research?


It can take up to a month to complete a research report. The twenty-hour research plan may take longer than a month. For example, after requesting LVVA archival documents it takes three days to be given access to the original documents. Every subsequent request also takes three days.




How do I receive the report and copies?


The report will be sent to your email address as a pdf file. Digital copies of the archival documents will be sent to your email address via WeTransfer. You will receive a download link which is active for seven days.





Contacts

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© 2018 by Agnese Lūse, Katrīna Kanepone, Madara Lieciniece