If you have decided to research your family roots in Latvia, often the first step will be to request birth, marriage, or death certificates from Latvian institutions. Can anyone request these certificates? And how can you obtain them if you live outside of Latvia?
In this blog post, I will guide you how to Request a Birth, Marriage, or Death Certificate from Civil Registry Department of the Ministry of Justice of Latvia.
Types of Registers
Before we dive into the process, it's important to understand the different types of registers where the certificates are kept in Latvia.
Church registers and civil registers from the last 100 years are stored at the Civil registry office of the respective district. However, you can request information from any registry office or from the Civil Registry Department of the Ministry of Justice
Church registers and registers older than 100 years are transferred to the Latvian State Historical Archives. To obtain certificates from these registers, you should contact the Historical Archives.
In this blog post, I will review how to obtain certificates for the last 100 years.
Requesting Certificates from Abroad
If you live outside of Latvia and need to request certificates, there are several ways to do so:
By Mail: You can send a signed application by post to the TM Dzimtsarakstu departaments, Brīvības bulvāris 36, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1536 . If you prefer to email your application, it must be electronically signed.
Through Embassy or Consulate: Another option is to request certificates through the Latvian Embassy or Consulate nearest to your location.
Using latvija.lv: Latvian residents with a Latvian ID card or a Latvian bank account can request certificates through the latvija.lv online service. The service is called "Request for a duplicated birth (or marriage or death) certificate or a certificate from the birth (mariage/ death) register ". However, this option may not be available to those without Latvian citizenship or residency.
Understanding Legal Rights and Requirements
It's important to understand that there can be misunderstandings regarding who has the right to request and receive certificates for deceased persons. While the Data Protection Regulation does not protect the data of deceased individuals, the Civil Status Registration Act does.
According to the Act, "The right to access death records and request a death certificate, a notification of death registration, or a copy of the death record is granted to the deceased's relative or their authorized representative.”
To request a death certificate, it is necessary to prove your kinship with the deceased individual. Let's assume that the deceased is your grandmother's brother. In this case, several documents will be required:
Your grandmother's birth certificate or a copy of the baptismal register in the church register.
A copy of your grandmother's brother's birth certificate. If you don't have this, you should first request his birth certificate and then his death certificate. To request your grandmother's brother's birth certificate, you will need your grandmother's birth certificate to prove the relationship.
Your grandmother's marriage certificate.
Your father's birth certificate (assuming that your grandmother is your father's mother).
Your own birth certificate. If your surname is different from your father's surname due to a name change (such as through marriage), you will need a document justifying the change, such as a marriage certificate.
If someone other than a relative is making the request or obtaining the certificate on your behalf, they will need a notarized power of attorney.
While the process of requesting certificates may seem bureaucratic and complicated, it is often necessary for family research purposes. By following the steps outlined in this blog post and providing the required documentation, you can gather accurate information about your ancestors.