Civil registration is the system with which a government records the vital events of its citizens. The primary purpose of civil registration is to create legal documents that are used to establish and protect the civil rights of individuals. A secondary purpose is to create a data source for the compilation of vital statistics.
The United Nations defines civil registration as "the continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events pertaining to the population as provided through decree or regulation in accordance with the legal requirements of a country. Civil registration is carried out primarily for the purpose of establishing the legal documents provided by the law. These records are also a main source of vital statistics. Complete coverage, accuracy and timeliness of civil registration are essential for quality vital statistics.
Vital events that are typically recorded include live birth, death, foetal death, marriage, divorce, annulment of marriage, judicial separation of marriage, adoption, legitimization and recognition. Among the legal documents that are derived from civil registration are birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates.
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