Civil Registration and Vital Statistics

Birth registration is part of a Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) System. It provides essential legal, administrative and statistical functions and is crucial for upholding human rights and for supporting national development.

Civil Registration is “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 in each country.”
Vital statistics “constitute the collection of statistics on vital events in a lifetime of a person as well as relevant characteristics of the events themselves and of the person and persons concerned. Vital statistics provide crucial and critical information on the population in a country.”
— UN definition of Civil Registration & Vital Statistics

The civil registry provides individuals with the documentary evidence required to secure recognition of their legal identity, their family relationships, their nationality and their ensuing rights. It can also help facilitate access to essential services, such as health, education, and social welfare and can contribute to activities such as gaining formal employment, exercising electoral rights, transferring property, and opening bank accounts.

Through a CRVS system, data gathered through the civil registration process is used for the production of vital statistics. Statistics on population dynamics, health and inequities in service delivery can be produced on a continuous basis, both for the country as a whole and for local administrative subdivisions. These statistics not only underpin the accurate assessment of economic growth and poverty levels of a country, but they also provide the means of measuring global targets, including commitments to universal health coverage and tackling the global epidemic of non-communicable diseases.

CRVS typically involves a number of government ministries and departments, requiring close coordination between all responsible parties to maintain a functioning system. 

The civil registry should also be recognised as a key foundational register on which to build upon, feeding in to (or as part of) a population register and national ID system. An accurate register of births, for example, can facilitate more reliable verification of a person's existence when creating a record in a functional register such as those for voter registration and passports. Recognising this, CRVS systems should be designed to facilitate the sharing of data between foundational registers (civil registry, population registers, national ID systems), functional registers (health systems, voter registration systems etc.) and statistical institutions.

CRVS Business Domain

More than 100 countries lack the capacity to track major life events like births, deaths and marriages
— World Bank, WHO, 2015