Family register

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A family register (also known in several variations, such as household register and family album, and, when discussing non-anglophone countries, the native-language names of the registers such as koseki in Japan, Familienbuch in Germany, and hukou in China) is a civil registry used in many countries to track information of a genealogical or family-centric legal interest.

Often, official recognition of certain events or status may be granted only when such event or status is registered in the family registry—for example, in Japan, a marriage is legally effective when and only when such filing is recorded into the household register (known as a koseki). In other cases, the family register serves as a centralized repository for family legal events, such as births, deaths, marriages, and expatriations, as with the familienbuch in use in Germany and the livret de famille [fr] in France,[1] although it is not the sole source of official recognition for such events.

Use of government-sanctioned or administered family registers, while common in many European nations and in countries which use continental-style civil law (where the family or household is legally viewed as the fundamental unit of a nation), is nonetheless rare in English-speaking countries (for example, the closest equivalent in the United Kingdom is the electoral roll, which is also organised by household, but it is limited in the amount of information recorded).[citation needed]

Although the United States for example assigns most citizens and residents a Social Security number intended to be unique to the recipient and information regarding birth, death and work history (in the form of contributions to the Social Security system) is collected, the U.S. Social Security Administration has long been intentionally restricted in the scope of information collected and maintained regarding individuals where not directly related to Social Security benefits—as such, no information is centrally collected regarding marriage, citizenship status, parentage, or the like, in contrast to the German and Japanese family register systems.

Establishment of a more comprehensive personal information repository (along the lines of the Japanese or former German systems) has been criticized by civil liberties advocates as subject to governmental or criminal abuse, while proponents cite the benefits of simplified access to vital information.

In South Korea, use of the hojeok (similar to the Japanese household registry, written using identical Chinese characters) was repealed in 2005, in favor of a personal registry system.

The systems of household registers in China, Korea and Japan date back to the Tang Dynasty or Heian Period or earlier, both since the seventh century.

List of household register systems[edit]

East Asia[edit]

  • The Hukou system (户口), also known as Huji (户籍) system, in China
  • The Koseki system (戸籍) in Japan.
  • The Hoju scheme is a family register system in North Korea. Hoju (Korean호주; Hanja戶主) means the 'head of the family', Hojuje (Korean호주제; Hanja戶主制) is the 'head of the family' system, and Hojeok (alternate romanization: Hojok; 호적, 戶籍) is the 'family register'.
  • The former Hoju system in South Korea attracted controversy for being innately patriarchal and hence representing a 'violation of the right to gender equality'. It was abolished on 1 January 2008.[2] On 1 January 2008, 'Family relationship registration' system(Korean: 가족관계등록부) began.
  • The Household registration system (戶籍, Mandarin: Hùjí, Taiwanese: Hō͘-che̍k, Hakka: Fu-sit) in Taiwan.

South East Asia[edit]


The hộ khẩu is nominally a household and residence registration system—hộ is the Sino-Vietnamese word for "household," and khẩu, literally "mouth" in Sino-Vietnamese, means "household member." The local authority issues to each household a "household registration book" or sổ hộ khẩu, in which the basic biographical information of each household member is recorded. The sổ hộ khẩu is the ultimate legal proof of residence in Vietnam. Together with the "citizen identification card" or giấy chứng minh nhân dân/căn cước công dân, the sổ hộ khẩu constitutes the most important legal identification document in Vietnam.

Modeled after the Chinese hukou system and originally used in urban areas only, hộ khẩu functioned as a way to manage urban growth and limit how many people moved, as well as who moved, in and out of the city.[3] Gradually the system became a universal method of control as its application expanded to the countryside. It helped the government keep track of not just movement but also births and deaths. And at certain point during the latter half of the twentieth century, a tight local surveillance system existed to ensure that people were sleeping at the address they had registered as their own. The joke was that the unintended effect of the whole system was the prevention of extramarital affairs.[4]

Even after substantial reforms in the 1990s, the hộ khẩu system is complicated and cumbersome. It defines four types of residence, KT1 through KT4. KT1 is the primary and permanent type of residence, and denotes a person's primary residential address. If this person moves on a semi-permanent basis to another place within the same province or national municipality (within Saigon, for example), then he or she needs to register for a KT2 residential status at that new address. If this same move happens across provincial borders, then the person has to sign up for a KT3 registration. For migrant workers and students temporarily residing outside of their province or national municipality of permanent residence, they need to apply for a KT4 registration.[3] Navigating this matrix of regulations is tough. But the public security apparatus that manages the hộ khẩu system is also difficult to deal with, especially if one is a poor migrant worker with little to no formal education. Yet hộ khẩu remains absolutely crucial, especially for the poor. It is tied to access to welfare benefits, and, in the case of children, the right to attend public school.[5] For a migrant family in Saigon with no KT3 or KT4 registration, subsidised medical care, poverty assistance, and almost-free schooling are all out of reach.[4]

In 2017, the government of Vietnam changed the registration system: now instead of the registration books citizens use an online database.[6]


  • The Tabien Baan (ทะเบียนบ้าน), or document proving House Registration, is distributed by a village, city, or other municipal authority. The Tabien Baan (sometimes spelled Tambien Baan) reflects the residents who live at a specific property (this document is not used as proof of Real Estate ownership, for that one must have a Thai Chanote or Title Deed). The Tabien Baan (House Registration) is issued to Thai Citizens and is used as a permanent address for service of process and other official mailings.
  • A Tabien Baan is an extremely important document for Thai nationals because it acts as proof of a Thai person's residence. Therefore, it is used to determine a Thai person's voting district and in the case of Thai men of military age, the Tabien Baan is used to ascertain what district the Thai man will be placed in when drawing for the military draft. This can be critical because if one district reaches a certain level of volunteers then it is not necessary to further draft any inhabitants of that district. As a result, a Thai man's House Registration (Tabien Baan) can have a massive impact upon their life and career depending upon the district in which they live.[7]


Kartu Keluarga (literally Family Card) is a document in Indonesia that proves residency and which records relationships and family members. Every family in Indonesia is required to own one of these documents. Despite its name, the document is technically a document paper (instead of a card) and large in size.

This document records the identity of the family's head and the individual members. The document is kept by the family's head, ketua RT (head of neighborhood association) and desa or kelurahan office. The document is a provincial government document, thus, it is not permitted to strike out, change, replace or make additions in the document. Every data change has to be reported to the village or kelurahan office which will replace the old one with the updated one. Newcomers are not recorded in the document until they have been reported or have been deemed not to have local residency status.

Changes in data have to be reported within 14 working days by the family's head to desa or kelurahan office. Each report of changes must be submitted with the copy that is held by the family's head and ketua RT. Changes in data include: birth, death or migration (of a member).

However, if a family moves to different desa or kelurahan, the document must be revoked by desa or kelurahan office, which must be submitted with the copy that held by family's head and ketua RT. The official in the prior location will produce Surat Keterangan Pindah (Note of Migration) which will be used to make the new Kartu Keluarga in the arrival by desa or kelurahan office.

Continental Europe[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robiac, Emma (1 May 2013). Jacquline Taylor (ed.). In a Mother's Words (Print). Paris: EP. p. 17.
  2. ^ "Welcome to KWDI". Archived from the original on 2012-09-19. Retrieved 2008-08-13.
  3. ^ a b Hardy, Andrew. "Rules and Resources: Negotiating the Household Registration System in Vietnam under Reform." Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia 16, no. 2 (October 2001): 187-212.
  4. ^ a b Hardy, Andrew. "State Visions, Migrant Decisions: Population Movements since the End of the Vietnam War." In Postwar Vietnam: Dynamics of a Transforming Society, edited by Hy V Luong. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2003.
  5. ^ Abrami, Regina and Nolwen Henaff. "The City and the Countryside: Economy, State and Socialist Legacies in the Vietnamese Labour Market." In Reach for the Dream: Challenges of Sustainable Development in Vietnam, edited by Melanie Beresford and Tran Ngoc Angie, 95-134. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, 2004.
  6. ^ Vietnam has decided to stop controlling citizens with permanent residence book
  7. ^ "Thailand House Registration: What is a Tabien Baan?".