Our Dominican Certificate Service: Q&A
Who is the custodian of the Dominican civil registry? The Central Electoral Board (Junta Central Electoral) of the Dominican Republic manages all public records relating to births, deaths, marriages, adoptions and divorces.
Central Electoral Board of the Dominican Republic (JCE)
So, where are the records stored? Civil registry offices are located around the country, and must log each record twice, in two identical original ledgers. One ledger is stored locally. Since 1944 the duplicate ledgers must be sent to the Central Archive in Santo Domingo for safe-keeping.
Is there anywhere else where records are stored? Yes, the civil registry offices have most records from the 1920s on. For older records, a great place to search is the General Archive of the Nation in Santo Domingo which keeps a vast array of all sorts of old records on its shelves. Also, the Catholic churches around the country have many old baptism records.
For example, the Archbishopric of Santo Domingo, located next to the María La Menor cathedral, has old records from some of the Santo Domingo parishes. The Mormon Church in Santo Domingo has started an aggressive program of computerizing old records.
Searching for Records
Can I run an online search for Dominican public records of births, deaths and marriages? No, this facility does not exist.
What sort of condition are the physical ledgers in? The high humidity in the Dominican Republic and the deficient supply of electricity, and a shortage of public funds to spend on air-conditioning etc all mean that many original records outside Santo Domingo are in poor physical shape. Many old books have simply disintegrated.
Will the certificate that you send me be identical in every way to the certificate that was issued when I was born or married? Yes, the information on a certificate issued nowadays will be identical to the information on the certificate issued when you were born or married. The only difference is that nowadays certificates are issued on special coloured security paper, each sheet of which has its own serial/reference number, and has a hologram for security reasons. Until recently the certificates were printed on un-numbered headed white sheets of paper. A certificate is actually an extract of an original record which is kept in a handwritten ledger. The certificate is proof that the record exists in ledger # X, on page X of date X.
Errors in Dominican public records
Is it true that Dominican records of births, deaths and marriages etc often have mistakes? Yes, unfortunately we see mistakes on certificates every week. We know from our own extensive experience that over 30% of all Dominican records which we have handled, contain some very simple mistakes.
What type of mistakes have you encountered in Dominican public records? There are generally two different types of mistakes we have experienced:
- Spelling or factual mistakes in the original handwritten ledger entry, where someone's name has been spelled incorrectly, or where the nationality is totally wrong. For example, "Derek" written as "Kerek", "García" written as "Garcías", or "Dominican" given as the nationality instead of "US citizen".
- Births etc which in the original handwritten ledgers have been recorded correctly, but which have been misspelled when the handwritten ledger entries have been computerized and typed into the registry-office database in order for the certificates to be printed. For example the date of birth in the original ledger entry may be correctly entered as "30 June" but during the computerization stage has been entered wrongly as "3 June".
How easy is it for errors to be corrected? If the names etc were recorded correctly in the original ledger but were only misspelled whilst being computerized for the certificate to be printed, there is generally no problem.We simply point out to the officials that for example the date of birth is wrong. They double-check against the correct original ledger entry, and accept the error and correct the record.
On the other hand, if at the time of the wedding ceremony pertinent details were handwritten incorrectly into the original ledger entry, for example if the civil judge wrongly copied the bridegroom Derek's name as "Kerek", or Derek's bride's date of birth as "3 June" instead of the correct 30th June, then the process involved to have the ledger entry retroactively corrected and altered, is extremely lengthy, and can take over a year. This is because Derek and his bride at the time would have signed to state that the above information was correct.This should serve as a lesson to all that any mistakes should be corrected before the ledger is signed.
Ordering your Dominican certificates from the Dominican Certification Service
Can anyone apply for a Dominican birth, marriage, death, adoption or divorce certificate? Yes, these Dominican records are public.
I have read that there are many types of Dominican certificates. What type would you recommend we order from you? We always send the full longform certificates which contain the complete information which was handwritten into the ledger when the ledger was declared. The longform certificates are the type most required by government bodies and embassies.
If we order a Dominican birth/marriage/death/divorce/adoption certificate from you, how do you go about it? We start by invoicing you for a search fee. The amount we charge to search for your Dominican record depends on the age of the record, and on the amount of missing data. For example if you are unsure of the date, or do not know the name of a town of birth etc.
We start at the Central Registry Office in Santo Domingo or at the local registry office where the original record is stored - whichever is closest to us. If the birth/marriage/death etc took place in the past 30 years or so, then we don't expect any problems. Older records can be problematic, trying to get Dominican records from before 1980 can sometimes be very difficult.
At the registry-office, the staff look up your birth/marriage etc record in their computerized database, sometimes they're even able to view your scanned handwritten ledger record on their screen. Unfortunately, not all Dominican records have been computerized so we sometimes have no alternative but to conduct a manual search for the original ledger which contains your marriage record, which you signed when you got married. Some Dominican towns have more than one registry office, so now and again we have to visit all of the registry offices in that town to locate a record.
Once we have located your record, we ask at the registry-office for a draft print-out of your record. This draft copy is officially called a "consultation sheet". Before a consultation sheet can be issued, the handwritten ledger entry first has to be computerized by the staff at the registry office. If during this transcription stage the registry-office staff discover any strange anomaly in your marriage record, for example if part of your name is illegible, or if part of the record appears to have been tampered with, then before a consultation print-out can be issued, the local registry office close to where the marriage etc ceremony took place, cross-check against the identical original back-up ledger which is stored in Santo Domingo.
Once any potential uncertainty with the record has been cleared up, we then have a draft copy printed. We then scan the record and email it to you, to ask if it all looks correct. At this stage you may notice that some place- or people's names have been misspelled. If you alert us to a misspelling, we can attempt to have the record altered, however if the mistake lies in the original record ledger, changes are generally not permitted.
If you then wish to order a certificate from us, we then invoice you for the relevant Dominican birth, death, marriage, divorce or adoption certificate.
We then pay for your original certificate, and return later to pick it up.
Then we take your new original marriage certificate to be legalized at the Central Registry Office in Santo Domingo. To be legalized, your Dominican marriage certificate has a bar-coded sticker placed on the reverse of the certificate. You can check that the legalization is genuine by going to the webpage of the Dominican Electoral Board and entering in the bar-code number.
Most of our clients prefer that we take the legalized marriage certificate to the Dominican Foreign Ministry to obtain an apostille. See information on Wikipedia about apostilles. Basically, any Dominican official document with an apostille attached is considered legal and valid in most other countries of the world. (Canada, the Netherlands and a handful of other countries do not consider a Dominican apostille to be final proof that a Dominican marriage certificate is genuine, so for Canadians and Dutch citizens we must take your certificate to your embassy in Santo Domingo for them to apply the final seal to authenticate the document. This clearly comes with an added charge). Now your Dominican marriage certificate is ready to be dispatched to you
Mailing your Dominican certificates
What delivery options do you offer? We use several services:
- Dominican certified mail - Takes about 2 to 5 weeks to arrive.
- DHL - We generally use them for urgent deliveries to North America, Europe, and the rest of the world.