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About CRVS systems

A civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) system is one that connects relevant data from the civil registry and the health information system for the purpose of producing vital statistics.

When countries maintain effective civil registration and vital statistics systems, everyone benefits.

Why do civil registration and vital statistics matter?

Universal registration of births, deaths (and their causes), marriages, and divorces, combined with issuing civil status certificates, ensures that individuals can prove their own identities to access basic public services – health, education, and social protection – and exercise their rights, including the right to vote or to claim inheritance.

When countries can generate and analyze real-time statistics, they can properly plan for and deliver priority development programs. Disaggregated by sex and other relevant characteristics, statistical data drawn from civil registers is especially important to meet the needs of vulnerable populations and monitor progress toward achieving health, gender equality, and other Sustainable Development Goals.

Two parents proudly show off their baby's birth certificate
Photo credit: UNICEF Ethiopia/Tadesse
Birth registration is a fundamental human right and an important tool for social protection. It is a gateway to registering other vital events throughout a person’s lifetime, and to securing adult identity documents.

Why should I care about CRVS?

If your birth is not registered, you don’t have a birth certificate. Without proof of age or identity, you risk being denied access to schooling, health care, employment, or the right to vote. You may not be able to open a bank account or take out a loan. If your child’s birth is not registered, it becomes difficult to protect them from child labour, sexual exploitation, and child marriage. Taken together, birth, marriage, and death registration are critical for you to exercise your right to inheritance when a parent or spouse dies.

Why should my government care?

Access to accurate, reliable, and timely statistical data disaggregated by sex and other relevant characteristics at the lowest administrative level is critical for government planning and policy-making. It is needed to measure progress over time to ensure that development programs are responding to the social, health, economic, and education needs of the populations they serve. Information from a well-functioning CRVS system can also help governments effectively respond to emergency and natural disaster events.

A peacekeeper from Nigeria registers a woman and two children so they can see a health professional
Photo credit: UNAMID/Albert González Farran
Accurate and reliable data from a well-functioning CRVS system can help governments effectively respond to the needs of vulnerable populations. This may include, for example, making healthcare services available to women and children displaced by violence or conflict, or affected by natural disasters.
  • What is civil registration?
    The United Nations defines civil registration as: “The continuous, permanent, compulsory, and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events (live births, deaths, fetal deaths, marriages, and divorces) and other civil status events pertaining to the population as provided by decree, law or regulation, in accordance with the legal requirements in each country.”
  • What are vital statistics?
    The United Nations defines vital statistics as: “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.”