Civil registration in Hungary began in 1895 October 1. Anyone searching for vital records in Hungary before 1895 will have to rely on church records.
Hungarian Church Records
In the Catholic churches, the priests were required to keep records starting from 1636. Since they were required to keep records of all citizens regardless of their religious affiliation, among these Catholic records, you can search for your non-Catholic ancestors as well. In 1785, the Emperor Joseph the II, the “King with a hat”, gave permission to other Churches (such as the Serbian Orthodox or Protestants) as well to keep their own records.
In many places, the records begin only shortly after the Ottoman Turks were expelled from Hungary in 1686.
The records include, birth and christening registers, marriage registers, death and burial registers.
Church records are are stored in the archives of the various Hungarian counties under direction of the National Archives of Hungary (Országos Leveltár)in Budapest.
Most of the registers are indexed and available online at:
Hungarian Jewish Records
Beginning in 1788, Jews were required to keep records of births, marriages, and deaths in German under Catholic supervision. Despite this, for various reasons, most Jewish communities did not actually start keeping records until the practice was forced upon them by official mandate in 1840.
Smaller towns and villages did not have their own rabbi and register. Events in these places were registered in the nearby bigger town or village. You can read about the registration districts here (in Hungarian):
Frojimovics KingaMagyarországi zsidó anyakönyvek 1760-tól napjainkig : hazai levéltárak és irattárakBudapest : MTA Judaisztikai Kutatóközpont, 2007
The copies of these registers which were kept by the rabbis, you can find in the archives of various Hungarian counties, or you can search the microfilm versions in the Family Search libraries and, today, even in the Familysearch.org website. Most of the registers are also indexed in Jewishgen.
If you are researching your Jewish family, you can use the following links:
If you want the get a feeling of Hungary throughout the 20th century, check out this website:
Fortepan ( A private online photo collection)
1895 to 1950 and deaths from 1895 to 1980.
Hungarian is unrelated to most European languages and only remotely related to Finnish and Estonian. Hungarian was used along with Latin and German in the records of all areas of the old kingdom of Hungary before 1918. This includes present-day Hungary, Slovakia, southwestern Ukraine, western Romania, Serbia, Croatia and the easternmost part of Austria. To read Hungarian records in these languages, use the Latin Genealogical Word List and German Genealogical Word List. In addition, the Hungarian language may be found in the records of Hungarian communities in the United States, Canada, and other areas settled by Hungarians.