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Legal and regulatory frameworks

What are the components of good CRVS laws?

The legal framework for a civil registration system should contain all the requirements for civil registration in a country. The law should be comprehensive and cover core aspects such as:

  • The structural base of the civil registration system
  • Objectives of the system and definitions of core terms
  • Principle features of the civil registration system
  • The functions of establishing, operating and maintaining a national vital statistics system
  • Designation of duties and responsibilities with respect to notification, registration, recording, reporting, collection, compilation, analysis, evaluation, presentation and dissemination of data
  • for individuals
  • for civil registration
  • for vital statistics
  • Core functions and links with other agencies
  • Methods of operation
  • Protecting individual privacy rights
  • Finance and/or financial set-up
  • Any transitional arrangements.

Ideally, the law should map out the systems, establish their organisation and define the classes of vital events to be registered. It should also clarify the basic information to be gathered, and the registration requirements, as well as by whom, when and how the events are to be registered. The powers and resources of the agencies responsible for registration functions should be included, along with the mechanics of preparing the registration and statistical documents. Finally, quality controls need to be mentioned, along with processes for the subsequent compilation of data for statistical purposes. 

A good CRVS law provides the fundamental structure for the efficient administration of a country’s CRVS system. However, it is important that the law is not over-regulated or so detailed as to restrict administrative adjustment through regulations. Careful decisions are needed on how much freedom is given to system management to ensure the law can be kept up-to-date and effective.


Read more

Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative (2017). Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Legal and Regulatory Review: Tools and Methodology. Vital Strategies and Global Health Advocacy Incubator. 

International Statistics Program (2016). Training course on civil registration and vital statistics systems (Section 2: civil registration systems), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta. 

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2002). Handbook on training in civil registration and vital statistics systems. United Nations, New York. 

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Statistics Division (2014). Principles and Recommendations for a vital statistics system. United Nations, New York. 


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