• 1939 Register

    The National Registration Act 1939 established a National Register which began on 29th September 1939. The data collected was used to produce up-to-date population statistics and identification cards as well as helping to administer conscription. The following year, when rationing was introduced, the register was used for the issuing of ration books and at a later date, after the war, it helped in the creation of the National Health Service.

    The Register is an important set of records for genealogists. In the absence of the 1931 and 1941 census, and having to wait until 2022 until the release of the 1921 census, the 1939 Register bridges the gap and provides valuable information to family historians.

    The following information is included in the Register:
    • Address
    • Schedule number
    • Sub number
    • Surname
    • First name
    • OVSPI (for institutions only: Officer, Visitor, Servant, Patient, Inmate),
    • Sex
    • Date of birth
    • Marital status
    • Occupation

    Like the census, people were recorded at the address where they were on 29th September, even if it was not their normal abode.

    The Register contains details of the civilian population of England & Wales. It does not include data from the Isle of Man, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Channel Islands. The Register did not record details of anyone in the armed forces, therefore British Army barracks, Royal Navy Stations and Royal Air Force stations are not recorded. However, members of the armed forces who were on leave on the day the register was taken are included, as well as civilians on military bases.

    The Register has been digitised and was made available on Findmypast in November 2015, initially on a pay per view basis. As from February 2016 access to the register was incorporated into annual subscriptions, although for anyone who does not subscribe it is still possible to purchase credits (60 credits are required to view one household).

    As the register was maintained until 1991 name changes, for example following marriage, and deaths were recorded on the original documents. Individuals’ records are closed for 100 years from their date of birth unless proof of death is verified.

    The Register can be searched using various criteria, e.g. name, address, date of birth, occupation, urban district, etc. When searching for someone who may have married after 1939 it is worth searching on both married and maiden name.

    Example of household preview:

    Attachment 17920

    Example of unlocked household transcript:

    Attachment 17918

    Example of 1939 Register

    Attachment 17919

    (source: www.findmypast.co.uk)

    When viewing the household transcription, a "make a request" icon is available (bottom right of transcript box). This can be used for:

    • request FMP to open a closed record, which will be done free of charge and requires the submission of a copy of the death certificate (only available to FMP subscribers)
    • request TNA to open a closed record, which costs £25 and requires the submission of a copy of the death certificate.
    • request information on living people, for example a search of closed records where the data subject is living
    • request to close an open record, for example if the person is still alive
    • to report an error, e.g. record mistranscribed


    Information relating to individuals living in Scotland at the time of the 1939 register is available from the National Records of Scotland

    Information relating to individuals living in Northern Ireland at the time of the 1939 Register is available from the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

    See also:


    Useful links:




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