Confusing Terms: certificación; certificado; partida

Confusing Terms2

These three terms are all commonly used in Spain to denote “certificates” issued by the Registro Civil (“Civil Register,” “Bureau of Vital Statistics,” etc.). Thus, for example, a “birth certificate” may be variously referred to as a certificación de nacimiento, certificado de nacimiento and partida de nacimiento.

The term actually used in the Reglamento de la Ley del Registro Civil is certificación and, for example, a birth certificate is entitled “Certificación de Inscripción de Nacimiento.” Nevertheless, this and other certificates (de matrimonio, de defunción) are also called certificados in many official documents and on Spanish government websites.

Likewise, the expressions partida de nacimiento (or de matrimonio, de defunción) are widely used, albeit unofficially, to designate respectively a “birth certificate,” “marriage certificate” and “death certificate.” In that regard, partida originally denoted the entry on a church’s parish register of major life events (births, marriages and deaths) and, by extension, is often used informally to refer to data recorded on the Registro Civil. This is evident in the DLE’s definition of partida: registro o asiento de bautismo, confirmación, matrimonio o entierro, que se escribe en los libros de las parroquias o del registro civil.

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