TN 26 (11-99)

GN 00307.950 Records From the Former Republics of Yugoslavia

A. Background

1. General

In the late 1940s, the Yugoslavian Government passed laws for the centralization of recordkeeping in the civil authorities. Religious institutions were required to send their records (or copies) to the civil authorities where they were copied. These religious records and the civil records which survived WW II were the basis for the civil recordkeeping system.

Where there were no civil or religious records, the law permitted the establishment of records based on other evidence, including the testimony of third parties. In many cases, however, records were not established until the individual needed a record.

Generally, these records and recordkeeping practices were retained by the former Yugoslavian republics (i.e., Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia-Montenegro and Slovenia) after they proclaimed their independence.

In March 1999, the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade closed. The Embassy handled claims-related matters for individuals and contacts in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia-Montenegro and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. Thus, the Embassy can no longer help SSA obtain certifications of vital statistics records from these areas or verify questionable documents from sources in these areas. Matters are further complicated because prior to March 1999, the Embassy was denied access to some records in these areas and there was evidence of the issuance of false certifications.

2. Certifications of Civil Records

Two forms are used by the authorities to issue certifications. One is a multi-lingual form, similar to that used in western Europe, designed to be sent abroad. The other is designed primarily for internal use and is often submitted in claims.

Neither form contains a space for the recordation date; however, the second form contains a “Supplementary Registrations and Remarks” section at the bottom in which reconstructed records are supposed to be identified.

B. Policy

1. General

Civil records (except those from Macedonia, Montenegro and the Kosovo region of Serbia) are generally the best evidence of age for persons born in one of the former republics of Yugoslavia.

SSA assumes that civil and religious records issued before 1941 are reliable and accepts them at face value.

SSA does not assume all civil records were established at least by 1949.

2. Recordation Dates on Civil Records

a. General

SSA assumes the year of the register from which the information was taken is the year in which the event was recordedunless:

  • There is an indication the record is a delayed registration; or

  • The document was issued in a republic other than the one in which the event occurred.

    EXCEPTION: SSA does not make any assumptions about the recordation date on records issued after 1940 for events prior to 1949 from the former republics of Macedonia and Montenegro (see GN 00307.956 and GN 00307.958 for information on handling records from these areas).

b. Multi-Lingual Certification Form

SSA assumes the last two digits of the entry number (shown in the upper-right corner with the name of the town/village/city maintaining the records) refer to the year of the register from which the information was taken.

3. Religious Records

Church records of birth and baptism (including those from Macedonia and Montenegro) are of high probative value and can be requested when the civil record was based on other evidence.

Religious records, except as shown in items GN 00307.105A.2.d. and GN 00307.105A.2.e., must show a recordation date.

EXCEPTION: Religious records issued in the Kosovo region of Serbia after 1989 are evaluated as records made at the time of issuance based on the statement(s) of the interested party(ies) or third parties at the time the document was issued.

NOTE: Religious certifications are acceptable for Social Security purposes even though they have no legal value in the former Yugoslavian republic.

C. Procedure

Ask the claimant where in the former Yugoslavia he/she was born and take action as follows:

1. Claimant Born in Bosnia or Herzegovina

Develop as explained in GN 00307.954.