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
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.