The 1939 National Identity Card Database

Census Substitute

Those of us researching in England, Wales or Scotland will be interested in the recent release of the 1939 National Identity Card Database.

The 1939 National Identity Card Survey was undertaken at the outbreak of the Second World War and took place on National Registration Day Friday September 29th, 1939.  The details collected for each person included:

  • sex
  • date of birth
  • marital status
  • occupation
  • whether member of armed forces or reserves

The 1939 Identity Card database formed the basis of the NHS Central Register when the NHS was set up in 1948.  The data remained secret until challenges to the Freedom of Information Act at the end of 2009 and early into 2010.  It has now been announced the release of data for individuals who have died and are recorded as deceased.

Where to find it

The records can be accessed at the following links:

The 1939 National Identity Card database can complement genealogy research using the 1911 Census, most of which will be released up to and including 2012.  The 1921 Census is due to be released 2022.  The 1931 Census was lost in a fire in 1942.  There were no census in 1941 due to the second world war.


Early British Census – 1086 to 1841

Examples of Listings in the British Isles