European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 29, Issue 8, pp 541–549 | Cite as

The Danish Civil Registration System as a tool in epidemiology

  • Morten SchmidtEmail author
  • Lars Pedersen
  • Henrik Toft Sørensen


The methodological advances in epidemiology have facilitated the use of the Danish Civil Registration System (CRS) in ways not previously described systematically. We reviewed the CRS and its use as a research tool in epidemiology. We obtained information from the Danish Law on Civil Registration and the Central Office of Civil Registration, and used existing literature to provide illustrative examples of its use. The CRS is an administrative register established on April 2, 1968. It contains individual-level information on all persons residing in Denmark (and Greenland as of May 1, 1972). By January 2014, the CRS had cumulatively registered 9.5 million individuals and more than 400 million person-years of follow-up. A unique ten-digit Civil Personal Register number assigned to all persons in the CRS allows for technically easy, cost-effective, and unambiguous individual-level record linkage of Danish registers. Daily updated information on migration and vital status allows for nationwide cohort studies with virtually complete long-term follow-up on emigration and death. The CRS facilitates sampling of general population comparison cohorts, controls in case–control studies, family cohorts, and target groups in population surveys. The data in the CRS are virtually complete, have high accuracy, and can be retrieved for research purposes while protecting the anonymity of Danish residents. In conclusion, the CRS is a key tool for epidemiological research in Denmark.


Database Registers Epidemiology Epidemiological methods Data linkage Follow-up 



The Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Aarhus University Hospital, receives funding for other studies from companies in the form of research grants to (and administered by) Aarhus University. None of the company-funded studies have any relation to the present study. The study was supported by Aarhus University Research Foundation.

Ethical standard

As the research reported in this paper did not involve any contact with patients or any intervention, it was not necessary to obtain permission from the Danish Scientific Ethics Committee.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morten Schmidt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lars Pedersen
    • 1
  • Henrik Toft Sørensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical EpidemiologyAarhus University HospitalAarhus NDenmark

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