Is the "government=register_office" tag being used correctly?

I have recently discovered that this tag has a very wide and varied use, contrary to the wiki description.
This is likely due to its plain and generic name, and you will find that it has many uses outside of the UK and Commonwealth. (Most notably for the registration of movable property, real estate, and rights, which seems to be primarily court-related.) - Plz See
I believe that the existence of a separate tag that is specific to a particular region is likely to cause confusion and is not desirable. (This means that it is preferable to exist as an ancillary tag or subtag.)
I’m hoping that people who live in the UK and Commonwealth, or who are familiar with the situation, will be able to discuss and sort it out, and ultimately I think it should be retired, reworded, or updated to match what people are using.
I don’t know the situation in the UK or the Commonwealth, so please don’t ask me, I’d rather you discuss it.

Additionally, I also wonder if Singapore’s unique marriage procedures have anything to do with this. - A licensed solemniser will officiate the ceremony and verify all legal documents, ensure that both parties consent to the marriage, and facilitate the signing of the Certificate of Marriage.

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I tend to agree that the definition of this tag is problematic because its name is very broad but its use is very specific.

According to Tag:government=transportation - OpenStreetMap Wiki, this is the tag “… used to map a government office dealing with some aspect of transportation, for example, vehicle or driver licencing or testing.” US State Departments of Motor Vehicles (“DMVs”; Department of motor vehicles - Wikipedia) and the UK DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency - Wikipedia) are specified as examples of where the office=government, government=transportation tagging would be appropriate, but… the DVSA does not do driver’s licencing and testing; that’s the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency - Wikipedia). I don’t really understand what the DVSA does in the first place.

Where I’m from (Alberta, Canada) the closest analogue we have are registries (or registry agents), which are privately-owned and operated offices that handle all registration services. Not just birth/deaths/marriages as specified in the wiki description of this tag, but vehicle registrations (including licence plates), driver’s licences and testing, land titles (including mortgages, caveats and mineral rights), corporate registrations, personal property, government health insurance, and even our organ donor and cadaver donor registries. Based on the wiki, I’m not sure what tagging would be appropriate for our registry agents. They do both of the things that government=register_office and government=transportation are nominally for. And as I said they’re privately-owned and operated offices; is “office=government” even appropriate in the first place…?

EDIT: Furthermore, when looking at overpass turbo across North America, government=register_office seems to be used for all sorts of things such as County court offices, registrars of (land) deeds, property tax assessors’ offices, voter registration offices… government=transportation likewise is used for the offices of state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), which are the government bodies that manage the building and maintenance of (mostly) roads.

These tags seem to be crying for a less UK-centric definition.

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This is incorrect (at least partly so).

DVSA - driving tests (e.g. the “standards” part of the initialism)
DVLA - licencing (e.g. the “licencing” part of the initialism).

Should they be the same body? Who knows! Probably… but well off topic! :joy:

I guess this makes your contribution more important. The tag works for those of us in the UK. If there’s an issue with its global usage, then input from the global community is very important.

My two cents, this is just a British English term for a global concept. Wikipedia says:

Equivalents outside the UK

Main article: Civil registration

There is no direct equivalent in the USA, but the bureaus of vital statistics perform some similar tasks. In Italy the function is fulfilled by the Ufficio di Stato Civile and in Germany by the Standesamt.

In the Civil registration page, there’s a whole list of equivalents in other countries from different continents.

The Spanish, German, and French wiki translations directly refer to Registro Civil, Standesamt, and Bureau d’enregistrement d’état civil. So those translators all shared the understanding that this tag relates specifically to a registry of births, marriages, and deaths (known as a Civil Registry or similar in many countries and several European languages).

So does that mean that other uses (e.g. property registries) should be considered tagging errors? Or have they overtaken the original meaning and we now need to add a subtag such as register_office=civil_registry?

The French wiki (FR:Tag:government=register_office - OpenStreetMap Wiki) also says that this tag shouldn’t be used in France because matters pertaining to their civil registry are generally already done at town halls, not at separate offices. :smile:


I obviously find the whole thing quite confusing because, again, where I live these services are performed by a single entity.

I think the overarching issue is that the tag’s use is very specifically for an office that exclusively deals with births/marriages/deaths registers. The concept of a “civil register” is commonplace around the world, but in many countries (most countries?) we don’t have public-facing government offices whose sole purpose is to manage these registers.

I think the purpose of the tag ought to be broadened to incorporate any office that manages a government register. It seems to me that’s already its de facto use.