I have recently discovered that this tag has a very wide and varied use, contrary to the wiki description. https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:government%3Dregister_office
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.
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.
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?
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.