The national directory for the identification of natural persons (RNIPP), maintained by INSEE since 1946, is the model for public service registers. It is regularly updated through statistical bulletins on civil status changes, drawn up and sent to INSEE by municipalities and containing details of births, deaths, recognitions and marginal notes made in birth certificates for persons born in metropolitan France or the overseas departments (DOM).
This register only includes information on the civil status of citizens: family name sometimes the usual name (or marital name), given names, gender, date and place of birth, date and place of death for the recently deceased, number of birth certificate (and death certificate) as well as the national registration number (NIR).
The recording of civil status data has three purposes:
- updating the registers: the RNIPP and the National System of Management of the Identities managed by the CNAV and which is an image of the RNIPP and on which is leaned all the directories of the social sphere. The contents of the RNIPP, and the fact that it is so regularly updated, make it an essential instrument for the French public authorities, serving notably to remove any confusion arising from people sharing the same name. It is also used by the tax authorities and pension funds to verify the civil status of individuals.
- contributing to health monitoring: since the heatwave of 2003, and with the agreement of the National Committee on Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL), INSEE sends daily information on deaths to the Institute for Health Monitoring (InVS).
- generating demographic statistics which are a tool to assist the decision-making process.
Possession of this register is controlled by various legal texts (law, decree, declaration of the CNIL). Thus, since Law No. 78-17 of January 6th 1978 concerning information technology, files and civil liberties, use of the RNIPP must be approved by decree of the Council of State, acting on advice from the CNIL. Decree 82-103 of January 22nd 1982 set the conditions for supply and use of the RNIPP, and order 96-345 of April 24th 1996 established the RNIAM.