Genealogical research is subject to data protection regulations. The legal bases are provided by the Federal Act on Data Protection (SR 235.1) and the Ordinance on Civil Status (CivStO SR 211.112.2).
Access to data is mainly limited with regard to more recent civil status registers concerning families and individual citizens. Applicants may see their own personal data which includes first and family names, municipal and cantonal citizenship rights, data concerning ancestors and descendants, and current civil status data on the spouses (not former spouses however).
All information to be found in the oldest paper records may in principle be consulted without authorisation. Authorisation is required, however, from the competent supervisory authority for genealogical research in more recent registers.
When ordering extracts from the family register of the place of origin or the competent civil status office with regard to parents, grandparents as well as great-grandparents you must submit copies of your passport and any other documents testifying to your right to access this information. Address your inquiries to the competent authority which will inform you on the requirements for such access.
Federal Act on Data Protection (SR 235.1)
Ordinance on Civil Status (SR 211.112.2) (in German, French and Italian)