Australia is a country of immigrants and their descendants. Beginning with the establishment of New South Wales as a penal colony in 1788, convicts were sent to Australia from the British Isles. Assisted immigrants (immigrants who had most of their passage paid by the government), coming primarily from the British Isles and Germany, first began arriving in New South Wales in 1828, while unassisted immigrants first arrived in Australia as early as 1792.
Prior to 1901, each state of Australia was a separate government or colony. Vital records in a particular state typically begin at the time of the colony's formation, with earlier records (except for Western Australia) found in New South Wales (the original jurisdictional body for Australia).
New South Wales
The New South Wales Registry has civil records from March 1, 1856. Earlier church and other vital records, dating back to 1788, are also available, including a Pioneer Index 1788-1888.
Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
191 Thomas Street
PO Box 30 G.P.O.
Sydney, New South Wales 2001
(011) (61) (2) 228-8511
Online: NSW Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages offers an online, searchable Historical Index of Births, Marriages, and Deaths which covers births (1788-1908), deaths (1788-1978) and marriages (1788-1958).
Birth records from August 24, 1870, marriages records from 1871, and death records from 1872 can be ordered from the Office of the Registrar. You can contact them at:
Office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
Department of Law
G.P.O. Box 3021
Darwin, Northern Territory 0801
(011) (61) (89) 6119
Records from 1890 to the present can be obtained through the Queensland Office of the Registrar General. Birth records for the past 100 years, marriage records for the past 75 years, and death records for the past 30 years are restricted. Check the Web site for current fees and access restrictions.
Queensland Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
Old Treasury Building
PO Box 188
Brisbane, North Quay
(011) (61) (7) 224-6222
Online: A free online Queensland BMD historical index search tool allows you to search Queensland birth indexes from 1829-1914, deaths from 1829-1983, and marriages from 1839-1938. If you find an entry of interest, you can download (for a fee) an image of the original register if it is available. Many of the more recent records are still available only in certificate (non-image) form. You can order printed copies to be sent to you via mail/post.
Records from July 1, 1842, are available from the Registrar of South Australia.
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Office
Department of Public and Consumer Affairs
PO Box 1351
Adelaide, South Australia 5001
(011) (61) (8) 226-8561
Online: Family History South Australia includes a wealth of databases and articles to assist people researching their South Australian family history, including indexes to Early South Australian Marriages (1836-1855) and Gazetted Deaths (sudden deaths) (1845-1941).
The Registrar's office has church registers from 1803 to 1838, and civil records from 1839 to the present. Access to birth and marriage records is restricted for 75 years, and death records for 25 years.
Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages
15 Murray Street
G.P.O. Box 198
Hobart, Tasmania 7001
(011) (61) (2) 30-3793
Online: The Tasmanian State Archives has several online vital records indexes, including indexes to Tasmanian divorces and convict applications for permission to marry. They also include an online Colonial Tasmanian Family Links Database (an index to records of all births, deaths, and marriages for the period 1803-1899 which were created by the Tasmanian Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages).
Birth certificates (1853-1924), death certificates (1853-1985) and marriage certificates (1853-1942) are available from the Registry, as well as records of church baptisms, marriages, and burials 1836 to 1853. More recent certificates are available with restricted access.
Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages
GPO Box 4332
Melbourne, Victoria, 3001, Australia
Online: Victoria Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages offers, for a fee, an online index and digitized record copies of Victoria Births, Marriages and Deaths for the above mentioned years. Digitized, uncertified images of the original register records can be downloaded immediately to your computer upon payment.
Compulsory registration of births, deaths, and marriages started in Western Australia in September 1841. Access to more recent records (births < 75 years, deaths < 25 years, and marriages < 60 years) is restricted to the named individual and/or next of kin.
Western Australia Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages
PO Box 7720
Perth, WA 6850
Online: The Western Australia Pioneers Index is accessible online for free searching of consolidated birth, death and marriage indexes for the years between 1841 and 1965.
Additional Online Sources for Australian Vital Records
The FamilySearch Record Search Web site hosts free searchable indexes of Australian Births and Baptisms (1792-1981), Deaths and Burials (1816-1980) and Marriages (1810-1980). These scattered records do NOT cover the entire country. Only a few localities are included and the time period varies by locality.
Search for and locate vital records from across Australia that have been submitted by fellow genealogists at the Australasia Births, Deaths and Marriage Exchange. There are only 36,000+ records from Australia and 44,000+ from New Zealand, but you might just get lucky!
The Ryerson Index includes more than 2.4 million death notices, funeral notices, and obituaries from 169 current Australian newspapers. While the index covers the entire country, the biggest focus is on NSW papers, including more than 1 million notices from the Sydney Morning Herald.