When it comes to searching for information on individuals, the best method (although at times most expensive) is through the use of the Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) Registry Offices that are located in each state. Their documents/indexes not only provide information about the individual in question but can also give you new clues as to where they came from or who their parents were.
Below is a list of the BDM websites for each state.
One of my most used links (see Holy Grail links) the Western Australian BDM website has a free online historical search index available for searching births (1841-1932), deaths (1841-1971) and marriages (1841-1936). Once an individual is found, uncertified copies of the record for births older than 100 years, marriages older than 75 years and deaths prior to 1983 can be purchased for the reduced cost of $20. A wonderful new initiative from WABDM! For certificates not fitting this criteria but are older than 75 years, a certified copy can be purchased for the reduced fee of $35. If the certificate is less than 75 years old the cost is $48.
- Be sure to correctly calculate the age of the certificate you’re after. Selecting the wrong box on the form may result in delayed processing.
- WABDM’s search index makes ordering a certificate easy. Once you’ve found the certificate you’re after simply click ‘order’ to the right of the record. This brings up the application form with the details of the certificate prepopulated.
- Be aware that identification may be required for newer certificates.
The Victorian BDM registry has a free online historical index available to search for births (1853-1915), deaths (1853-1988), marriages (1853-1942) and church baptisms, burials and marriages (1836-1853). Once an individual is found, an historical birth image (scanned image of the original record) can be purchased online for $24.60. Instant gratification! Alternatively, an historical birth certificate (a certified copy) can be purchased for $31.80.
New South Wales
The BDM registry for New South Wales has a free online search index for births (1788-1916), deaths (1788-1986) and marriages (1788-1966). After you’ve conducted a search and you have a registration number for a particular entry, certificates can be purchased online at a cost of $32. Alternatively, if you are having trouble locating a record, you can ask the registry to search for you at a cost of $45.
Australian Capital Territory
The Australian Capital Territory BDM website (Access Canberra) provides general information on their website relating to birth, death and marriage applications. They do not have an online historic index however a person may apply for a search of the register. Certificates can be purchased for $45 (over the counter) or $53 (via Australia Post). Prior to 1930, all ACT records were registered in New South Wales. These records can be accessed via the online New South Wales indexes (see previous heading and link).
The South Australian BDM website provides general information on applying for birth, death or marriage certificates (which can be submitted online) but does not have an online search index. Alternatively, you can try searching the databases that are on the Family History of South Australia website (http://www.familyhistorysa.info/) or Genealogy SA (http://www.genealogysa.org.au/). Genealogy SA has an online database for historic births (1842-1928), deaths (1842-1972 [transcriptions to 1967]) and marriages (1842-1937). Once a record is found, clicking on the link “Find out more…” subsequently takes you to a page listing certain details found on the transcribed certificate. Members (joining costs $90 plus a $22 joining fee) can view all these details at no cost. Non-members however can submit a research request for a transcription of the certificate at a cost of $22. A very handy service!
The BDM website for Northern Territory does not have an online search index. General information on births, deaths and marriages is provided along with the ability to submit an online application. A standard certificate costs $44 with an additional $12.30 required for postage within Australia. Most requests should be processed within three working days. The cost to search the register (with no certificate issued) is $39.
Queensland has free online indexes for births (1825-1916), deaths (1825-1979) and marriages (1829-1941). Copies of certificates can be ordered by either downloading and completing the relevant application form or by completing the online application. Historical certificates which have been certified will cost $29 while an online historical image costs $20.70 and is only available via online ordering.
Tasmania does not have online BDM indexes available for searching and their website only provides general information on births, deaths and marriages. Certificates can be purchased by completing the relevant application form and paying a cost of $47.43 plus postage costs (if required). There is however have a Colonial Tasmanian Family Links Database which is quite useful and provides various searchable indexes on early Tasmanians up to 1899. Please visit the site: http://portal.archives.tas.gov.au/menu.aspx?search=8.
Note: If you are frustrated by not being able to find information online and do not want to continually pay for certificates, I would strongly recommend visiting your state library. As part of their collection, most major libraries in Australia should have copies of each state’s historical indexes on CD.
Best of luck and happy searching!