Researching Vital Statistics in Australia

So it has been a while since I said I would put up some information on how to do research into a family tree, so it is time to put some more information up.

Once you have talked to your immediate family the next thing to do is to start researching vital records. Vital records are birth, death and marriage records. In earlier years it is baptism, marriage and burial records as births and deaths may not be recorded.

In Australia, most birth, death and marriage records are kept at the state or territory level. For Canberra the majority of available birth death and marriage registrations for historical searches are through the NSW registry not the ACT registry as Canberra is not very old. But some are available in Canberra.

Birth death and marriage records are only available for a certain number of years. Births usually need to be over 100 years ago, marriages over 50 years ago and deaths over 30 years ago. So sometimes you can only get some of the certificates that you require.

Details for where to search for certificates for each state are in the links.

All the registry indexes can be searched at these repositories but not all certificates can be bought at each one. Queensland and Victoria are the easiest to access, their entire certificates are available on line so once you have found the entry that you require you can just purchase a digital copy online and get your certificate straight away.

NSW is difficult. To get a full certificate is expensive but can be done online but to do so is very costly for a family historian who may need a number of different certificates. So the best thing to do is to use one of the transcribing services. For about half the price of a full certificate these services will transcribe all the details for the certificate you are after into a document and email it to you. This will take a couple of weeks. But it is a much cheaper option than paying for a full certificate. These places also have other services such as check and verify that this is the correct certificate, this can be done so that you don’t have to pay full price for a certificate that you are uncertain about.

The transcription services available in NSW include;

Other services have details on how to use them and what you need to do to get certificates on their pages. Some need you to pay for a search and some allow you to search and then send in for the certificate.

Follow the directions on the search putting in minimal details at first and if you get too many answers, like for the name ‘Smith’ try to narrow down by adding in additional search criteria as it can be more difficult than you think to find the correct family member as the databases are only as good as those doing the transcriptions to the database. S and F’s are often confused and spellings both change over time and in a time when many were not able to spell names can have a large variety of spellings. So my Russell ancestors can often be spelled as Russell, Russel, Rusell, Rusfell, Ruffell, Ruffel etc. So if I can’t find the person I am looking for I try variations to see what other options I can come up with.

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