Frequently Asked Questions


Search using both parents surnames
Sometimes the child’s parents will have different surnames. If you cannot find a birth using the father’s surname try searching with the mother’s surname in the Family Name field.

Why are there so many births where the child is unnamed?
There was a requirement to register a birth within 42 days. Often a child was not named until they were baptised. Once baptised the name could be recorded as long as it was provided to the Registrar within 7 days of the baptism.

How will I know if a birth was registered as a stillborn?
When you select to view a search result the letter ‘S’ will be displayed. A child who dies shortly after birth is not registered as a stillbirth.

Were stillborn babies given first names?
Many babies were not given first names, however for those cases the baby’s first name was generally recorded as “NR’ (“Not Recorded”).

When were stillbirths recorded?
Stillbirths were officially recorded from 1912, however there were some recorded earlier.

What constitutes a ‘stillbirth’?
Currently for a stillbirth to be registered the foetus must weigh 400 grams or more, or the gestation period must be 20 weeks or more.

Why does the word (Deceased) appear on a birth certificate?
If a death has been matched to a birth (Deceased) will print on a certificate. It does not show on a printout.


Why does NR appear in the Date of Birth/Age at Death column for deaths?
Age at death information has been collected since 1848, and date of birth information since 1972. ‘NR’ will show for records which we do not have this information for.

Why don’t all of the death results display the date of birth?
The date of birth for a death registration has only been collected since 1972. See Data Collected.

Why do I get recent deaths in my search results?
If the deceased person's date of birth was at least 80 years ago this record will be available as soon as the death is registered. The records available are updated nightly as the embargo period is reached.

How are War Deaths recorded in your database?
All World War 1 deaths are registered with a reference year of 1918 and all World War 2 deaths are registered with a reference year of 1945.


When were the parents details for the bride and groom collected? 
Since 1881, or in some instances late 1880.

When I search for a pre 1875 marriage why is the spouse’s name not always returned?
As part of the process of scanning the registers it was not a requirement to capture the information as one record. Therefore we have separate records for both the bride and the groom. All but 98 marriage records have been amalgamated.

Why do you suggest we put the names for marriage searches in both the brides and grooms fields?
When the records were scanned some details were entered into the opposite type fields e.g. the groom’s names into the bride fields. Searching by both types may help locate the record you are looking for. Most marriage records have now been matched correctly as per bride and groom.

Civil Union

Why can’t I search for Civil Union information?
As Civil Unions only became possible from April 2005 information is not 80 years or older so cannot be made available online.


How can I get beyond the Proceed to Payment on the Order confirmation page of the website?
The problem may be due to the browser you are using, e.g. If you are using IE10 try the following:

  1. Press F12
  2. Select IE10 Compatibility mode from the toolbar this is displayed
  3. Press F12 to make the toolbar disappear

This will put IE10 into a mode that is backward compatible. This means it will work with websites that werewrittenforearlierversions of Internet Explorer.

Why is the printout I ordered typed?
Printouts of  records will be typed for any of  the following reasons:

  • It contains information that, due to historic legislation, we are not able to release
  • The image was of  poor quality and would not scan
  • Information on the record has been amended since the scanning process occurred
  • The event occurred after 1 January 1998

Whether a typed printout or handwritten image of the record is issued depends on the record – it is not an option.

How old do records need to be before they can be made available online?
The Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Amendment Act 1995 allows the Register-General to make historical information available. Historical records are defined as:

  1. Births that occurred at least 100 years ago
  2. Stillbirths that occurred at least 50 years ago
  3. Marriages that occurred at least 80 years ago
  4. Deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago or the deceased's date of birth was at least 80 years ago.

The records available are added to daily.

What is the minimum information required to complete a search?
To search on this website the minimum information required is a Surname and Date from. If you return too many results you can add more information or search on a range of years to refine your search.

Why do you recommend searching on a range of dates?
The 500 record limited can easily be reached for common surnames e.g. Smith or Jones.
By limiting your searching to a range of years or including a given name you are more likely to achieve a successful result.

If registrations didn’t commence until 1848 why do search results have earlier records?
Official registrations started in 1848 for births and deaths and 1854 for marriages. However as BDM have earlier records, such as church and place registers some dating back to 1840, these records have been included as well. Some early registrations have the same registration year, e.g marriages from 1840 – 1854 may show with a registration year of 1840.

Why do I get other names back on the searches I asked for?
The search results include, where recorded, current surnames, changes of surnames and birth surnames for an individual. Also it is possible that some of our data isn’t as accurate as you expect, as we have always accepted registration information as it has been provided to us. If you are having issues locating a record, we suggest searching shortened names such as below:

  • Thomas might be Thom or Thos.
  • George might be Geo.
  • William might be Wm.

Why do reference numbers appear in some search results?
Comments only exist on records where we do not have sufficient information to fully update them.

Can I sort my search results?
Yes, click on the heading you would like to sort and the searches will be resorted into alphabetical order or into ascending order for the registration number.

How do I get to another page of my search results?
If more than 1 page of search results is returned you can click on the page numbers shown at the top or bottom of the page to go directly to that page. The page you are on is indicated by the absence of a line under the number e.g. 2 not 2 You can click on Prev to go back one page or Next to go forward one page

Can I print the search results
Yes, you can either print the page that is displayed on your screen by clicking on Printer Friendly page (current) or you can print all your search results by clicking on Printer Friendly page (all). The date you printed the results will be shown at the bottom left of your list.

Why do you recommend I order a printout rather than a certificate?
There will always be more information on a printout than we can include on a certificate. So, unless you need a certificate for legal purposes, you will have more information to assist you with further research if you order a printout. The information collected prior to 1875 is very minimal.

What information will the ordered certificate or printout contain?
A printout, up to 1998, will generally be a scanned image of the record so will contain all the information that was provided at the time the event was registered. A certificate has less information and is generally used for legal purposes. See Data Collected.

What is the difference between the folio numbers on the fiche and the registration numbers on the website?
The registration number is a unique number allocated to each record when our registers were scanned. Folio numbers were given to each page of a register. This can result in multiple records having the same folio for each year depending on how many records there were on each page.

Can I still access microfiche indexes in libraries?
Yes, however since 25 January 2009 the microfiche indexes are no longer available for purchase.

Why do I sometimes get a different registration number sent back to me to the registration number I order?
Records in our database are in different formats. Occasionally when a record requires changing, a new registration number is allocated. This usually happens for records registered prior to 1875.

How long will it take to get my order?
It will take up to eight working days to issue your order. You must also allow time for postage.

Can you email me the record I want?
Yes, if you provide your email address in your delivery details we will email your printouts to you, instead of sending them by mail. The processing time remains the same. Certificates will continue to be sent by mail.

How can I tell you about a spelling error with a name shown in my search results?
Email us through our Contact Us page.

Provide the following:

  • registration number
  • name of the person(s)
  • correct name(s)

What do I do if some of the information on my certificate or printout is incorrect?
We will need to determine if the error is ours or if the error is with the registered information we have been given at the time the event was registered. Contact Us for more information

How can I order the products I want if I don’t have a credit card?
You can use the website to find the record you want and then post your application to us. The minimum information to provide (with payment) by post, is the type of product you want, the person’s name and the year and the place of event or the registration number you have identified from your searching.  Contact Us for more information

Can I find out what data was collected recently?
Yes, by checking the Data Collected link on the Non-Historic records area of this website

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Photograph of a group of children.