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Family history help guide

Getting started: How to search

Search tips

How to download images

Problems downloading images

Printing and troubleshooting tips

FAQs

Step 1.

Choose the index you want to search by selecting  'Historical' or 'Events at sea only'.

What's in the Historical index?

What’s in the Events at sea index?

Step 2.

Enter your search criteria. To get the best results from your search, we recommend you use the following

information:

Birth and baptism records

  • Family name
  • One given name
  • A five‐year range for the ‘Event timeframe’

e.g. 1888 – 1892 for a birth in 1890

Marriage records

  • EITHER:
    • Bride’s family name
    • Bride’s given name
  • OR:
    • Groom’s family name
    • Groom’s given name
  • A five‐year range for the ‘Event timeframe’

e.g. 1918 – 1922 for a marriage in 1920

Death and burial records

  • Family name
  • One given name
  • A five‐year range for the ‘Event timeframe’

e.g. 1978 – 1982 for a death in 1980

What is the difference between 'registration year' and 'year of event'?

Step 3.

Select 'Search' to go to a list of results.

  • Each page displays up to 20 results.
  • If you get too many matching results, select ‘Refine Search’ and add to your search criteria.
  • If you get the message ‘No results were found’ select 'Refine Search' and remove one of your search criteria (remove the registration number if you have entered one).

Step 4.

  • Click on an index entry to view a summary of the information available for that record. To go back to your results page, click ‘Back’.
  • To buy an uncertified historical certificate or a scanned image of the registration record click ‘Add to cart’. The product you have selected will then appear in your shopping cart.
  • Click ‘Back’ to continue searching or ‘Checkout’ to proceed to payment.

Tip 1.

If you cannot find the entry you want, try entering less information or different combinations of information.

Tip 2.

If you cannot find the entry you want, try a different spelling or an abbreviation of a name, e.g. Wm instead of William. Or use an asterisk ( * ) after a letter to search for all words beginning with that letter, e.g. M* or Mar*. Do not enter an initial without an asterisk.

Tip 3.

Searching by the ‘Place of event’ can be a difficult as the place of event in the index is often abbreviated. It is generally better to leave the place of event field blank.

Tip 4.

The historical index does not contain all of the records that are available to the public. A record may be outside of the access restriction period and still not appear in the online index. To access these records you will need to apply for a certificate and we will search our databases on your behalf. For more information go to 'What index entries can I access online?'

How to download images

Step 1.

To download your image, either:

  • Click the ‘Download’ link once your payment is confirmed to download the image immediately.
  • Click the link in your confirmation email.
  • Click the ‘Download your image’ page  within the ‘Family history’ section.

Note. You must download images within 30 days of purchase.

Step 2.

Enter your ICRN in the required field and click the button marked 'Continue'. The page will reload.

Step 3.

Select the 'Download' button next to the description of the image you want to download. The description will include the type of event (such as a death or birth), the person's name and the year of event.

Note. If you purchase more than one image in a single transaction, you will need to download each image individually.

Step 4.

All images open in PDF format. You may need Adobe® Acrobat® Reader or Open Office to view the document(s) on this page. Get Adobe® Acrobat® Reader  Get Open Office.

Step 5.

Once you have downloaded the image, you can print it or save it to your computer for later use.

Problems downloading images

If you experience problems downloading your image, you may wish to try one of the following:

Hint 1.

Your PDF‐reader software (such as Adobe® Acrobat® Reader) may be too old to open the image. Try

installing a more recent version of the software and downloading the image again.

Hint 2.

Firewalls and high security levels on your computer can prevent you from downloading the image. Check and adjust your browser settings and try downloading the image again.

Hint 3.

Use another computer to download the image such as a  family or friend's computer or laptop, or a computer at a public library. Download the image and then print it, or save it to a portable device.

Hint 4.

Forward the receipt email to a friend or family member our website address and your Image Collection  Number (ICN) and ask them to download the image for you.

Printing and troubleshooting tips

Each image is a scan of the original, often handwritten, register. Register entries are often handwritten. Over time, some registers have faded or been damaged and may not be easy to read. We have made every effort to capture the best possible image of each register.

Some older images are A3 size, which is twice the size of normal paper. We recommend you print these images on A3 paper if possible.

If you can only print the image on A4 paper try the following tips.

Tip 1.

Open the Printer Properties and select "Shrink to fit page" or equivalent

Tip 2.

Select "Landscape" format for images of:

  • marriages before 1936
  • deaths before 1932
  • country deaths between 1932 and 1938.

Tip 3.

Select "Portrait" format for images of:

  • marriages after 1936
  • deaths after 1938
  • metropolitan deaths between 1932 and 1938.

Please contact us if you have further questions or problems downloading or printing your image.

FAQs

What is the difference between an index entry and a registration record?

An index entry is a summary of information from the full registration record. The information in an entry varies depending on the year the event was registered and the type of event (e.g. birth, marriage or death). However, all entries include the:

  • name of the person or people to whom the record relates
  • type of record (such as a birth, marriage or death)
  • registration number
  • registration year.

Once you have located the entry you want, you can get the full registration record of the event by buying an uncertified image or historical certificate.

What index entries can I access online?

Our online index entries date back to 1853, the year registration began in Victoria. We also have church baptism, marriage and burial records as far back as 1836.

All index entries are outside of the restricted access period, however not all unrestricted records are available online (details on what is in the Historical index below).

If you need access to any records that are not online, you will need to lodge an application and BDM will search the database on your behalf.

Click here to access our online system to apply for non-historical images.

Click here to read our Access Policy.

What's in the Historical index?

The Historical index has entries relating to:

  • births in Victoria from 1853 to 1916
  • marriages in Victoria from 1853 to 1942
  • deaths in Victoria from 1853 to 1988
  • church baptisms, marriages and burials in Victoria from 1836 to 1853

Each entry includes the:

  • name of the person or people the entry relates to
  • type of event (such as birth, marriage or death)
  • registration year
  • registration number
  • other information relevant to the type of event.

What's in the Events at sea index?

The Events at sea (Marine) index contains over 6,200 entries relating to births, marriages and deaths that happened between 1853 and 1920 onboard international and coastal ships bound for port in Victoria.

Each entry includes the:

  • name of the person or people the entry relates to
  • type of event (such as birth, marriage or death)
  • name of the ship the event happened on
  • registration year
  • registration number
  • other information relevant to the type of event.

What is the difference between 'registration year' and 'year of event'?

The 'registration year' is the year that an event was registered. The 'year of event' is the year that the event (such as a birth or death) occurred.

The registration year and year of event may not be the same. Because index searches are based on the year of registration, we recommend that you provide a five‐year range in the ‘Event timeframe’ field – the year of event (if known), plus two years before and two years after.

If you are searching for baptism records, remember that the year of baptism is not always the same as the year of birth.

What are uncertified images?

Uncertified images are downloadable, scanned images of original registration records. They are specially designed for family history research and you cannot use them as proof of identity.

If you purchase an uncertified image online, you can download it to your computer immediately.

When you purchase an uncertified image online you will receive an Image Collection Number (ICR or Image Number). You can use the ICN to download your image(s) directly to your computer.

You must download your image within 30 days of purchase.

What are historical certificates?

You can use historical certificates as proof of identity. These are hard copy certificates that contain the same information as downloadable uncertified images, as well as the Registrar's certification, signature and seal.

To buy a historical certificate use either the online system or the birthdeath or marriage certificate application form. A hard copy of your certificate will be posted out to you.