Key points

  • When issuing a birth certificate of a person who has died, the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM) will issue the certificate to the applicant as follows:
    • Standard birth certificate – with an annotation that the person is ‘deceased’. This is BDM’s standard practice

    • Commemorative birth certificate – without an annotation that the person is deceased.

  • The application must be in accordance with BDM’s Access Policy
  • The reason for BDM including deceased annotations is to prevent fraud and protect individuals’ identity security.

Policy objective

BDM issues proof of identity documents relating to life events registered in Victoria. This includes births and deaths.

BDM has an obligation to maintain accurate records and high standards of identity security. This policy sets out BDM’s policy in relation to:

  • Data matching, including linking Victorian births to deaths
  • Determining when a ‘deceased’ indicator will appear on the birth certificate.

Background

BDM applies this policy when issuing Victorian birth certificates relating to a person who has died.

BDM issues both standard and commemorative birth certificates for births registered in Victoria.

A standard birth certificate:

  • Certifies a person’s birth including their name, the date and place of their birth, and their parents’ details
  • Can be used as official proof of identity. This may include claiming government benefits, enrolling in childcare or school, or getting a passport or driver’s licence.

A commemorative birth certificate:

  • Is a keepsake decorative document that celebrates a person’s birth in a unique and lasting way
  • Is not accepted as proof of identity document.

Reasons for the policy

Deceased indicator

BDM matches Victorian births with deaths to link life events together. This is to ensure that they accurately reflect a person’s life status. For non-Victorian deaths, BDM updates the birth record as ‘deceased’ when presented with a death certificate or notified by another state or country.

Once a Victorian birth record has a ‘deceased’ status recorded, the birth certificate is marked as ‘deceased’. This is called an annotation.

The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 (the Act) authorises BDM to: 

  • Match death and birth data 
  • Include the word ‘deceased’ on a deceased person’s birth certificate

This is provided under sections 41(2)(b), 43(4) and 46(1)(a) of the Act.

Fraud prevention

Serious and undesirable consequences can occur if official identity documents are issued to an applicant without a ‘deceased’ annotation for a person who has died.

BDM is responsible for issuing identity documents that can be used to prove identity and conduct transactions. As a result, BDM has an obligation to maintain accurate and secure identity records.

Australia’s states and territories have common security standards for identity documents. This ensures the transparency and integrity of Australian identity management.

In 2001, all Australian BDMs agreed to mark birth certificates of deceased persons with a ‘deceased’ annotation. This was formalised in 2007 with the National Identity Security Strategy. Victoria BDM’s practice is in line with the national standard.

This practice is a critical fraud prevention measure. It limits the risk of identity fraud by ensuring that a birth certificate accurately reflects a person’s life status.

Without a ‘deceased’ annotation, a birth certificate of a person who has died could be used for criminal purposes. For example, it could be used to access:

  • Identity documents (e.g. passports)
  • Rights (e.g. citizenship)
  • Services or monetary benefits (e.g. social security payments).

It could also risk reducing the community's trust in, and reliance on, BDM documents.

Policy

Issue of standard birth certificates

When issuing a standard birth certificate for a person who has died, BDM will issue the certificate to the applicant with an annotation that the person is deceased.

The request must be in accordance with BDM’s Access Policy.

The inclusion of ‘deceased’ does not alter the legal fact or recognition of the person’s birth. It establishes a link to another significant life event, accurately reflects the person’s life status, and enables easy identification that the death has been registered.

Issuance of commemorative birth certificates

When issuing a commemorative birth certificate for a person who has died, BDM will issue the certificate without the word ‘deceased’ on the certificate.

The request must be in accordance with BDM’s Access Policy.

There is often an emotional need to recognise the significance of a birth without linking it to the death. Commemorative birth certificates recognise this need. BDM can issue commemorative certificates without ‘deceased’ as they are not proof of identity. They cannot be used for official or legal purposes.

Legislative framework

Victorian framework

BDM is governed by the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996 and the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Regulations 2008 (the Regulations).

Legislation Reference and title
Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1996
  • s41:  The Register
  • s43:  Correction and amendment of Register
  • s46:  Issue of certificate

The Act requires the Registrar of Birth, Deaths and Marriages (the Registrar) to ‘maintain a register or registers of registrable events’. These include events such as a birth or death. These registers ‘must contain the particulars of each registrable event’. The Register ‘may contain further information if its inclusion is considered appropriate by the Registrar’ (s41).

The Registrar may correct the Register ‘to bring an entry about a particular registrable event into conformity with the most reliable information available to the Registrar of the registrable event’ (s43).

The Registrar may issue a certificate certifying particulars contained in an entry (s46). The applicant must first pay the prescribed fee.

Other relevant legislation

Legislation References and title
Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • Part 2 - Human Rights

National identity security policy

In 2007, the Commonwealth Government and all Australian states and territories agreed on a National Identity Security Strategy (NISS).

Strategy Reference and title
National Identity Security Strategy
  • Principle 1 – Protecting the identity information of Australians is a shared responsibility
  • Principle 4 – Commonly accepted identity credentials must be supported by strong security measures
  • Principle 5 – Identity security needs to be a core feature of standard business processes and systems

A key element of the NISS is improving the integrity of people’s identity data. This led the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department to issue:

  • Data Matching: Better Practice Guidelines 2009
  • Data Matching Principles.

These documents assist government agencies to improve the integrity of identity data. The Principles advise agencies to use deceased status indicators when matching data. This reduces the potential for records to be used fraudulently, such as to continue government payments after a person has died.

Guidelines References and title
Data Matching – Better Practice Guidelines 2009
  • Principle 4 – Make greater use of deceased status indicator