BDM Home > Family History Search

Tracing your family tree

Searching the online historical index is free, and a great starting point to research your family tree as our records date from 1788. As there is only limited information available for free, choosing to purchase a Family History Certificate is the next thing to consider. There are several ways to trace your family tree:

Getting started

Start with the information you know and work backwards. Who you are and who were your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc? Talk to older members of your family, like your grandparents and prepare some questions beforehand. Consider recording their answers with a tape recorder.

Your relatives can probably give you information about people going back some years, but as you move through the generations you generally need to start checking other sources. This is where our birth, death and marriage records can help.

Certificates have information not just about the subject of that registration but also other family members. For example, a death certificate has the deceased person's name, their age at death and often their occupation. Depending on the information supplied at the time of registration, it may also contain the names of their parents, the name of their spouse and often the names and ages of their children.

Certificates can be a stepping stone to previous generations: 
  • A death certificate may contain names of parents, and you can then search for the parents' marriage certificate.
  • The parent's marriage certificate may contain their place of birth, their age at marriage, the date of the marriage and sometimes their parents' names.
  • When you now know their approximate year of birth, you can search for their individual birth certificates which will give their parent's place of birth.
As this is a step-by-step process, it is important to realise that your family history search may take some time.

Make your own search

There are a couple of options...

  • You can search Family History with us for free!

  • or, visit your local library.

Most public libraries hold copies of our microfiche, where you can search a registration number. You can then purchase a certificate online from our website, or apply with a Family History postal application. Remember to include the registration number for a discounted fee.

Ask the Registry to search for you

Please provide all known details of the person's record you wish to search including their:

  • Surname
  • First name
  • Date and place of birth, death or marriage
  • Any other relevant details

If you don't know when the event occurred, you can nominate a 10-year period for a search. Or, if the date you've provided is incorrect, we'll search up to five years either side of the date.

You can also request to search a longer period than 10 years at an extra cost.

  • Initial search of up to 10 years (includes a birth, death or marriage certificate) for $43.
  • Each extra search of up to 10-year incurs an extra fee of $43.

Think carefully about the date of the birth, death or marriage you wish to search. If you wait for the results of your first search and then decide to extend the timeframe, it will count as a new search and you will be charged a further $43.
If you are unsure about the spelling of a name, note this on your application form and we will check any minor variations. A search under a different family name will require separate search fees.
For a Registry Search, complete a Family History postal application. Identification is not required.
For a Registry Search, complete a Family History postal application. Identification is not required.    

Searching for a John Smith?

  • Try our "Number Checking Service". Sometimes in the index you may find multiple entries relating to the same name. For $43 we will check up to ten registration numbers against the details you give us (eg, mother's maiden name, spouse's name, occupation). We will try to locate the correct certificate, however if we aren't successful we will forward you a notice to indicate "no result".