​Please note: our Search facility is unavailable for 2-3 minutes each evening at 8.20pm. Sorry for any inconvenience.

​​Family history search

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    Searching historical records can provide valuable insight into your family history and identity. Our records of births, deaths and marriages in NSW date from 1856. Early church records from 1788 to 1855 are also available.

    Start Searching

    You can conduct your own family history search using our Family History Search engine. We offer free, unrestricted searching with no identification required for:

    • Births over 100 years ago
    • Deaths over 30 years ago
    • Marriages over 50 years ago

    After viewing the search results, you can purchase a certificate to obtain all the information available. A family history certificate is an accurate record of the Register issued under seal.

    On-screen it may say "PDF Unavailable" but don't worry that only means we will create a file to send you. Choose the email option to receive a digital record that's easily stored.

    Applying online via our Family History Search engine gives you a discounted fee of $35 (usually $48 when applying by post).

    Download Family history search help guide - PDF

    Ask the Registry to search for you

    You may wish to have a family history search conducted by the Registry. When you apply make sure to 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

    Download Family history search application - PDF

    Think carefully about the date of birth, death or marriage you wish to search for. If you’re unsure about the spelling of a name, note this on your application form and we’ll check any minor variations. 

    If you’re unsure of when the event occurred you can nominate a 10-year period for a search. If the date you’ve provided is incorrect, we’ll search up to five years either side of the date.

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

    • An initial search of up to 10 years (birth, death or marriage certificate) for $48
    • Each additional search of up to 10 years incurs an extra fee of $45

    If you wait for the results of your first search and then decide to search a longer timeframe, this will count as a new search and you will be charged a further fee. A search under a different family name is treated as a new search and will incur separate search fees.

    Local library search

    You can also visit your local library when conducting your own family history search. Most public libraries hold copies of our microfiche allowing you to search a registration number. You can then purchase a certificate from us. Remember to include the registration number for a discounted fee.

    Or ask a transcription agent

    Family history transcription agents provide full and partial transcriptions, or verification of details. A good idea if you only need the facts, and not full certified copies of certificates. For information and fees refer to the contacts below:

    Tips for family history research

    The best way to gather family history information is to start with what you know and work backwards beginning with your parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Talk to older family members and consider preparing questions and recording their answers.

    As you move through generations you can verify your information with birth, death and marriage records held by the Registry in the form of certificates. Certificates are great stepping stones for searching information from previous generations and often contain information not just about the subject but also other family members:

    • 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 know their approximate year of birth, you can search for their individual birth certificates which will give their parents’ place birth.

    Contact us for help

    For questions about family history indexes email our Family History team

    For technical or system issues email our Technical support team