Australian BDM certificates & saving money

14 November, 2010 at 12:54 pm 12 comments

Australians refer to Births, Deaths and Marriages (or BDM) – in alphabetical order. In UK these are described as BMD (in chronological order) while most Northern Americans refer to Vital Statistics.

I’ve been writing a course on Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages for the National Institute of Genealogical Studies. In Australia births, deaths and marriages are managed separately by each state or territory. While these have some common history there are also differences in the records and indexes available. (Links to the various BDM Registries can be found here.)

The following are some tips for saving money, while searching Australian BDM:

  1. Check whether a family member already has a copy of the certificate you want.
  2. Most states’ and territories’ Registry BDM indexes online are free to search, although Victoria’s cost & some regions don’t have online indexes.
  3. Most states and territories have BDM indexes on CDROMs that can be searched freely at libraries and genealogical societies.
  4. is available to use freely at many libraries, genealogical societies & Family History Centers, so you do not need a personal subscription to check the combined ‘Australian Birth, Marriage and Death Index’.
  5. Cross-check details as much as possible before ordering, to minimise wrongly ordered certificates.
  6. Check holdings of genealogical societies – someone else might have deposited a copy of the certificate you want.
  7. Check the Australasia Births, Deaths & Marriages Exchange in case someone else has the certificate you want.
  8. Certificates are often cheaper if you can provide the name, year and registration numbers (and sometimes registration districts) – so check an index first and write down ALL the details.
  9. For New South Wales (NSW) and Tasmania, many 19th century church records are microfilmed & you may be able to see them at a genealogical society or library and write down the details yourself.
  10. For NSW transcriptions are cheaper than full certificates. Obtain these from Marilyn Rowan, Joy Murrin or Laurie Turtle. Early Church Records transcriptions are cheaper than civil certificate transcriptions.
  11. In South Australia transcriptions can sometimes be obtained free from the public libraries that hold District Registers. Note that each library can only provide transcriptions of one district, not others. Some libraries charge for this service and some offer it free. (eg Unley Library holds Adelaide District Register ONLY and will copy for researchers who live too far from the library to visit.)
  12. South Australian Genealogy & Heraldry Society (SAGHS) offers transcriptions of all districts of historic South Australian certificates.
  13. For Victoria, historical images of certificates (downloaded immediately as PDF files) are cheaper than certified printed copies of certificates (posted to you).
  14. Search Queensland BDM indexes online for free and order online the historical image of a certificate more cheaply than a certified historical certificate here.

Entry filed under: Births, Research techniques. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Australian Population Statistics DNA journey

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Judy Webster  |  24 November, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Good advice, Kerry. Another point worth noting is that certificates are sometimes available in Archives sources. For example, from about the mid-1890s onwards, Supreme Court probate files at Queensland State Archives usually contain a death certificate, which can be photocopied for about $1. I have seen birth, marriage and death certificates (including some from interstate and overseas) in many different record series at State Archives. More details are in a Queensland Genealogy blog post.

    • 2. Kerry Farmer  |  25 November, 2010 at 9:37 pm

      Thanks for that Judy – good point. Such certificates are often found (& easily & cheaply copied) in places like probate and divorce files. Take a digital camera along and it need not even cost you $1 to get a copy!

  • 3. Janelle Collins  |  30 October, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Kerry,
    Were your Scriven family from Croydon, Surrey at all?

    • 4. Kerry Farmer  |  30 October, 2012 at 11:00 pm

      I don’t think so. Mostly my SCRIVENs were from Dorset. I have a few family members associated with Croydon, but not the SCRIVENs.

  • […] See also my blog post on BDM certificates & saving money […]

  • 6. Sharon  |  3 April, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Some great tips here Kerry. I am very interested in the Births, Deaths and Marriages exchange. Think I will go and register now.

    Thank you

    Can I link this blog post to my recent post?

    • 7. Kerry Farmer  |  3 April, 2013 at 10:52 pm

      Feel free to link to this, but I’d appreciate you mentioning me as the source. Glad you liked it & thanks for asking first.

  • 8. Helen Smith  |  9 July, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Kerry, Queensland now also has a download service which is cheaper than a certified certificate.

    • 9. Kerry Farmer  |  11 July, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Thanks Helen. I’ve added this into the blog post now.

  • 10. Katrina Vincent  |  9 July, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    DON’T pay the Victorian 99c search fee!! After I had spent about $60 doing this, I found all the indexes were available on CD Rom in my local library.

  • […] Australian BDM certificates and saving money Australian BDM certificates aren’t cheap – that is a fact, and while this post is actually a couple of years old, it was referred to recently and is still valid, so is worth a mention here. In it, Kerry has done a great job of compiling together 14 great ways to save money on Australian BDM certificates. Read the full story … […]

  • 12. particularkev  |  30 July, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Reblogged this on Tracing Our History.


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