Researching vital records for family history

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is the main place in WA to gain Births, Deaths and Marriages Certificates

Birth, Death and Marriage certificates provide the cornerstone for most family history research as they often contain valuable information identifying family members. Depending on the date of registration and type of certificate, it is possible to locate information such as names of parents, spouse, siblings and children, date and place of birth for parents, and burial details. In WA civil registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages has been compulsory since September 1841.

Copies of birth, death and marriage certificates must be purchased directly from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (BDM). The BDM Registry has an  Online Index which will assist you with name searches for relevant records. Obtaining the registry district and number is highly recommended, as the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages will charge a reduced fee for the copy of the required certificate if these details can be provided upon application.

To locate certificates of a more recent nature it is necessary to contact the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages directly.

To purchase certificates online or obtain information on the fees and conditions applicable please see the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages section of the Department of Justice website or contact them directly:

Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages

Level 10, 141 St Georges Terrace
Phone: 1300 305 021 (calls from within Australia only)
Overseas calls only: International Access Code + 61 8 9264 1555
PO Box 7720
Cloisters Square

Hours: 8.30 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays).


Other WA Births, Marriages and Deaths records

While the BDM registry is the main source of records the State Records Office does hold other records containing information on births, deaths and marriages within WA. The sources of this information includes local court house records, police station records, Coroner's Court inquests, Colonial Secretary's Office correspondence, Supreme Court records, and Cemetery Board records.

Births and Deaths at Sea

The State Records Office holds some records relating to deaths occurring at sea reported in Western Australian ports. These records were created by the Harbour and Light Department and include the following:

Births and Deaths

Although the copies of official birth and death certificates can only be obtained from the registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages there are in some instances similar types of records held in the custody of the State Records Office. These alternative sources of information comprise of ad hoc registers and listings compiled by local government authorities, police stations and mining registrar's for various localities from throughout the State.

Examples of the types of records available include:

Other references to Deaths can be found in records created by the Colonial Secretary's Office, Court Houses, Police Stations, Shire Councils and Road Boards etc.

Marriage Records

In addition to the marriage certificate it is sometimes possible to track down information on marriages through marriage notification registers held by the State Records Office.

Various registers from Local Courthouses, Mining Registrars, district offices of the Registrar General's Office, as well as the Colonial Secretary's Office contain details on marriages from throughout Western Australia. Most of these marriage records are locality based and consist of registers of notice of marriage.



  • Registrar General's Office - Canning District, Notices of Marriages, 1880-1905, Acc 918
  • Clerk of Courts Coolgardie, Notice of Marriage Register, 1900-1902, Series 1536, Consignment 1332
  • Mining Register Cue, Marriage Notices, 1900-1903, Cons786, Items 350-353, AN 17
  • Geraldton Courthouse, Marriage Notice Book, 1879-1898, Acc 932, Item 22, AN 17
  • Registrar General's Office, Irwin District Register Marriage, 1881-1910, Acc 1108
  • Leonora Courthouse, Notices of Marriage, 1905, Acc 2695, AN 17
  • Toodyay Courthouse. District Marriage Notice Book, 1880-1906, Acc 721, Item 53, AN 17

Divorce Records

The State Records Office holds divorce records created by the Supreme Court of WA covering the period 1864-1976. The Supreme Court held jurisdiction in matrimonial cases from 1863, when the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act was passed, up until 1976 when the Family Court Act established State-controlled Family Courts which took over from the Supreme Court divorce and matrimonial causes jurisdiction. Subsequent divorce records are held by the Family Court of WA.

  • Supreme Court of WA, Divorce Registers, 1864-1976, Series 40
    The alphabetical index provided in these registers allows file numbers for specific divorce cases to be identified. Registers also provide useful summary information on individual divorce cases. Later volumes record information such as the names of petitioners, respondents and co-respondents, maiden name of wife and date and place of marriage, and from 1941 onwards the number of children by the marriage. The registers are not restricted and can be viewed on microfilm in the State Records Office Mic
  • Supreme Court of WA, Divorce Files, 1864-1977, Series 35
    Typically the records in this series consist of petitions, counter-petitions, affidavits, notice of decrees, and related documents. Some files also contain photographs and other evidence. In order to identify particular files, researchers must first note the number given to the divorce in the Divorce Registers (case number/year).

Divorce files have a 75 year restricted access period. Further information on accessing restricted records can be found on our Accessing Restricted Records page.

See also further information on accessing Supreme Court divorce records.

Cemetery & Burial Records

Cemetery Board records can be valuable for locating details on deaths in certain areas. The State Records Office has a number of consignments that contain registers and applications for order of burial. Burial registers can contain information such as date of death and burial, name, age, last residence, occupation, who performed the ceremony, cause of death, religion, undertaker, location in cemetery, number of grave and allotment.

The following are selected examples of the records available:

Information on burials in Western Australia can also be obtained by searching the various cemeteries and burials indexes available on microfiche in the Battye Library. Indexes to records of internments, cremations and memorials for some metropolitan cemeteries are available online through the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board website.

Coroner's Court & Coronial Inquests

Unfortunately relatively few coronial inquest records have survived the last century.

Information relating to early coronial inquests can best be located through the records of the relevant local courthouse or local police station. Coroner's reports contained in court records often include evidence given by various witnesses along with the verdict reached.

The following represent a sample of the coronial records available:

References to inquests held prior to 1900 can occasionally be found amongst the Colonial Secretary's Office records. Furthermore, the findings of inquests are often reported in newspapers (particularly for country areas) and details of verdicts can also be found in the Police Gazette.

Additionally, some surviving bound Inquest and Reports of Deaths Registers dating back to the 1920's are still held by the Coroner's Court.

Probate & Administration Records

The administration of deceased estates in Western Australia was originally a function of the Civil Court of WA. Wills were registered and deposited with the Civil Court from 1832-1861, as were letters of administration granted when a person died intestate (without a will). In 1861 jurisdiction for the administration of deceased estates was transferred to the Supreme Court, which still retains this function today.

Many of the records created by these courts in the course of administering deceased estates have been transferred to the State Records Office. Details of the records held by the State Records Office are available in the Court Records section.

Further informatiom on Probate and Administration records can be found on our Grants of Probate (Wills) and Letters of Administration information sheet.

Church Records

Prior to the introduction in 1841 of compulsory registration of births, deaths and marriages, the responsibility for maintaining these records was assumed by the churches. Most of these early records were copied by the Registrar General's Office and transferred to the State Records Office as part of the following consignment:

  • Registrar General's Office, List of Births, Deaths and Marriages by locality for the Anglican Church, 1829-1841, Acc 703, AN 9

Other Western Australian church records that document baptisms, burials and marriages are held by the Private Archives section of the Battye Library.