Searching family history

Finding historical records on the Western Australian Online Index.

The Registry has more than 3.1 million records relating to people who were born, married or died in Western Australia. A similar registration system operates in other Australian States and Territories, and records relating to your ancestors who may have lived interstate can be traced by inquiring at that state's registry.

The best way to trace your family tree is to start with the information you know and work backwards - yourself, your parents, grandparents, great grandparents. Your relatives can give you information about other family members, but as you move through the generations, you will need to start checking other sources. This is where birth, death and marriage certificates can help.

 
FH1 - Family History Reduced Fee Form

WA Online Index

The Registry has updated the WA Online Index. It now has an additional 122,580 registrations to assist you in tracing family history. You can search the WA Online Index free of charge. If you choose to order a copy of the event, refer to the Forms and fees section or apply online at Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages Online.

  Date Range Number of records
BIRTHS (open era = 100 years after date of birth) 1841-1921 237,640
DEATHS (open era = 30 years after date of death) 1841-1991 539,671
MARRIAGES (open era = 75 years after date of marriage) 1841-1946 157,994

The WA Online index will be updated annually.

Open era date ranges are used by all State and Territory Registries throughout Australia. This accommodates the increase in life expectancy and complies with the Western Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1998. For searches outside of the open era range, see the Request a birth, death or marriage search section.

Transcripts of early colonial records (prior to 1841) deposited with the State Archives can be viewed at the J S Battye Library, Alexander Library Building, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge.

Apply for a family history certificate

A certificate of any birth, death or marriage registration located in the Western Australian Online Index can be purchased by selecting the order form option located at the end of each index entry. This form should be printed and the applicant details added before posting to the Registry along with the required fee.

In recognition of the fact that the fraudulent use of certificates reduces with the age of the record, the evidence-of-identity requirements are not required for historical Open Era records.

The Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is aware that some private companies charge a fee to download copies of birth, death and marriage certificate application forms or to assist with the certificate application process. Application forms are readily available for the public to download at no cost. These companies have no affiliation with the Registry and any complaints about their operations should be directed to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety’s Consumer Protection division.

Uncertified copies - redacted or un-redacted

Uncertified plain paper copies of original handwritten or typed WA records are available for:

  • Births that occurred 100 years or more ago
  • Deaths between 1841 to 1983 (original handwritten or typed records are not available for deaths from 1984 as they have all been digitised)
  • Marriages that occurred 75 years or more ago

These cannot be used for official or legal purposes such as proof of identity and can only be obtained from the Perth Registry Office. Applications will not be accepted at courthouse locations.

Uncertified copies of original records may be of varying quality and legibility, handwritten or typed. Every effort is made to provide the best image quality possible but where the image is difficult to decipher the Registry is unable to transcribe the document of provide a refund.

Please note some words in Open Era records may cause offence. In order to avoid causing offence, the copy you receive will be redacted unless you specifically ask for an un-redacted copy. By asking for an un-redacted copy, you accept that the copy you receive could contain words that may cause, or be capable of causing, offence to you or someone else who is aware of it.

Original records held at the Registry are confidential and are not available for viewing for family history research by members of the public or professional genealogists.

Who can apply for family history certificates?

In Western Australia, historical certificates are available to:

  • Anyone (16 years of age or over) for births 100 years old or more
  • Anyone (16 years of age or over) for deaths 30 years old or more
  • Anyone (16 years of age or over) for marriages 75 years old or more.

In recognition of the fact that the fraudulent use of certificates reduces with the age of the record, the evidence-of-identity requirements are not required for the historical certificates stated above.

More recent certificates held by the Registry contain sensitive and personal information and are restricted to eligible people only.

A person must be at least 16 years of age to apply for a certificate and must provide their evidence-of-identity.

If you are not an eligible applicant you must provide the written consent or authority from an eligible person and you must also provide evidence-of-identity for yourself and that person (see Letter of Authority download below).

Please refer to the Who can apply sections of the relevant birth, death or marriage web pages for a full list of eligible applicants.

Forms and fees

Forms

Fees

The fees for applying for a certificate:

  • $53 - Certified Birth, Death or Marriage Certificate
  • $35 - Search of an Index (each 10 year range)
  • $20 - Uncertified copy of a record (Open Era records only)
  • $42 - Priority Service (not payable when applying in person)

The following payment methods are accepted:

  • Credit card - MasterCard or Visa only
  • EFTPOS debit card or cash - When paying in person
  • Cheque or money order - Payable to Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. When paying at a Western Australian court payable to the Department of Justice.
  • Overseas applicants - $AUD via credit card (MasterCard or Visa only) or international money order or bank draft payable to Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Refund policy

  • The Refund Policy (PDF 541.32KB) outlines the circumstances that are considered for refund of fees paid for goods or services provided by the Western Australian Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages.

What identification is required

Applicants are required to provide at least three forms of evidence-of-identity documents before being eligible to receive certificates.

One from List 1, 2 and 3. At least one containing a photograph

or

One from List 1 and two from List 2. At least one containing a photograph

or

Two from List 2 and one from List 3. At least one containing a signature.

List 1 – Link between photo and signature

  • Australian driver’s licence
  • Australian Passport
  • Australian Firearm Licence
  • Defence Force/Police Id Card
  • Australian Citizenship Certificate (with evidence of residential status)
  • Western Australian Photo Card, Over 18 or Proof of Identity Card
  • Australian learner driver’s permit card

List 2 – Evidence of operating in the community

  • A financial institution Debit or Credit card
  • Document of identity issued by the Passport Office
  • Centrelink/Veterans Affairs Entitlement Card
  • Birth Certificates (birth extracts are not accepted)
  • Medicare Card
  • Naturalisation, citizenship or immigration papers issued by the Department of Home Affairs
  • Australian Security or Crowd Control Licence
  • Student Identity Document or Statement of Enrolment

List 3 – Proof of residency

  • Drivers licence renewal notice
  • Financial institution statement less than 6 months old
  • Motor vehicle registration
  • Property Lease or Tenancy Agreement
  • Shire/Water rates notice
  • Student Report or Certificate less than 12 months old
  • Utility Account less than 6 months old

For overseas applicants, the Registry will consider overseas equivalent evidence-of-identity documents.

Where to apply

Applications can be submitted:

In person

At the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Perth or at any court location in Albany, Armadale, Broome, Bunbury, Busselton, Carnarvon, Collie, Derby, Esperance, Fremantle, Geraldton, Joondalup, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Katanning, Kununurra, Mandurah, Manjimup, Merredin, Midland, Morra, Narrogin, Northam, Rockingham and South Hedland.

By post

Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
PO Box 7720
Cloisters Square
PERTH WA 6850

Page reviewed 23 January 2023