Victorian immigration and emigration

Find passenger lists and other records of migrants arriving in and leaving Victoria.

Unassisted immigration

Unassisted passengers paid their own fares to Australia, or were privately sponsored. Prior to 1852, ship's masters were not required to record the names of unassisted passengers.

Unassisted passengers travelled either in steerage or in (more costly) cabins. The information recorded about a cabin or steerage passenger was usually very brief. Females, children, servants and steerage passengers were frequently left off the passenger lists. Some passengers were only listed under their surname, or the initials of their first name, or as part of a family group, for example Mr. Smith & family, Mr. G Jones, Miss Begg.

In many cases there is no more information on unassisted passenger lists than on the index. However, the lists are still worth checking, as they sometimes give a person’s occupation and nationality, as well as group families together.

Cabin passengers may also be listed in the ‘Shipping Intelligence’ columns of early newspapers (many of which are indexed). See the Additional resources box for more information.

After 1871, records of assisted migrants were not kept separately from those of unassisted migrants. To search for the arrival of assisted migrants between 1872 - 1923, consult the unassisted index and passenger lists listed below.

Official index and passenger lists 1852-1923


To find an unassisted immigrant's arrival into Victoria, search the Public Record Office Victoria's Unassisted Passenger lists. A digitised passenger list can be viewed for each record.

The passenger lists are also available to view on Ancestry Library Edition (available onsite to Library users) and on microfiche in the Library's Newspapers & Family History Reading Room.


The steps below outline how to access the lists on microfiche in our Newspapers & Family History Reading Room.

Step 1: Search the Index to unassisted inward passenger lists to Victoria 1852-1923 available on the Public Record Office Victoria website.

Take note of the ship name, month and year.  

Step 2. Once you have obtained this information you can then look up your passenger list. The following passenger lists are available in the Library's Newspapers and Family History Reading Rooms at call number GMF 106 Box 3 - 16.

Immigration to Victoria : inward passenger lists, British ports, 1852-1923

Immigration to Victoria : inward passenger lists, foreign ports, 1852-1923

Inward overseas passenger lists. New Zealand 1852-1923

Glengoil passenger list January 1886

Pre 1852 immigration

Prior to 1852, ship's masters were not required to record the names of unassisted passengers. There are however, some resources you can consult if researching an arrival in this time period.

Please also consult the Additional resources tab, for further resources.

Additional resources

  In print

The following print resources are available in the Library's Family History & Newspaper Room: