Researching your Victorian ancestors

A guide to family history research using the major Victorian resources


Australian immigration and shipping records were state based until 1923 when the Australian Government assumed responsibility for passenger arrivals and departures. Pre 1923 records are housed in the relevant state archives and post 1923  are held by the National Archives of Australia.

Victorian records

For detailed information on researching people arriving in and departing from Victoria please go to the Victorian immigration and emigration research guide.


Emigrants landing at the Queen's Wharf, Melbourne, IAN25/08/63/1

Other states and territories


National Archives of Australia migration and citizenship records

New South Wales

State Records of NSW immigration records

South Australia

State Library of South Australia immigration to South Australia guide       


LINC Tasmania arrivals


Queensland State Archives immigration indexes

Western Australia         

State Library of Western Australia immigration records
State Records Office of Western Australia passenger lists & immigration records

Detailed information on how to locate immigration records can be found in the  state and territory genieguides, available in Family History and Newspaper Room.

Naturalisation records

Non-British persons who were residents of Australia for more than 5 years could become citizens on application to the authorities.  With naturalisation they would acquire the rights and privileges of citizens to own land, vote in elections etc. Few females applied.

Chinese residents were naturalised in significant numbers until 1885 when the Victorian government changed it's naturalisation policy. Applications would no longer be approved ‘unless a sufficient reason was assigned’. The number of certificates issued decreased and by 1888 none were issued.

Naturalisation records may include, in the handwritten application, the place of birth, former place of residence, birthplace and name of the ship and the date of arrival in the colony/country of the applicant



Victoria - naturalisation records


1904 onwards


Victoria - Indexes to naturalisation certificates


  • Victoria - Index to Naturalisation Certificates, 1851-1928. Available at the Library on the Ancestry Library Edition database
    This collection includes images of a card index to naturalisation certificates issued to non-British subjects in Victoria. Details on the cards include the name of the person, occupation, place of residence, age, native place, the date and number of the certificate, and the reference to the record book and page.Certificates can be ordered from the National Archives of Australia.






Other states

Pre 1904

  • Naturalisation records for the Province of South Australia are held in the National Archives Adelaide Office.
  • Naturalisation records for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania before 1904 are held by the appropriate State government archive office.

1904 onwards


Ships information

For technical information, pictures, logs and histories of passenger and cargo ships please consult the Library's Ships and shipping guide.

State Library Victoria


As of Monday 16 March 2020 our Library buildings are closed to the public due to the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Our Ask A Librarian  reference service is still available to assist with your research inquiries.