Naturalisation records

Download the PDF version of Naturalisation records: family history info guide [PDF 85 kb]

Why did migrants apply to be naturalised?

The call for migrants to the Australian colonies saw an influx of people from a number of European and Asian countries. However, non-British migrants did not have the same rights and privileges as British settlers.

Before 1849, aliens could only be naturalised by a special Act of Parliament. However, between 1834 and 1848, letters of denization were granted allowing aliens to enjoy some of the rights of a natural born British subject.

No letters of denization were issued after 1848, and legislation in 1849 formalised the process of naturalisation. Once naturalised settlers were afforded most of the rights their fellow British colonists enjoyed, including the right to own land.

Prior to 1904, the States were responsible for naturalisation applications. Records for Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia up to this date are held in the relevant State archives.

However, naturalisation records for Victoria and South Australia up to 1903 are in the custody of the National Archives of Australia.

How can I access naturalisation records?

From 1904 naturalisation became a federal government responsibility. Naturalisation records from this date are located in the National Archives of Australia.

Name references to early 20th century naturalisation records may be found in the National Archives Australia's Record Search [Name Search tab > Immigration & Naturalisations]

State Library of Queensland holds:

Queensland

SLQ holds:

New South Wales

State Records NSW Index to Naturalisation 1834-1903

The wildcard search option in this online index is particularly useful in tracing frequently misspelled foreign names.

The index includes over 5,500 names and provides details of surname, given name/s, native place, date of certificate, register and page number, AO/SR reel number. Queensland migrants applying for naturalisation prior to 1859 will be found in the NSW records.

Registers record:

  • the certificate number
  • name
  • native place and country
  • age
  • ship by which arrived
  • year of arrival
  • present place of residence
  • date of certificate
  • record number of memorial
  • remarks.

SLQ holds:

Queensland migrants applying for naturalisation prior to 1859 will be found in the NSW records.

See also the following State Records NSW guide for more information:

Victoria

SLQ holds:

This name index provides series and item references that can be used to retrieve the relevant files held by the National Archives of Australia.

Tasmania

Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office Index to Naturalisations 1835-1905

This index to approximately 1,200 applicants for naturalisation and denization provides details of surname, given name/s, date of application, and reference number.

Copies of the original records are available for a fee.

See also Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office guide to Naturalisations.

South Australia

South Australian Naturalizations 1839-1903

Compiled by Adelaide Co-operative History from lists published in the South Australian Government Gazette and records held at National Archives of Australia and State Records of South Australia.

Details may include:

  • name
  • residence
  • occupation
  • birthplace
  • age
  • time in South Australia
  • dates of Memorial, Oath of Allegiance and Certificate of Naturalisation
  • source

SLQ holds:

This name index provides series and item references that can be used to retrieve the relevant files in the custody of the National Archives of Australia (Adelaide office).

New Zealand

Aliens naturalized in New Zealand, 1843-1916 [microfiche] (MFC 351.81709931 1988)
This publication includes a copy of 'Names, etc. of alien friends who have been naturalized in New Zealand.

Register of persons naturalised in New Zealand to 1948 [microfiche] (MFC 929.393 1995)
This register contains surname, forename, date of birth or age, place of birth, stated former nationality, occupation, place of residence, date of naturalisation, file number, certificate of register and register page number.

Register of persons granted New Zealand citizenship, 1949 to 1968 [microfiche] (MFC 929.393 1995)
Arranged alphabetically by surname, this register includes forenames, date and place of birth, date of naturalisation and file number.

Papua New Guinea

Some expatriates of Papua New Guinea [microfiche] (MFC 929.3953 1992)

Part 2: Miscellaneous includes applications for naturalisation published in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea Government Gazette between October 1947 and January 1956.

Entries provide full name, nationality, place of birth, number of years in Australia/PNG, and present place of residence.

Indexes arranged by nationality

Early Dutch immigrant naturalizations: an alphabetical index 1849-1903 (PAM 994.004393 1987)

An index of 165 Dutch settlers naturalised in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria in the 19th century. Details usually include surname, other names, place of origin, ship and year/date of arrival, date of naturalisation and State, occupation and present place of residence.

Check One Search online catalogue for further titles.

Download the PDF version of Naturalisation records: family history info guide [PDF 85 kb]

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