FAQ - Immigration

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What date range of passenger lists does PROV have?

PROV has the following date range of passenger lists:

  • Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists from British, Foreign and NZ Ports 1852 – 1923
  • Registers of Assisted Immigrants from UK 1839 – 1871
  • Outward Passengers to Interstate, U.K. and Foreign Ports 1852 – 1923
  • Inward Passenger Lists (Australian Ports) 1852 - 1923

How do I look at Passenger Lists online?

Answer coming soon but in the meantime, you can watch a video example of searching the Inwards Passenger List 1852-1923  

Are ships crew listed on passenger lists?

In some cases, crew members are recorded on early ships' passenger lists. You can search on the online passenger index under the surname you are interested in.

What type of information is on a passenger list?

Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria (1852-1923) contain information on the ship and the details of each passenger which often includes marital status, age, sex and usually nationality and occupation. The fiche and page number along with the ship name and port of origin code (B=Britain, N=New Zealand and F=other foreign) provided by the index will lead you to the relevant passenger list.


Assisted Inward British Immigration Lists (1839-1871) records passengers whose journey from Britain was subsidised by either government or a private entrepreneur. It is worth noting that, although this scheme continued until 1883, those who travelled as an assisted immigrant after 1871 were recorded on the unassisted passenger lists. These passenger lists are divided into two sections – a nominal list and a disposal list. The nominal list usually gives the details of each immigrant’s name, age, occupation, religion, native place and literacy level. The disposal list details what happened to the immigrant after their arrival and often includes details of further employment. The book and page number along with the ship name provided by the index will lead you to the relevant passenger list.


Outward Passenger Lists (Interstate, U.K and Foreign Ports) (1852-1923) contains information on the ship and the details of each passenger which often includes marital status, age, sex and usually nationality and occupation.

I am looking for my ancestor who arrived in Australia?

You can search PROV's online indes for passenger arrivals into Victoria.  Some passengers on the unassisted lists have their arrival for other Australian ports listed.  You may also wish to check other Australian state records offices to establish if they have records of arrivals.

I can’t find my ancestors details but I know they arrived in Australia during this time?

If you do not find passengers on PROV's lists, you may wish to search other Australian State Archives office.  See PROVguide 17 for their addresses.

If they arrived into Victoria prior to 1865, you may also wish to search the microfiche records which are available at PROV reading rooms and the State Library of Victoria genealogy room. These indexes may lead to passenger movements listed in the early newspapers.  You can view the list of microfiche available on PROVguide 51 Family History Research at PROV.

What is the difference between the three online indexes?

Answer coming soon...

How do I find a ships logs and manuscripts?

PROV does not hold records of ships logs. You may wish to establish if major libraries hold them in their collection. Many of the ships logs may be in custody of descendants of the ships masters.

How do I find a list of ships that arrived in Australia?

PROV has records of Shipping arrivals from 1839 to 1924.  You can also search for passenger ships See PROVguide 54 for further information.

How do I find records of ships crew?

PROV holds some records of crews from 1857 to 1922.  For information about accessing these records have a look at the Ships Crew guide number 49.

VPRS 566 Articles of Agreement (Mercantile Marine Office) 1878 – 1921
These were made at the start of a voyage and completed at the end. The agreements are arranged in bundles by the year of agreement and by the area of trade of the ship (Intercolonial/ Australian, United Kingdom, Foreign going). Within the bundles the agreements are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the ship.

VPRS 945 Release Books (Mercantile Marine Office) 1857 – 1922
At the end of a voyage the release of the crew was recorded. The Releases were recorded in date order. Separate volumes were used to record the releases for Intercolonial/Australian or Foreign voyages and for steamer voyages.

VPRS 558 Seamen’s Discharge Certificate (Mercantile Marine Office) 1882 – 1922
This series comprises counterfoils (or stubs) of Certificates of Discharge issued to seamen upon their discharge or upon payment of their wages between 1882 and 1922. The books of counterfoil stubs are arranged in chronological order by the date of discharge, and according to the area of trade of the ship.

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