Please review these commonly asked questions below before calling us

Family research

You can download for free a copy of the shipping or passenger list from Ancestry on the computers in our public reading room and then print it out.

  • Please note! You need to order your records before they can be copied.
  • Once you’ve found the records on PROV’s index to inquests, 
  • login to the catalogue and order the item 
  • write down the citation details (Series id and item number) 
  • Submit a Photocopy Order Form (Mailed to you by post) OR
  • Submit a Digital image order form (PDF digital copy emailed to you)   

Enter the person’s name into PROV’s index to coronial investigations conducted by the Melbourne Coroner. They are also referred to as Body Cards.

Services

Copy requests can be placed in person at our Reading Rooms, or online.

  • Step 1: Order the record first via your online account.
  • Step 2: Write down the citation details (e.g. PROV, VPRS 1163/P1, Unit 744, 1883/291)
  • Step 3: Submit a Photocopy Order Form (Mailed to you)
  • OR  Submit a Digital Image Order Form (PDF digital copy emailed to you)   

There is a fee for this service. The prices are listed on this page about our copying services.

At the bottom of our Contact us page you will find the opening hours for our North Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo Reading Rooms. Visit the webpages of the Geelong Heritage Centre and Beechworth’s Robert O'Hara Burke Museum for details on accessing public records at their Reading Rooms.

Yes. There are also digital scanners and a digital camera available for use at no charge – just bring along a USB stick to save your images, or buy one in the Reading Room.

Only people who need to order closed physical records that their agency is responsible for, or need to view closed electronic records online that their agency is responsible for, need to register as a government user. See more details on ordering records as a government user.

Gaining permission and access

Once you have registered as a government user, click on the Government User Account Authorisation Form link and download the form.  Once the form is completed by you and your Records Manager, or another senior manager, and received by PROV, your account will be activated by PROV. You will be advised by a PROV staff member.

Password Reset Form – Request a password reset or to obtain your UserID.

If you are from a Government agency please contact us directly via recordsissuesoffice@prov.vic.gov.au

Just click on this link to go to our registration page.

There is a free car park, accessible via Macaulay Road.  There are also railway stations, tram and bus stops. 

Tram

Route 57: City to West Maribyrnong from Elizabeth Street via Victoria, Errol, Queensberry and Abbotsford Streets. Closest stop No. 16 at Haines Street.

Route 55: Domain Interchange to West Coburg from William Street via Flemington Road. Closest stop No. 19 at Abbotsford Street.

Route 59: City to Airport West from Elizabeth Street via Flemington Road. Closest stop No. 19 at Abbotsford Street.

Train: North Melbourne station or Macaulay station.

Bus: Route 402: East Melbourne to Footscray from terminus opposite St Vincent’s Hospital (Victoria Parade) via Rathdowne and Shiel Street. Closest stop Canning Street just south of the intersection with Shiel Street. Buses run every 10 minutes between 6.00am and 7.00pm.

Car: Melway ref: 2A E6, 43 C3. Two-hour street parking at Shiel Street entrance, or free parking via Macaulay Road.

Record retrieval

Records being preserved date from the establishment of Port Phillip District in the mid 1830’s up until almost the present day. They include information produced by government such as the administration of justice, immigration, health and welfare, land, education, housing, planning, transport, and resource management, among many other important records.

 

We do not hold all government records, far from it! There is a careful process of selection that helps determine if certain government records should be preserved for their long-term value to Victoria and Victorians. Here is a short presentation on what we keep and why or for a more detailed explanation on the appraisal tools we use to make this determination please read this guideline.

There are a number of record series that have been digitised and made available free of charge online through our website. A list of online indexes, databases and records can be found on our Online Collections page. If you would like a digitised copy of a record that is not currently available online, order the record with your log in details, and note down the citation of the records, then request a copy via our ‘copy request’ form (photocopy). There is a fee for this service.

We provide a range of resources and services to members of the public wishing to access the public records in our collection, but we cannot  do research on your behalf, there are professionals who can do that for you. A good place to start when searching for records is to visit our explore the collection index page, where some of our more popular records are collected by type into useful categories and you can search directly on those pages. Many of our research tools and our main records of interest can be found on those pages.

How to access records:

  • register a user account to search for details about records in the collection
  • order records for viewing in the Reading Rooms (24 at any one time)
  • view and download electronic and digitised records directly from the catalogue
  • explore our topics page for popular records
  • request online support.

 

After you have made your online order, records are delivered to the Victorian Archives Centre Reading Room in North Melbourne, Monday through to Friday at the following times:  10.30am and 2.30pm.

Records must be ordered before:

  • 8.00am to make the 10.30am collection time
  • 11.30am to make the 2.30pm collection time

Please note: Records in cold storage (such as photographs or series designated for conservation S11) require an additional 24 hours or more to be delivered. You can order 24 records at any one time. Records are held for you for a maximum of 10 working days. Regional Reading Rooms are open at different times, look at the Contact us page for details

We do not undertake research on your behalf. Professional search agents are available and charge a fee for their services. See Search agents for details. You can also ask a research question through our online researcher query form but we may point you back to this website – be sure to have visited our Explore the archives pages. Reading Room staff are also available to provide some basic guidance to those undertaking research in our Reading Rooms. If your are undertaking family or local history research, we recommend reading this handy online guide Private Lives, Public Records, contacting your local historical society or doing some general online research.

Copy requests can be placed in person at our Reading Rooms, or online.

  • Step 1: Order the record first via your online account.
  • Step 2: Write down the citation details (e.g. PROV, VPRS 1163/P1, Unit 744, 1883/291)
  • Step 3: Submit a Photocopy Order Form (Mailed to you)
  • OR  Submit a Digital Image Order Form (PDF digital copy emailed to you)   

There is a fee for this service. The prices are listed on this page about our copying services.

We do provide a copying service. Copying orders can be made in person through our Reading Rooms or online. You must order the records first using your own log in details. Once the order has been made, note down the citation details (for example: VPRS 2800, P1, Unit 4) then fill out a copy request form. Please read these instructions first. If you a Government agency and require copies or access to records please read this information first.

 Public users can order up to 8 records per delivery and can accumulate up to 24 orders in total. Only one item can be viewed at a reading room desk, unless the records are bound volumes with no loose paper. Records will be held in the Reading Room for you for ten days.

 Yes, so long as you have emailed us with the Permission to View information, citing who you are giving permission to view the records that are ordered under your account. Please forward these to our online researcher query form

If you are seeking access to records closed under Section 9 or Section 10 you will need to contact the Freedom of Information officer of the government department that is responsible for the particular records and inquire about making a Freedom of Information request. In some circumstances researchers can seek special access through PROV to records closed under section 9. See Special Access for more information. S11 refers to Section 11 of the Public Records Act, under which records are closed that are too fragile for public inspection. Records closed under S11 of the Act may have been microfilmed or digitised and may be available through one of our Reading Rooms. Otherwise you can make an application to view records that are closed under S11 through submitting an online enquiries form to us.

There are methods to request access to closed records, however it is only granted under very specific circumstances. The vast majority of records are closed out of respect to an individual's privacy, therefore a request for access to closed records will require evidence of its exceptional benefit to the public or to an individual. Please read further information on this page before beginning this process. The process can take considerable time, so please bear this in mind before making a request for consideration. Click here to access more information about accessing closed records 

Reading Rooms in Victoria

See the address, a map and public transport directions to our Reading Room in North Melbourne via this link or for other regional offices look to the bottom of this page.  Free parking is available. 

Yes. Researchers who have ordered records can make photographic copies using their own digital cameras and can copy them onto a USB stick. Each record to be copied must be listed on a copyright declaration form. The completed form is then submitted to the copy desk.

At the bottom of our Contact us page you will find the opening hours for our North Melbourne, Ballarat and Bendigo Reading Rooms. Visit the webpages of the Geelong Heritage Centre and Beechworth’s Robert O'Hara Burke Museum for details on accessing public records at their Reading Rooms.

When you visit one of our Reading Rooms you will be asked to sign in and place your belongings in a locker (secure lockers are available at our reading rooms)

  • The following items can be brought into the reading room; pencils, loose leaf paper,  laptops, cameras. 
  • The following are not permitted in the reading room: pens, folders, clipboards or plastic sleeves, bags, containers of any kind, food or drink.

Privacy and publication

If you wish to publish a public record either in hardcopy (e.g. a book) or digital format (including online) permission must be sought from the copyright owner. Public Record Office Victoria can grant permission to publish Crown copyright material, which comprises of the majority of records in the collection. Be aware however, that files may contain material which is either administered by other government agencies or is privately owned.

To seek permission by PROV to publish records, please submit a Request for permission to re-use a record. You must include details about the citation of each record you want to publish (series, unit and item) and as best you can identify the government authority (department, statutory authority etc) who created the record.

You will be informed if PROV cannot grant permission because the records are not Crown copyright. However PROV cannot undertake to find copyright owners on your behalf.

If you receive permission to publish from PROV then you can publish the record/s in any other publications that are of a non-commercial nature. However, for any publications which are commercial in nature, you must reapply to receive permission from PROV for that particular publication.

For further information about copyright and our collection see Copyright for researchers.

If you wish to publish, exhibit or provide references to  records in our collection, there are specific ways to reference the citation of the record. Please ensure accurate citations of public records are used in all publication. Here is how to write them.

Access restrictions are applied to certain types of records, in accordance with the Public Records Act 1973.  Records may be closed for various reasons, with the most common being privacy or preservation.  The access classification of records is displayed in the Access field (to the right hand side of record description and date details). For example, Mental Health and Criminal Case Files are closed for up to 75 years - Inquest files however are open.

Some of the records we hold are closed under various sections of the Public Records Act 1973. S9 refers to Section 9 (S9) of the Public Records Act, for records that contain personal and private information about persons that may still be living. These records are generally closed for up to 99 years for children, and 75 years for adults. S10 refers to Section 10 of the Public Records Act, which says that records may be closed to public access at the discretion of a Minister, countersigned by the Minister responsible for Public Record Office Victoria.

 

 

Access to records transferred from the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly are restricted. You will need to obtain prior approval from an authorised parliamentary official to access these records.  

Copyright law applies to Aboriginal records in the same way as other records in the collection. However due to the possible personal and cultural content contained within the records relating to Aboriginal people, researchers should make reasonable efforts, and act in good faith to ensure that any disclosure of information or images contained in these records is consistent with the sensitivities and views of relevant Aboriginal individuals and communities.
For further information please contact the Koorie Records Unit

 

Training

Training sessions are provided by the Victorian Archives Centre but there is no consistency. Check our What's On calendar. Some of our most popular collections have topic guides and they will guide you through the steps for research and you can search within those pages. It is best to look through our online educational publications, or seek support from a historical society.

We aim to meet the special needs of clients visiting our Reading Rooms. If you have a physical or hearing disability, are visually impaired or have special language needs, please contact us before your visit and we will try to provide any special assistance you require. 

General enquiries

Please email us your enquiry using this online contact form before contacting us by phone.

 

T:  +61 3 9348 5600

F:  +61 3 9348 5656

P: PO Box 2100, North Melbourne, VIC 3051

 

The hearing and speech impaired can reach us through the National Relay Service relayservice.com.au

TTY users: 1800 555 677 then ask for 1800 657 452.

Speak and Listen users: 1800 555 727 then ask for 1800 657 452.

Internet relay users: www.iprelay.com.au/call/index.aspx then ask for 1900 657 452.