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PROVguide 50: Ships’ Passenger Lists

Transport – Ships’ Passenger Lists

Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) holds passenger lists for voyages to and from Victoria up to 1923.  Copies of the lists are available on microfiche and microfilm in PROV’s reading rooms at the Victorian Archives Centre and the Ballarat Archives Centre.  Microfiche copies of unassisted (1852-1923) and assisted (1839-1871) inward passenger lists are also available at libraries and genealogical centres around Australia.  For passenger lists created after 1923 please contact the National Archives of Australia.

The term “unassisted” was used to describe passengers who paid their own fare, to distinguish them from passengers that migrated under sponsorship schemes, known as “assisted” passengers. Inwards assisted and unassisted passenger lists have been indexed and the indexes are available online.  Outward passenger lists are in the process of being indexed by PROV volunteers. The online index to outward passenger lists is updated with new entries annually. 

Example record
An excerpt from the Alhambra’s passenger list
PROV, VPRS 947/P0, Unit 86, New Zealand, Alhambra, September 1876




 Searching for passengers

These database indexes provide access to microform copies of passenger lists held at PROV reading rooms.  For more information about passenger lists refer to the ‘selected passenger list series’ section of this PROVguide.

Index to Unassisted Inward Passenger Lists to Victoria 1852-1923

Index to Assisted British Immigration 1839-1871

Index to Outward Passengers to Interstate, U.K. and Foreign Ports, 1852-1923


Selected passenger list series held by PROV

Click on the links below for detailed information about the passenger list series:

VPRS 7666 Microfiche copy of Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (British Ports)

VPRS 7667 Microfiche copy of Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (Foreign Ports)

VPRS 13439 Microfiche copy of Inward Overseas Passenger Lists (New Zealand Ports)

These series contain the lists of vessels and their unassisted passengers arriving in Victoria from overseas ports.  The lists record information about the ship, details of each passenger and a summary of the passengers carried. The amount of information given for each passenger varied over time. Marital status, age and gender were usually recorded, and nationality and occupation were frequently included. 

VPRS 3502 Microfiche copy of Register of Assisted Immigrants from United Kingdom 1839 – 1871

The register contains the nominal and disposal lists of assisted immigrants arriving in Victoria from the UK. The nominal list usually gives details of each immigrant’s name, age, occupation, religion, native place, and whether he or she could read or write. The disposal list details what happened to the assisted immigrant after arrival: for example, the name and address of the migrant’s new employer, how long the migrant was contracted to work for them, their wages, whether this included rations, and the date the migrant left the depot. 

VPRS 3506 Microfilm copy of Outward Passenger Lists to Interstate, U.K. And Foreign Ports 1852 – 1923

These lists were created by the Department of Trade and Customs for the purpose of recording passengers leaving Victorian ports for interstate or overseas destinations.

Further information

For further information about passenger lists and immigration records held by PROV see:

PROVguide 52 Immigration Records

PROVguide 53 British Post World War II Immigration

PROV holds further records related to immigration and shipping on microfiche and microfilm.  These records are available in PROV reading rooms and do not have to be ordered.  See PROV’s guides to Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Victorian Archives Centre, and Microfilm, Microfiche and Online Resources at the Ballarat Archives Centre.

Marine Births, Deaths and Marriages Index 1853 – 1920

The Marine Index provides summary information about births, deaths and marriages registered by ships’ captains from 1853 to 1920 and submitted to the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The Index is available at PROV reading rooms and at genealogical collections around Australia.

Passenger list availability around Australia

Microfiche copies of unassisted (1852-1923) and assisted (1839-1871) inward passenger lists are also available at libraries and genealogical centres around Australia.

Search agents

PROV is unable to provide copies of records or undertake research in response to phone or written requests. If you are unable to visit a PROV reading room to view records or make copies, you can employ a search agent to undertake this on your behalf.  For details of search agents please consult PROVguide 15 Search Agents.

Passenger lists after 1923

Passenger lists for immigration to Victoria after 1923 are held by National Archives of Australia.  National Archives of Australia are also located in the Victorian Archives Centre reading room and their microfilm passenger lists are accessible in the microfilm area.

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