Records relating to Italian migration held in Sydney – Fact sheet 100

With over 340,000 Italians having migrated to Australia, the National Archives holds many records which document Italians and their relationship with the Commonwealth government. Whether you are searching for a particular Italian person, or researching the general Italian experience in Australia, this fact sheet will help you identify relevant records held in the Sydney Office of the Archives.


Passenger lists

Passenger lists are usually arranged by the date, name of the ship, and the port of arrival or departure. The office in Sydney holds passenger lists for the port of Sydney from 1923 onwards in microfilm format. Records covering other ports, including Newcastle, Fremantle, and Sydney Airport, are also available. See Passenger records held in Sydney for details of holdings.

Migration documents

Many intending migrants applied for assisted passage to Australia during the post-World War II migration boom. The records associated with applications for assisted passage, known as migrant selection documents, consist of a number of documents (including a completed application form), and often include a passport-size photograph of the individual. The Sydney Office holds a number of series of non-British European migration selection documents.

General immigration correspondence

The series C3939, a general correspondence series created by the New South Wales Branch of the Department of Immigration, contains valuable information about post-World War II migration schemes, and the welfare and progress of migrants in Australia.


Citizenship Index

The Sydney Office holds a microfiche copy of the Department of Immigration Citizenship Index. This index is arranged alphabetically, listing all applicants for naturalisation Australia-wide since 1904. Information such as date of birth, date of arrival in Australia, and date of naturalisation is usually included in an entry. The index will also give a file number and location (by state) of the naturalisation file. Because the index contains information not in the open access period, it is not available for public access and our staff will need to consult it on your behalf.

Naturalisation files

The Sydney Office holds naturalisation files for persons naturalised in New South Wales after 1951. Naturalisation files for the years 1904–51 are held in the National Office in Canberra.

Naturalisation certificates

Microfiche copies of duplicate naturalisation certificates for the years 1904–37 are held in the Sydney Office. These certificates are arranged in numerical order. The certificate number can be identified from the Citizenship Index.

Alien registration

There have been two distinct periods when the Commonwealth government has required all 'aliens' living or entering Australia to register with local authorities. The first period of compulsory registration commenced in 1916 with World War I, the second period extended from 1939 to the 1960s. Registration forms were gathered by Customs or Immigration officials, or by local police in the case of resident aliens. Sometimes these forms include photographs and fingerprints. The documents for persons registered as aliens in New South Wales during both periods are held by the Sydney Office.

Internment during World War II

More Italians than any other nationality were interned in Australia during World War II. Italians in New South Wales were particularly observed due to the activities of the Fascist Party in Sydney. In addition Australia was responsible for more than 18,000 Italian prisoners of war transported from the European theatres of war. The Sydney Office holds many records relating to internees and internment.

Other records

References to Italians and Australians of Italian descent will appear in many records held by the National Archives. These include post office records, naval correspondence regarding visiting ships, ASIO investigation files, and photographs of the Australian Overseas Information Service (AOIS).

You can search the collection using the keyword terms such as 'Ital*', a surname, or a particular subject, place name or event involving Italians, to find relevant records. 

Records held by other offices of the Archives

See the following fact sheets for information about Italian migration to the states of Queensland and Western Australia:

The following fact sheets contain information on the holdings of other offices of the National Archives relevant to the study of Italians and Australians of Italian descent.




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