British Columbia Death Registrations (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Access the Records
British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993 .
This article describes a collection of records at
British Columbia,  Canada
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Flag of Canada
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Location of British Columbia, Canada
Record Description
Record Type Deaths
Collection years 1872-1993 (1987-1991 not included)
Languages English
Title in the Language
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
British Columbia Division of Vital Statistics, Victoria

What is in the Collection?

The registration of deaths began in 1872. This collection contains death registrations, 1872-1986 and 1992-1993. First Nations death registrations, 1917-1956 (with delayed First Nations death registrations, 1916-1950); and overseas casualties, 1940-1945. Due to privacy legislation by the government of British Columbia, some images have been restricted from viewing.

Collection Content

Sample Image

The death registrations are recorded on individual, printed forms. They consist of completed statements regarding deaths in British Columbia submitted to district registrars and registered by the registrar or director of Vital Statistics. Each death registration should include a supporting record called “Medical Certificate of Death,” which states the cause of death as determined by a physician or coroner, but this statement was not regularly included until 1896 and not with every registration until 1912.

Depending on the time period, the medical certificate may be a separate form or printed on the same form as the death registration. Death certificates contain information from the original registration records and are only available through the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency.

A stillbirth may have been registered as either a birth, death, or both. The First Nations death registrations, begun in 1917, had special forms created in 1943 but which were discontinued in 1956.

British Columbia became a province of Canada in July 1871, and registration of vital events began in 1872. The only persons excluded from the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Act of 1872 were Chinese and Aboriginals. This was changed by an amendment in 1897, stating the registration would apply to all races. However, the Act was amended in 1899 to once again exclude First Nations from provincial registration until another amendment was passed in 1916, which authorized registration of First Nations to begin again in 1917 with information submitted monthly.

From 1917 to 1956, the First Nations death registrations were recorded in separate volumes. After 1956, the registrations were recorded with the main series. Beginning in 1872, official government registration of deaths applied to the whole province of British Columbia except for the Chinese (until 1897) and First Nations (until 1917).

Early records are very incomplete, chiefly due to the fact that a majority of the population lived great distances from the registry offices and communication was difficult. The “Overseas Casualties, 1940-1945” series contains 3,423 deaths of British Columbians who died overseas during World War II.

Registration of deaths began in order to keep a written record of the population for use by the government.

Provincial vital registrations are considered a reliable source in family history research because they contain a record of an event usually registered very near the time the event occurred. The reliability, of course, depends on the accuracy of the informant.

FamilySearch indexers did not identify death certificate numbers. In order to track down the death certificates in the Family History Library microfilm collection, which are referenced in this online database, compare's British Columbia Death Index: 1872 to 1990 ($).

When independently indexed these records, they indexed certificate numbers (which FamilySearch omitted). Thus, it is necessary to refer to's subscription index, in addition to FamilySearch's index, in order to find death certificates in the Family History Library's microfilms.

Death registrations are the best source of death information in British Columbia beginning in 1872.

What Can this Collection Tell Me?

Death registrations may contain the following information:

  • Name, age, and gender of deceased
  • Date and place of death
  • Date and place of birth
  • Cause of death
  • Marital status
  • Parents' names
  • Name of spouse
  • Name of physician
  • Registration district name or number
  • Date and number of registration
  • Religious affiliation

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor.
  • The approximate date of death.
  • The place where your ancestor died.
  • The names of family members and their relationships.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒ Select the appropriate "County/District"
⇒Select the appropriate "Locality/Sub-district," which will take you to the images.

Look at the images one by one, comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.

What Do I Do Next?

When you have located your ancestor’s death record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Your ancestor might have lived in a different place at the time.
  • The clergyman may have recorded the birth, marriage, or death in a different district. In early years, clergymen traveled over a wide territory, often more than one district or county. Look for your ancestor's records in registers for nearby districts or counties.
  • Your ancestor may have used a nickname, or used a different surname, or the registrar spelled the name wrong.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, plea se email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993." Database with Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Citing Division of Vital Statistics, Victoria.

Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993.

How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.