I'm looking to get a birth certificate of a family member who was (according to another relative who seemed not entirely certain) born in Malacca in the 1930s and died in Kuala Lumpur in the 1970s.

At the time of his birth, Malacca would have been part of the Crown Colony of the Straits Settlements.

What's the appropriate authority to approach regarding obtaining a birth certificate? At first glance it looks like the JPN/NRD (National Registration Department) but I know that in some countries historical birth records are handled differently after a certain point, and that in this case the birth would have been handled by the colonial-era British administration.

With regards to his nationality - post-1963, I'm almost certain he would be a Malaysian citizen, but at the time of his birth I'm uncertain whether he was a British subject, British protected person or a subject of another power. I'm also not sure about the citizenship of his parents, who may have been migrants from China.

(An additional complication here is that the relative in question was adopted and I'm not sure of exact details of his name as registered at birth, but I'll figure that out when I get to it...)

  • 2
    Hi ajd, good question. What were the nationalities of the parents? For example, births of British nationals abroad may have been registered with the British consulate. The same may be true of other countries.
    – Harry V.
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 6:03
  • That's a very good question. In fact, the reason I'm interested in getting the certificate is to confirm whether or not he was a British subject who would have become a Citizen of UK and Colonies. I expect the possibilities are that his parents were (a) British subjects with ancestry in Malacca, (b) British protected persons who were subjects of one of the other Malay rulers, or (c) migrants from the Qing Empire or early-ROC-era China. This is probably something I could find out more about by asking relatives for further details, of course. The fact that he was adopted doesn't help...
    – ajd
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 6:15
  • 1
    Would any of the resources listed in the answers to my question help? genealogy.stackexchange.com/q/6564/1006
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 21:15
  • @JanMurphy I don't think any of the registers there cover general births in the Malayan colonies, unfortunately. My grandfather wasn't the son of British colonists or anything so I doubt his details would have been registered with the UK government in any way, just the local colonial government.
    – ajd
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 8:08
  • My comment was meant to address this point: "but at the time of his birth I'm uncertain whether he was a British subject, British protected person or a subject of another power."
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 18:00

1 Answer 1


I have had a similar situation myself with a relative born in Singapore in 1924. The National Archives states that they "do not hold the internal administrative records of governments of former colonies, which generally remained in place at independence." This would suggest an early port of call would be the Malaysian Embassy. Having said that, at this time in 2020 most governments are focussing on other things and may not respond.

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