The National Death Index (NDI) is a catalogue of death records that is used in data linkage for epidemiological studies. Its use is strictly confined to AIHW Ethics Committee approved health and medical research. The NDI contains person level records of all deaths occurring in Australia since 1980 obtained from the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriage in each state and territory.

The AIHW maintains a secure physical and computer environment for the linkage of the NDI with other datasets for research purposes, along with other measures to protect the privacy of individuals and the confidentiality of information. For more information, see the AIHW's Customer care charter.

NDI records are supplemented with cause of death information using a once-off data linkage with the NMD. This enhancement enables research that requires both fact of death (whether a person died) and cause of death (what the person died from).

The National Death Index (NDI) is a Commonwealth database that contains records of deaths registered in Australia since 1980. Data comes from Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages in each jurisdiction, the National Coronial Information System and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Linkage variables
Surname (including maiden names, where appropriate)
Given names (up to three given names)
Sex
Date of birth

Address at time of death

Fact of Death (FOD) variables
Date of death
State/Territory where death was registered
Year of death registration
Cause of Death (COD) variables
Underlying cause of death (as ICD9 codes until 1996, as ICD10 since 1997)
Other causes of death (as ICD10 codes since 1997)
Other variables
Indigenous status
Marital status
Region of address at time of death

Note: Cause of death variables are updated annually while all other variables listed above are updated monthly.

  • Linkage variables are used to link datasets to the NDI. These variables may be returned to the researcher if they have permission to view identifiable data and if they undertake the clerical review* after the linkage.
  • FOD variables are standard variables usually released to recipients of NDI linkage results, for projects that have obtained approval from the AIHW Ethics Committee.
  • COD variables can be accessed if the variables have specifically been requested in the application and the AIHW Ethics Committee has approved the release of those variables.
  • Other variables are not usually released.

* Clerical review is the process where a person reviews the record pairs generated through the linkage (i.e. cohort records linking to NDI records) and for each record pair decides whether to accept or reject the link.

Cause of death (COD) data currently available at the AIHW (from Sept 2016 onwards)

The AIHW has access to COD unit record data for deaths registered up to and including 2014. For further information on COD refer to Deaths data.

Data storage and confidentiality

The AIHW maintains a secure physical and computer environment for the linkage of the NDI with other datasets for research purposes, along with protocols to protect the privacy of individuals and the confidentiality of information (refer to AIHW privacy policy).

Accessing the NDI

  • Access to the NDI is usually for data linkage purposes. Please email the Data Linkage Unit if you wish to access the NDI for data linkage purposes as part of health and/or epidemiological research purposes.
    If you are interested in death information in tabulated format, which doesn't involve a linkage to NDI unit record data (e.g. to obtain a count of persons who died of a certain condition within a state or particular region), refer to information on the National Mortality Database (NMD). For inquiries, please contact .
  • To access unit record data from the NDI for data linkage purposes, approval is required from the AIHW Ethics Committee.
  • To formally apply to the AIHW Ethics Committee, an application needs to be lodged on the AIHW Ethics Online System (EthOS).
  • For detailed information about accessing the NDI see the NDI data provision package (337KB PDF).