Country of birth of mother (BPFP)

Latest release
Census of Population and Housing: Census dictionary
Reference period


This variable indicates the country in which a person’s mother was born.


All persons


Country of birth of mother is coded using the Standard Australian Classification of Countries (SACC), 2016. The categories are listed in groups below. The full list is available from the Data downloads on this page. 

1 Oceania and Antarctica

 1Oceania and Antarctica
  10Oceania and Antarctica, nfd
   1000Oceania and Antarctica, nfd
  11Australia (includes External Territories)
   1100Australia (includes External Territories), nfd
   1102Norfolk Island
   1199Australian External Territories, nec
  12New Zealand
   1201New Zealand
   1300Melanesia, nfd
   1301New Caledonia
   1302Papua New Guinea
   1303Solomon Islands
   1400Micronesia, nfd
   1403Marshall Islands
   1404Micronesia, Federated States of
   1406Northern Mariana Islands
  15Polynesia (excludes Hawaii)
   1500Polynesia (excludes Hawaii), nfd
   1501Cook Islands
   1503French Polynesia
   1506Samoa, American
   1512Wallis and Futuna
   1513Pitcairn Islands
   1599Polynesia (excludes Hawaii), nec
   1600Antarctica, nfd
   1601Adelie Land (France)
   1602Argentinian Antarctic Territory
   1603Australian Antarctic Territory
   1604British Antarctic Territory
   1605Chilean Antarctic Territory
   1606Queen Maud Land (Norway)
   1607Ross Dependency (New Zealand)

2 North-West Europe

 2North-West Europe 
  20North-West Europe, nfd
   2000North-West Europe, nfd
  21United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
   2100United Kingdom, Channel Islands and Isle of Man, nfd
   2103Isle of Man
   2104Northern Ireland
  23Western Europe
   2300Western Europe, nfd
  24Northern Europe
   2400Northern Europe, nfd
   2402Faroe Islands
   2408Aland Islands

3 Southern and Eastern Europe

 3Southern and Eastern Europe
  30Southern and Eastern Europe, nfd
   3000Southern and Eastern Europe, nfd
  31Southern Europe
   3100Southern Europe, nfd
   3103Holy See
   3107San Marino
  32South Eastern Europe
   3200South Eastern Europe, nfd
   3202Bosnia and Herzegovina
   3206North Macedonia
  33Eastern Europe
   3300Eastern Europe, nfd
   3308Russian Federation

4 North Africa and the Middle East

 4North Africa and the Middle East
  40North Africa and the Middle East, nfd
   4000North Africa and the Middle East, nfd
  41North Africa
   4100North Africa, nfd
   4107Western Sahara
   4108Spanish North Africa
   4111South Sudan
  42Middle East
   4200Middle East, nfd
   4202Gaza Strip and West Bank
   4213Saudi Arabia
   4216United Arab Emirates

5 South-East Asia

 5South-East Asia 
  50South-East Asia, nfd
   5000South-East Asia, nfd
  51Mainland South-East Asia
   5100Mainland South-East Asia, nfd
  52Maritime South-East Asia
   5200Maritime South-East Asia, nfd
   5201Brunei Darussalam

6 North-East Asia

 6North-East Asia 
  60North-East Asia, nfd
   6000North-East Asia, nfd
  61Chinese Asia (includes Mongolia)
   6100Chinese Asia (includes Mongolia), nfd
   6101China (excludes SARs and Taiwan)
   6102Hong Kong (SAR of China)
   6103Macau (SAR of China)
  62Japan and the Koreas
   6200Japan and the Koreas, nfd
   6202Korea, Democratic People's Republic of (North)
   6203Korea, Republic of (South)

7 Southern and Central Asia

 7Southern and Central Asia
  70Southern and Central Asia, nfd
   7000Southern and Central Asia, nfd
  71Southern Asia
   7100Southern Asia, nfd
   7107Sri Lanka
  72Central Asia
   7200Central Asia, nfd

8 Americas

  80Americas, nfd
   8000Americas, nfd
  81Northern America
   8100Northern America, nfd
   8103St Pierre and Miquelon
   8104United States of America
  82South America
   8200South America, nfd
   8207Falkland Islands
   8208French Guiana
   8299South America, nec
  83Central America
   8300Central America, nfd
   8302Costa Rica
   8303El Salvador
   8400Caribbean, nfd
   8402Antigua and Barbuda
   8406Cayman Islands
   8411Dominican Republic
   8421Puerto Rico
   8422St Kitts and Nevis
   8423St Lucia
   8424St Vincent and the Grenadines
   8425Trinidad and Tobago
   8426Turks and Caicos Islands
   8427Virgin Islands, British
   8428Virgin Islands, United States
   8431St Barthelemy
   8432St Martin (French part)
   8433Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
   8435Sint Maarten (Dutch part)

9 Sub-Saharan Africa

 9Sub-Saharan Africa 
  90Sub-Saharan Africa, nfd
   9000Sub-Saharan Africa, nfd
  91Central and West Africa
   9100Central and West Africa, nfd
   9102Burkina Faso
   9104Cabo Verde
   9105Central African Republic
   9107Congo, Republic of
   9108Congo, Democratic Republic of
   9111Cote d'Ivoire
   9112Equatorial Guinea
   9125Sao Tome and Principe
   9127Sierra Leone
  92Southern and East Africa
   9200Southern and East Africa, nfd
   9222St Helena
   9225South Africa
   9299Southern and East Africa, nec

 Supplementary Codes

0Supplementary codes
 00Supplementary codes
   0000Inadequately described
   0001At sea
&Not stated 
 &&Not stated 
   &&&&Not stated
VOverseas visitor 
 VVOverseas visitor
   VVVVOverseas visitor

Number of categories:

  • One-digit level: 12
  • Two-digit level: 39
  • Four-digit level: 293

See Understanding supplementary codes for more information.

Question(s) from the Census form

In which country was the person’s mother born?

In which country was the person’s mother born?
In which country was Person 1's mother born? If the person does not know their birth mother, and has a second parent, please include the country of birth of the second parent here. If the person has same-sex parents, include the country of birth of one of the two parents here. This information is collected from everybody, even children whose parents have already provided their country of birth. This avoids making assumptions about family relationships. Mother's country of birth Australia England New Zealand India Philippines Vietnam Italy Other (please specify)

How this variable is created

Country of birth of mother (BPFP) is a person variable that is created based on the response to country of birth of mother question. On the paper form, respondents may either use a mark box to indicate Australia or write the name of any other country in the text field. On the online form, the question uses a combination of mark boxes for the most frequent responses expected, accompanied by a text field to capture all other responses. The options are ordered based on the relative number of responses received in the 2016 Census.

Any typed country of birth response will also appear as an option for that person’s country of birth of mother.

The majority of responses for country of birth of person are captured automatically from the mark box response. Written responses are coded using a combination of automatic reading and coding processes. The remaining responses require manual coding processes when they cannot be coded or derived automatically.

If a person:

  • uses a former country name, it is coded to the current country name (for example, Siam would be coded to Thailand)
  • has marked Australia and given a text response, the responses are accepted in the order they appear on the form and the extra response is rejected
  • does not answer the question, and a mother has been identified for the family unit on the same Census form, then the mother’s birthplace is coded as the mother’s country of birth, for that respondent.

BPFP is coded using the SACC.  If a response is not listed in the classification, it is coded to 'Inadequately described'.

History and changes

A question relating to BPFP was first asked in the 1921 Census, but not included again until 1971 and has been included in all Australian censuses from 1971.

Prior to the 2001 Census, respondents were asked to write in their mother's birthplace as a text response.

From 2001 to 2011, the question was simplified to a simple mark box with two options for either Australia or Overseas. This was done following the introduction of a question on a person's ancestry.

For the 2016 Census, the question format was changed to again allow respondents to provide details for the country of birth of their mother where it was not Australia. Respondents were asked to use a mark box to respond for Australia, or a text field to specify any other country.

For the first time, the 2021 Census included instructions to provide guidance on situations where the birth parent is unknown and there is a second parent, or the person has same-sex parents.

There have been changes to the SACC for 2021:

  • 3302 'Czech Republic' has been changed to 'Czechia'
  • 9226 'Swaziland' has been changed to 'Eswatini'
  • 3206 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' has been changed to 'North Macedonia'
  • 2402 spelling of 'Faeroe Islands' has been changed to 'Faroe Islands'

Data use considerations

Data on country of birth provide important information on ethnicity when used with Ancestry multi response (ANCP), Language used at home (LANP) and Religious affiliation (RELP).

The non-response rate for Country of birth of mother (BPFP) was 5.6% in 2021. This is a decrease from 6.7% in 2016.

Related variables and glossary terms

Data downloads

Country of birth of mother classification

Back to top of the page