Departure Records – From Europe to America

Departure Records – From Europe to America

Records of immigrant departures from European ports

Most immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe went to America through the ports of Bremen and Hamburg. In 1830, the emigration flow from Germany began to increase considerably. Before that date, almost all emigrants embarked for America in the ports of Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, or Le Havre. From the beginning of the 19th century the net of ports and transports became a multinational weft, being the French ports and those of North Europe the ones which cover the most of transoceanic transport (Marseille, Le Havre, Bremen, Hamburg, Liverpool), specially those which covered a direct way to USA.

The big navigation companies were owned by English, French and German capitals. English navigation companies (Prince Line, Dominion Line, White Star Line, Cunard Line, and Anchor Line) and the Germans (Hamburg America Line, Lloyd Bremen) used to stop in European ports. On the years 1912-1913, when the migratory flux was in the top, few less than a 50% was covered by those English navigators. And Liverpool was one of the ports which covered most of the overseas transport.

Passenger lists

Some passenger lists from the most important emigration ports have been conserved: Hamburg, Bremen, Liverpool, Le Hâvre, Genoa and Naples. Unfortunately, only the Hamburg records were rescued from the devastation of the war and the bureaucratic reparation. Recently, searchers of the “Immigrant Ancestors Project” have found passenger lists from smaller ports like Lisboa and Oporto (Portugal); Llames in Spain, La Rochelle in France; and even from Naples, related to other years before the massive immigration. The information recorded in these documents includes the immigrant’s name, age and port of entry, and sometimes more detailed descriptions of passengers, as for instance, their place of birth.


  • Antwerp Police Immigration Index, 1840-1930 – The dossiers list all aliens living in Antwerp who were registered with the police. Places of origin are included in the indexes beginning in 1886. Many of the foreigners came from the Netherlands, Germany, and Poland. But there were also many Italians, Spanish and South American. Many of these immigrants were only passing through Antwerp, working to raise the money for passage to America. The index was to help find individuals in the dossiers which were created to monitor foreigners living in Antwerp.

British Isles

  • England: Passenger Lists and Other Records
  • Looking for records of an emigrant – This is a brief guide to help you find records of someone who emigrated from Britain. The best place to look is in the archives of the destination country, as there are relatively few records of people leaving Britain. There are many references in documents in The National Archives to people emigrating to other countries, but no single index of names. Most of our records are about emigration as a subject rather than about particular emigrants.
  • Scottish Emigration Database – The Scottish Emigration Database currently contains the records of over 21,000 passengers who embarked at Glasgow and Greenock for non-European ports between 1 January and 30 April 1923, and at other Scottish ports between 1890 and 1960.
  • Irish Passenger Lists Research Guide – Finding Ship Passenger & Immigration Records – Ireland to America, a Bibliography of Books, CD-Roms, Microfilm & Online Records by Joe Beine.
  • Irish Emigration Database – Today 40 million people in the US alone proudly acknowledge their Irish heritage. Now you have the opportunity to access a huge database of emigrants who sailed from Ireland in the nineteenth century. This database has been complied in collaboration with the Balch Institute Philadelphia, and the Ellis Island Restoration Commission, and the Battery Conservancy, New York from the original passenger lists of ships, which sailed from Ireland and the UK.


  • Danish emigration database – Emigration lists compiled by the Copenhagen Police from 1869 to 1940. These lists give the name, last residence, age, year of emigration and first destination of the emigrant from Denmark. The records are made available for the years 1869 to 1908 (394.000 emigrants), compiled by the Danish Emigration Archives and The City Archives of Aalborg.
  • Emigration records from Vejle 1879-1887 – The emigration records from Vejle hold information about 4.109 emigrants from the whole of Denmark from 1879 to 1887. These emigrants have bought their tickets from two emigrant agents in Vejle, the Mouritzen Brothers, who represented HAPAG (the Hamburg-America Line). The records consisting of two registers from Vejle Byfogedarkiv. gives the following informations about the emigrant: name, place of last residence in Denmark, succession number in the registers and date of registration.


  • Applications for passports in Bordeaux – French immigrants
  • Lists of passengers of the crossings having taken place of 1864 to 1936, on the transatlantic lines of Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. These invaluable documents are of great richness, as well as on the esthetic level as on information they give. You can access all the lists between 1864 to 1936, without exception. France’s most important cruise line was the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT) based in Paris with its home port being Le Havre at the French Channel coast.
  • Research Possibilities
  • The archives of Guillaume Apheça contain precious information, in particular registers of departures and payments for Argentina from 1856 to 1913. The Euskal Argentina Association has retranscribed this information. Information about 15 000 emigrants in the registers of the Basque emigration agent Guillaume Apheça (1828-1919) are available for consultation in a simplified version.
  • Police certificates issued in Toulouse, 1888-1889: This work contains certificates of good conduct (good behavior and morals) issued by the police at the request of those people who wanted to apply for their passport. These people lived in the department of Haute Garonne (31) and these documents are conserved in the Toulouse Departmental Archives. Unfortunately there are very few documents conserved at this moment.


  • German immigration
  • Hungarians, Croatians, Romanians, Slovaks and Czechs – The changing face of Europe makes the tracing of early Hungarians, Croats, Slovaks, Czechs (Bohemians), Romanians and others difficult. As these immigrants arrived in America from the then Hungarian Empire, they were labelled Hungarians or Germans by the immigrant agent regardless of their ethnic background. The 1848-9 revolution in Hungary gave rise to the first wave of migration to North America. The numbers were few in relation to what would come for, in the 1880s, the number of emigrants leaving the country rose dramatically.
    Leaving home was sometimes done through the port of Trieste. But the more favoured route was through Hamburg or Bremen.



  • Passenger lists Holland-America Line, 1900-1974 – This Collection will include records from 1900 to 1974.
    This collection consists of passenger lists for the Holland-America Line (Holland Amerika Lijn), which transported numerous refugees from war-torn Europe to the United States prior to 1941. The passenger lists show the name of the ship, its destination, and the date it left port. The passenger’s name is included, along with various details of passage arrangements, fees, etc. Passenger lists are available for the following range of dates: 3 May 1900 through 14 October 1974. Original records are available through the Rotterdam City Archive (Gemeentearchief te Rotterdam), Netherlands. This collection is being published as images become available. The text is handwritten in Dutch in a ledger type register. Passengers are listed by passage contract number.
    Passenger lists from the voyages of the Holland-America Line, a Steamship Company of the Netherlands that covered the transatlantic routes mainly between the ports of Rotterdam and New York, and occasionally calling on the ports of Boulogne-sur-mer, Plymouth, Southampton, Boston and Halifax. The names of the vessels were: Potsdam, Rotterdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Statendam, Ryndam, Veendam, and Volendam. It was necessary to keep a record of all the passengers boarding on to the company’s different steamships traveling from the Netherlands to North America.The data in these records may be reliable as far as the person that was giving the information; the spelling depended on the recorder.



We can divide Spanish emigration into two time periods.

  • Early to 1821
  • 1821 to present-more or less.

Emigration from Spain to Latin America 1500s-1700s

  • Emigrants from La Rioja, Spain
  • Actas de licensia para ausentarse en ultramar : 1845-1931 Betanzos (La Coruña). Ayuntamiento. Licenses granted to residents of the Municipality of Betanzos, La Coruña, Spain to emigrate to places outside of Spain–primarily to Cuba and Argentina.Document bundle 319 includes lists of foreigners residing in Betanzos in 1859 and 1860 and bundle 3390 includes a few miscellaneous documents from 1926 and 1931 about Galician immigrants in Argentina. Digitized by FamilySearch.
  • Consular Records of Emigrants, 1808-1960 – This collection includes digital images of consular records of Spaniards abroad. The record content covers: passport registers, nationality cards, register of citizens, military records, civil registration of births, marriages, and deaths. These records are currently housed at the Archivo General de la Administración in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain. The text of the records was written in Spanish. This collection is being published as images become available.
    Spain has an extensive network of Consulates and Embassies abroad that provide a series of services for Spaniard citizens and for foreigners that want to travel to Spain. Some of these services include the registration of births, marriages, and deaths of Spaniards living abroad, residence certificates, citizenships, passports, notary public documents, visas for foreigners, and others. The civil registration created at a consular office has the same validity and follows the same legal codes as the one in the mother country. One month after the civil event has been registered in a consulate abroad, a duplicate record is sent to the Central Civil Registry in Madrid, from where copies can be requested.
  • Llanes, Cantabria and Santander – Embarkment list, Immigrant Ancestors Project.
  • Spain, Cádiz, Passports, 1810-1866 – Passport registers, passport files, and miscellaneous records from the Historical Provinces Archives in Cádiz, Spain. Some of the passports were issued for internal use in Spain (salvoconductos o pasaportes para el interior) and others were issued to travel from Spain to other countries (pasaportes para el extranjero o ultramar). This collection is being published as images become available.
  • Portal Migratory Latin-American Movements Portal Movimientos Migratorios Iberoamericanos
    It gives free access to records related with Spanish immigration to Latin America, in contemporary times; documents of both sides of the Atlantic Ocean are digitized in this portal. These are some of the digitized documents in that collection:
    – Passenger Lists and Immigrants from the Spanish Consulate in Veracruz.
    – Shipping Licenses for Cuba and Puerto Rico.
    – National Alien Records in Mexico.
    – Applications for permits of residence in Dominican Republic.
    – Passengers Book, of the Police of Montevideo, Uruguay.
    – Registry of Citizenship from the Spain Consulate in Rosario, Argentina
    One of the advantages in this portal is that it is possible to make a search only with the family name, not being necessary to have more information.


Some emigration records are found at the national archives level, such as a passenger lists at the Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo in Lisbon. Records available at the Immigrant Ancestors Project website.