Civil Registration, Scotland

Find the birth, marriage and death records of your Scottish ancestors from 1855 to the present day using Scotland’s statutory registers.

What do I need to know before I start?

Try to find out:  

  • name(s)​ 

  • when they were born, married or died 

  • where they were born, married or died 

  • date and place of divorce 

  • date and place of civil partnership​​

What records can I find in The Mitchell: Registrars?

The records of births, marriages and deaths for all of Scotland have been digitally imaged.  Copies of these images, together with a full index, are one of the many resources available as part of the ScotlandsPeople network which you can access in the Registrars on payment of a daily fee of £15 per day or part thereof.   

 

These are the statutory registers of births, marriages and deaths in Scotland from 1 January 1855 when civil registration replaced the old system of registration by parishes of the Established Church (Church of Scotland). From 1855, registration became compulsory, regardless of religious denomination, and followed a standard format for each record type.

 

The records include:

  • births, marriages and deaths, 1855 to present 
  • divorces, 1984 - present 
  • civil partnership, 2005 to present
 

Scotland’s statutory registers are very detailed, much more so than those for England, Ireland or Wales. Those of 1855 are particularly full and a godsend for family historians everywhere. 

 

You will find the following information on Scotland's birth, marriage and death registers:

 

Birth certificates  

  • full name of child, sex of child 

  • date, place and time of birth 

  • parents' names (including maiden surname of mother) 

  • father's occupation 

  • name of informant and relationship to child 

  • date and place of marriage 1855, and from 1861 

  • information on siblings (1855 only) 

  • ages and birthplaces of both parents, their usual residence and date and place of their marriage (1855 only)  

 

Still-births are recorded from 1939 but are not available online. Extracts of still-birth records from 1939 onwards are available from National Records of Scotland for a fee. Due to the sensitive nature of still-birth registrations, these extracts are usually only issued to the parents of the still-born child. However, siblings of still-born children may apply, either with the express consent of a parent, or on their own behalf, where they can demonstrate that their parents are no longer alive. 

    

Marriage certificates    

  • ​couples' name, age, marital status, occupation, usual residence 

  • birthplaces (1855 and from 1972) date and place of marriage 

  • name and occupation of both fathers 

  • name and maiden name of both mothers 

  • names of witnesses and of officiating clergy 

  • former marriages of each spouse, plus number of children by those marriages (1855 only) 

 

Death certificates  

  • date, time and place of death 

  • deceased's name, sex, marital status, age, occupation, usual residence 

  • deceased's place of birth (1855 only) 

  • spouse's name

  • parents’ names, occupations and whether they are deceased 

  • cause of death, duration of last illness 

  • doctor’s name and details of the informant 

  • names and ages of children or age and year of death if the child pre-deceased the parent (1855 only) 

  • place of burial, the name of the undertaker and when the doctor last saw the deceased alive, were also included (1855 to 1860 only)

 

You may occasionally come across records with a note in the left margin: 'RCE' or 'Reg. Cor. Ent.' RCE stands for Register of Corrected Entries, or, from 1965, Register of Corrections, etc. If, after an entry in a register had been completed, an error was discovered or some other amendment was required as a result of new information, the original entry could not be altered. Instead, each registrar kept a register of corrected entries in which such amendments were written, originally after they had been approved by a sheriff. 

 

Civil Registration also includes ‘minor’ records of births, marriages and Scots abroad, which are recorded in: 

Foreign Returns

Marine Register

Service Returns

War Returns​

What other resources will help me find information?

Images of records for births up to 1913, marriages up to 1938, and deaths up to 1963, can be purchased on the ScotlandsPeople website. Discounted vouchers for this website can be purchased in person at Special Collections. 

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