National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

How to Order a Certificate (Also Known as an Official Extract)

How to Order a Certificate (Also Known as an Official Extract)

Please read the guidance below before ordering birth, death or marriage certificates (official extracts from the registers).  You can also download a portable document format (pdf) copy of our Leaflet S2: How to order a certificate (also known as an official extract) (159 KB pdf) and forms.

How to apply 

There are various options for obtaining a certificate of an entry from the statutory birth, death, marriage, adoption, divorce, civil partnership and dissolution registers, the Old Parish Registers and census records.

Order online

You can search for, and order, birth, death, marriage, divorce, civil partnership and dissolution of civil partnership, census and Old Parish Register certificates online at our ScotlandsPeople website.

Searching the indexes is free and certificates cost £12 per certificate. You will need a credit or debit card to use this service and we will send your extract within 15 working days. 

Priority Orders

A priority certificate is one that is needed urgently. An additional fee will be charged per certificate for priority processing. Priority orders received before 13:00 on a working day will be dispatched the same day; and orders received after 13:00, at weekends, or during public holidays will be reviewed within 1 working day and dispatched the same day.

Apply in writing

We will send your certificate within eight working days. You can use the downloadable versions of the forms below:

  • Form SU3 if you are applying for a certificate from the statutory birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, civil partnership and dissolution, death registers or the Old Parish Registers
  • Form SU9 if you are applying for a certificate from the 1841 to 1911 census records
  • Form SU19 if you are applying for a no trace divorce letter.  This is not an official certificate.  We issue a formal letter in support of a divorce application through the courts as evidence of an individual's marital status within Scotland.  This letter has to cover the period from the date of marriage to the present date.  Both parties’ names, date and place of marriage must be provided.

Apply to a local registrar

Certificates from the Scottish records may also be obtained from local registrars of births, deaths and marriages.  You can find their contact details from our Directory of Registrars in Scotland or the local authority website. 

Information required

Full name of individual(s) concerned, date and place of the event. If a common surname, further details such as parents’ names are required.  Abbreviated certificates are available for births and deaths at the same charge.

In the case of service deaths we require the individual’s rank, regiment and number. 

For adoption records we require the full adoptive name, date of birth and adoptive parents’ names.  For recently granted adoptions, please quote the court and date of the adoption order.

For certificates from the census records we require the census year, name and address.

For certificates from the Old Parish Registers we require for:

  • Births and baptisms - full name, date or year, parent’s names and place of birth (if known)
  • Proclamation of banns and marriages - full name of both parties, year and place of marriage (if known)
  • Deaths and burials - full name, date or year of death and precise place of death

You can also order an official extract from the 1939 National Identity Register.

Fees and charges (including postage)

For the latest fees and charges (including postage) please see the Ordering certificates page of the ScotlandsPeople website.

How to pay

We accept payment by these methods:

  • Online - credit or debit card
  • By post - sterling cheque, British postal order.  Please do not send cash by post.

If paying by credit or debit card please quote your card number, cardholder's name, signature and address, start and expiry dates, security code (the three digit number on the reverse of the card) and, for Maestro transactions, the issue number where applicable.  This will allow us to charge the correct amount whether the requested event is traced or not. (Please note that we do not accept American Express cards.)  For security reasons we do not recommend sending credit or debit card details by email.

Payments by sterling cheque or British postal order should be crossed, and made payable to the ‘Scottish Government'.  If payment is by cheque or postal order, we will refund, by cheque, any excess funds remitted over £4 (£5 for international orders). We will not automatically refund monies below these amounts.

Typed extracts

Certificates will normally be produced electronically from images of the actual register page entry.  It is only in cases where the entry has been altered as a result of an RCE or contains a clerical error, that a typed certificate may need to be issued.

Divorce certificates

Please note that we issue divorce certificates in redacted form. This means that any sensitive information such as children’s details or financial arrangements given in the Decree will not be included in the certificate. This redacted certificate is still valid for legal purposes.

Should the data subject or legal representative of the data subject wish to obtain an unredacted version, they will need to provide a copy of their ID (passport, driving licence etc.) and copy of proof of address (utility bill etc.). This can be done via email to [email protected] at the time of ordering the certificate.

The receipt of the documentation will be recorded and then the copies of the ID and proof of address will be confidentially destroyed thereafter.

Your responsibilities under data protection laws

Please note that certificates (official extracts) are subject to Crown copyright and may only be used in accordance with our terms and conditions. You must also comply with your obligations under the General Data Protection Regulation, Data Protection Act 2018 and the Human Rights Act 1998. The contents of any certificate containing personal data about any living individuals should not be reproduced without obtaining the permission of those individuals first. For more information see the guidance on ScotlandsPeople.