National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Registration Services During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Registration Services During The Covid-19 Pandemic

To prevent unnecessary in-person contact which might spread COVID-19, registration offices are currently closed to members of the public. Below are answers to questions you may have about the registration of a death or still-birth, birth, marriage or civil partnership.

Registration of Deaths and Still-births

When will remote registration of deaths and still-births begin?

Remote registrations is now live across Scotland, following the granting of Royal Assent to the UK emergency coronavirus bill on Wednesday March 25, and Commencement Regulations being made on Thursday March 26 which brought provisions on remote registration into force.

How will information be given for a death or still-birth registration?

The doctor providing the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD), or the Certificate of Still-birth, will ask the person who will be making funeral arrangements which registration office they intend to deal with. The doctor will then send a copy of certificate to the specified registrar electronically, also copying in the person making funeral arrangements. This is to ensure that the registrar receives a copy of the MCCD, without which the death cannot be registered.

Once the doctor has confirmed that the MCCD has been sent to the registrar, the person who will register the death - the informant - should contact the registrar by telephone or other electronic means such as e-mail, to make arrangements to begin the death registration process (657 KB PDF). Information about how to contact local authority registration offices is available on their website, as well as the NRS website. When you make contact you will have the opportunity to make a first appointment to start the registration, and the registrar will explain the process.

Guidance for registering a death during the COVID-19 pandemic (657 KB PDF)

(Families can now also ask their funeral director to serve as an informant, though funeral directors are not obliged to do so.)

The registrar will:

  • Ask for contact details from the informant for their upcoming remote appointment, including a telephone number and/or e-mail address (this is simply to ensure that there contact details are collected together in one place).
  • Ask for information about the deceased’s birth and any marriage(s) in order to look for any entries on the Scottish Family History System.
  • If any relevant life events for the deceased person took place outside Scotland, the registrar will ask if the informant has documents they could scan or photograph and e-mail to the office to assist in gathering the appropriate information. These documents should be in English, or accompanied by a translation into English.

The registrar will then use the information gathered to complete a template of how the register entry will look.

After this template has been completed, the informant will be asked to check that the information to be entered in the register is correct. This can be done by sending a copy of the sample register page by e-mail, or if the informant cannot access e-mail, reading out the information listed in the different sections over the phone.

The informant will not be able to attend the registration office in-person at any point, including to sign the register page. Instead they will be asked to tell the registrar the usual form of their signature, and how it usually reads e.g. A Baxter, A J Baxter, Alex Baxter and so on.

The registrar will then write that signature in the appropriate space on the register page, followed by the phrase “(Transcribed)”, indicating that the informant has remotely attested to the page and agreed that it is accurate on the date specified. Register entries completed in this way will have the same legal force as entries ordinarily signed by the informant in ink.

What happens after the registration has been completed?

If the informant is not a funeral director serving on behalf of a family, they will be asked to confirm which funeral director will be dealing with funeral arrangements.

If the informant wishes, a scanned copy of the Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14) can then be e-mailed to the funeral director, to allow funeral arrangements to be made. (No burial or cremation can go ahead in Scotland without a Form 14 having been issued).

If the informant does not yet know which funeral director will be making arrangements, the Form 14 will be e-mailed or sent by post to the informant, as they prefer.

An abbreviated death extract and a copy of the Registration Privacy Notice will be posted to the informant in every case. These documents – the extract from the Register of Deaths, commonly known as the death certificate, and the Privacy Notice – show the details of the death, and provide the informant with details of how data contained in NRS records will be used and protected.

If the informant has purchased a full death extract/extracts, for which there is a fee of £10.00 per copy (which will be payable by card over the phone), these too will be posted to the informant.

Tell Us Once (TUO)

If the informant would like to use the Tell Us Once service, which is a service that lets informants report a death to most government organizations in one go, the registrar will take additional information from the informant by phone or whichever electronic means of communication has been used, and complete the TUO process as normal.

If the local authority offers only the Tell Us Once (TUO) ‘Capture’ service, or if the informant does not wish to give information for TUO, a Registration or Notification of Death form (BD8) will be sent to the informant so that they can notify relevant government organisations of the death directly.

During the period of the pandemic, the registration process may involve multiple contacts between registrar and informant before it is completed, but the registrar will do their best to make the registration as straightforward and timely as possible in the current circumstances.

Registration of Births

When will I be able to register the birth of my child?

During the pandemic period, NRS has decided to postpone the registration of births. We will work with local authorities to re-commence the registration of births but it is not possible to give a date for that at the moment. We are also working with UK government departments to ensure benefit claims which rely on birth registration data can be progressed.

Will I be able to register my new-born baby with my family doctor if the birth has not been registered yet?

After registration of a birth, form EC58 is given to the informant(s) to enable the child to be registered with the National Health Service.

As birth registration is being postponed, parents may wish to have a discussion with their medical practice and advise that they will not be able to provide a form EC58 until the birth is registered. It may be possible to make an interim arrangement, such as to register the child as a ‘temporary resident’, until the birth is registered and the EC58 is issued.

Will the fact that I have not registered my child’s birth affect my claim for Child Benefit?

NRS is working with UK government departments to ensure benefit claims which rely on birth registration data can be progressed.

Registration of Marriage and Civil Partnerships

Why has our marriage or civil partnership been postponed?

To help delay the spread of Covid-19, a decision was taken that until further notice, no Schedule (the document signed at a marriage or civil partnership ceremony) may be issued. This is because marriage and civil partnership ceremonies constitute public gatherings, which are no longer allowed in the pandemic period.

NRS will take advice about when it is safe to lift the restriction on the issue of Schedules, and therefore the resumption of marriages and civil partnerships.

Can we still lodge notice of our intention to marry later in the year?

During the period when the restriction on issuing Schedules for marriages is in place, registrars have been instructed not to lodge notice forms received in the office.

The exception to this instruction is where a couple wish to apply to the Registrar General for a dispensation to marry or civilly partner. (This is to allow people in very serious circumstances, such as one person being terminally ill, or being required for immediate overseas deployment with the armed forces, to marry or civilly partner quickly).

What should we do if there is a pressing need for us to get married, or civilly partnered, quickly?

Contact your local registration office who will discuss your situation with you, and explain the process for applying to the Registrar General for a dispensation to marry.

We have already lodged marriage or civil partnerships notice forms. Will we have to do so again?

Depending on when your marriage or civil partnership is re-arranged, you should discuss with the local registrar whether or not it will be necessary for you to complete new forms.