National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Statutory Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages

Statutory Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages

The Statutory Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages date back to 1855 and the introduction of compulsory civil registration.  They include all births, deaths and marriages that have taken place in Scotland up to the present day.  Local registrars make the entries in the registers and District Examiners inspect them to ensure a high standard of record-keeping.  The register volumes are held in New Register House in Edinburgh which was purpose-built for the records and opened to the public in 1861.

Photograph of a group of registrars taken on the front steps of New Register House in 1930.

Today the records are available as index-linked digital images on our ScotlandsPeople website, in the ScotlandsPeople Centre and at Local Family History Centres. To protect the privacy of living persons there are cut-off dates for images of the record entries on the Internet of 100 years for births, 75 years for marriages and 50 years for deaths.

You can also order an official extract (or certificate) from the registers.

This guide has separate pages on:

Statutory Registers of Other Countries

Our Useful Websites - Births, Deaths and Marriages page includes links to the statutory indexes and records of other countries.

Further reading

Sinclair, Cecil, The Statutory Registers of Births, Deaths and Marriages from ‘Jock Tamson’s bairns: a history of the records of the General Register Office for Scotland’ (Edinburgh, 2000) (88Kb pdf)

The detailed annual reports of the Registrar General for Scotland, 1855 to 1919 are available on Histpop - the Online Historical Population Reports website which also includes essays on specific topics. If you have problems with the site you can access Histpop at this secondary location.

Seton, George, 'Practical analysis of the Acts relating to the registration of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland (17 & 18 Vict c.80; 18 Vict c.29; and 23 & 24 Vict c.85): with an appendix containing the statutes, sheriff's forms, tables of burghs, sheriffdoms, fees, penalties, etc; and a copious index'.  5th edition (William Blackwood and Sons, 1861)

Bisset-Smith, G T,  'Vital registration: a manual of the law and practice concerning the registration of births, deaths and marriages'. 2nd edition (William Green and Sons, 1907)

For information on current procedures for registering births, deaths and marriages please go to the Registration area of this website.