National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Statutory Indexes of Births, Deaths and Marriages

Statutory Indexes of Births, Deaths and Marriages

The statutory indexes from 1855 to the present day have been computerised since 1989. Today they include links to digital images of the register entries.

The index entry includes name, registration district, registration district number and entry number.

  • Birth index includes mother’s maiden name from 1929 (this data has been added to some earlier entries)
  • the death index includes age at death and from 1974 mother’s maiden name where provided by the informant (and for a limited number of entries between 1855 and 1973). 
  • the marriage index includes spouse’s name from 1929 (this data has been added to some earlier entries).

The index records the year of registration not the year of birth, death or marriage.  For example, a child born in late December will almost certainly be registered in the following year.

Letter Codes Used in the Indexes  
AF Armed Forces (at military stations abroad)
AN Air Register
AR Adoption Register
CL Consular Return
DD Declarator of Death

Foreign Adoption

 ("AR" Registration Suffix and Registration

District name "NRH")

FN Foreign Register
HC High Commission returns
MIN Minor records (used from 1975)
MIN/WR War Register

Marine Register (for births and deaths on

British-registered merchant vessels at sea

in any part of the world where one of the

child's parents or the deceased person was

usually resident in Scotland)

OA1 Overseas Adoption
OA2 Overseas Adoption
OS Overseas Event
PO Parental Order
PR Parental Order Register


Up to 1965 registrars had to compile indexes for each volume of births, deaths and marriages. This example from the registration district of Rathven shows one of the pages at the back of the register volume for 1855 (our reference 1855/164).

An index page from the Registration District of Rathven

The Registrar General for Scotland's staff in New Register House compiled a general index of births, deaths and marriage with separate volumes for males and females. This pdf copy of Registrar General’s Office – Scotland. Index Branch. Instructions to Staff provides further details.  For example, “anonymous” is used in the index if there is no name recorded and more than one index entry is required for the "tee names" or "to names" used by the fishing communities in the north-east of Scotland.