Scottish Certificates

From the Family Tree Forum Reference Library

Birth Certificates

Over the course of time the details recorded on Scottish birth records has changed slightly. The register used to record the information has remained largely unchanged and an example of the column headings is shown below:

Image Crown Copyright HMSO. Birth Certificate Headings

From 1855 to the present day

All birth certificates should include the following information

  • Name
  • Sex
  • Date of birth
  • Time and place of birth
  • Name (and maiden surname) of mother
  • Name, rank, profession or occupation of father (if named)
  • Informants' details
  • Date and place of registration

Certificates issued in 1855 only

Also have the following additional information

  • Mother: age and place of birth
  • Father: age and place of birth
  • Siblings: the number and gender of parents' other children are recorded, whether living or deceased

Date and place of parents' marriage is recorded on certificates in 1855 and from 1861 to the present day.

Marriage Certificates

The details recorded on marriage certificates has changed little over the years, to find out what information relates to a specific time period see the list below.

From 1855 to the present day

The following information should be recorded

Bridegroom and bride

  • Name and marital status
  • Rank, profession or occupation
  • Residence
  • Date and place of marriage

Parents of the couple

  • Name, including maiden name of mothers
  • Rank, profession or occupation
  • Parent alived or deceased


  • Signature of witnesses (from 1922 onwards the addresses of the witnesses is also included)


  • Date and place of registration plus signature

Form of Marriage

  • Established Chorch of Scotland, Free Kirk, Licence etc


Bridegroom and Bride

  • Age of the couple are recorded

1972 to date

Bridegroom and Bride

  • The date and place of birth are recorded

Certificates issued in 1855 only may also show the names of any children of the couple by former marriages.

Death Certificates

An example of the column headings from a statutory death register entry are shown below

Image Crown Copyright HMSO. Example Scotland Death Certificate Headings

The information recorded on a death certificate and the dates of any changes are detailed as follows

1855 to present day

  • Name
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Rank, profession or occupation
  • Date, time and place of death
  • Age at death
  • Cause of death
  • Parents: name, occupation and "alive or deceased"
  • Doctor: name of doctor certifying the death
  • Informant: Qualification and signature
  • Date and place of registration plus signature of registrar


  • Doctor: when last saw deceased alive
  • Burial: Place and name of undertaker

1855 Only

Details of the deceased included this additional information:

  • Place of birth
  • How long in the district
  • The name and age of any surviving children or death details of children who died before their parents

Odds and Ends

Details of the deceased were changed as follows:

  • Date of birth 1966 to date
  • Duration of disease 1855-1964

Spouse details were recorded as follows:

  • Name of spouse 1855 and then 1861 to present

Informant details were recorded as follows:

  • Residence of informant 1855-1965 then 1972 to present

Ordering a BMD Certificate

Scottish Certificates (known as an "extract") can be obtained in a number of ways depending on the date and type of the event concerned.

The options available are:

Local Register Offices


The ScotlandsPeople website offers search and downloads of the following certificates. If you require a certificate within the dates shown, the site offers the easiest, quickest and cheapest method to obtain certificates:

Births 1855-1906

Marriages 1855-1926

Deaths 1855-1956

A visual introduction showing how to search the records and obtain copies of certificates can be found here:

General Register Office for Scotland (GROS)

The GROS can supply copy extracts for all events from 1855 to the present day. Charges vary according to the level of service selected ("standard" applications should take 5 working days, "priority" applications are supplied on a sameday/nextday basis).

Applications can be made as follows:

In person at New Register House, Edinburgh or

By Telephone, Post or Fax

Full details of current charges and service options are available by visiting Family Records Informationat the GROS website.

Local Register Offices

Unlike their English and Welsh counterparts the local offices within Scotland have a digitised records system. This allows most of the local registrars to supply copies for any event, regardless of whether it is within their district or not.

In effect it means that as well as ScotlandsPeople and the GROS there are over a hundred locations where you can obtain a copy certificate for family history purposes.
Links to the council registration services can be found by clicking any county name from the Scotland County Index Page

Scottish Records Back to Certificate tutorials