How to look for records of... Births, marriages and deaths in Scotland and Ireland

This is a brief guide to researching birth, marriage and death records for a person in Scotland or Ireland. The majority of these records are with the relevant general register office or national archive, though some are available online. They are not available at The National Archives. This guide will help you to find out if the information you are looking for exists and, if it does, where to find it or more information about it.

What do I need to know before I start?

Birth, marriage and death certificates for Scotland or Ireland cannot be viewed or ordered at The National Archives.

Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths started in Scotland in 1855 and parish registers started around 1553.

Many Irish records have not survived and people tracing their Irish ancestry may need to refer to local records and archives as well as national sources. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths started in Ireland in 1864. Before this births were recorded in parish registers, many of which have been lost, destroyed, or are missing for other reasons.

Whether for Scotland or Ireland, it will help your search if you know:

  • the name of the person’s parents, spouse or next of kin, where applicable
  • the approximate date of the birth, marriage or death
  • the religious denomination of those involved

What records can I see online?

Scotland: statutory registers and parish registers (1553-2009)

Search birth, marriage and death registers online at ScotlandsPeople. Many registers are available to view online and you can download images (£).

Northern Ireland: birth marriages and death registers

Search the General Registrar’s Office Northern Ireland for births more than 100 years old, marriages 75 more than years old and deaths more than 50 years old. Searches are free but there is a charge to view results.

There are no birth, marriage and death records for Ireland available to see online.

What records can I find at The National Archives at Kew?

The National Archives does not hold birth, marriage or death certificates or parish records for Scotland or Ireland.

What records can I find in other archives and organisations?

Ireland: birth, marriage and death certificates (from 1864)

Contact the General Register Office of Ireland and the General Register Office for Northern Ireland to obtain copies of birth, marriage and death certificates.

Scotland: birth, marriage and death certificates (from 1855)

Order an official extract from the registers from the National Records of Scotland (£).

What other resources will help me find information?


Search for a birth, baptism or marriage in Scotland on the FamilySearch website – this primarily covers events before 1880.

Search the index of Ireland civil registration for births and deaths from 1864 to 1958 and marriages from 1845 to 1958 and various other records from 1619 to 1898 on the FamilySearch website.

Search transcriptions of birth, marriage, and death records on the Irish Family History Foundation’s Online Record Search System (£).


Some or all of the recommended publications below may be available to buy from The National Archives’ Bookshop. Alternatively, search The National Archives’ Library to see what is available to consult at Kew.

John Grenham, Tracing your Irish ancestors 4th edition (Gill & MacMillan, 2012)

Bruce Durie, Scottish genealogy (The History Press, 2009)