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

This guide contains advice on where and how to look for Scottish and Irish birth, marriage and death records. The majority of these records are with the respective general register office or national archive, though some are available online.

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

Scottish records

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

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 (£).

Births, baptisms and marriages (before 1880)

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

Birth, marriage and death certificates (from 1855)

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

Irish records

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.

Northern Irish birth, marriage and death registers and certificates

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. If you find an entry in the registers you can order a certificate.

Indexes to and registers of civil records of births, marriages and deaths (mid-19th to mid-20th centuries) in Ireland

Use the website to search for online copies of indexes to civil records of births (1864-1916), marriages (1845-1941) and deaths (1864-1966) and of the registers of births (1864-1916), marriages (1870-1941) and deaths (1878-1966).

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.

Birth, marriage and death certificates (from 1864) for Ireland

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

Transcriptions of birth, marriage and death records

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

Further reading

The following publications are available at the The National Archives’ Library. They may also be available to buy from The National Archives’ Bookshop.

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

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