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Recent Changes to Registration Procedures in Scotland

A number of changes in the registration of births and deaths and in the procedures for marriages and civil partnership registrations now apply as a result of the implementation on 1 January 2007 of Part 2 of the Local Electoral Administration and Registration Services (Scotland) Act 2006 (LEARS Act).

Part 2 of the LEARS Act was the first comprehensive change to registration legislation since 1965 and has resulted in offering the public more choice and greater flexibility, as described below.

Freedom to Register a Birth or Death at any Registration Office

One of the main changes allows births, stillbirths and deaths that occur in Scotland to be registered at the office of any registrar of births, marriages, deaths etc. in Scotland.  Previously, there were restrictions: the registration would have had to be done in the registration district in which the event occurred or in the registration district of usual residence.  This change has removed that inconvenience. 

Abbreviated Extract of Death

From 1 January 2007, local registrars in Scotland have been able to issue an Abbreviated Extract of Death in respect of each death that occurs and is registered in Scotland.  This is a new product.  There already exists an equivalent for births in Scotland. 

The Abbreviated Extract of Death is an official document and is probative, i.e. it is sufficient evidence of the death to which it relates, which should be sufficient information for an executor to close a bank account - but a full extract (see below) would most likely be needed by an insurance company.

An Abbreviated Extract of Death does not reveal the cause of death or details of the usual address or parentage of the deceased person.  If such information is required, then a full extract of death can be purchased from either the local registrar or from the National Records of Scotland, as is presently the case.

An Abbreviated Extract of Death is issued free of charge by a local registrar to the informant at the time of registration of the death.  That means less cost to the bereaved.  If required, additional Abbreviated Extracts of Death may be purchased from either the local registrar or from the National Records of Scotland.

Before the implementation date of 1 January 2007, GROS wrote to financial institutions, the insurance industry, funeral directors and others to inform them of this change.

Marriages and Civil Partnerships in Scottish Waters

In Scotland, couples who want to marry may do so anywhere that a religious celebrant agrees or, for civil marriages, in registration offices or in places approved for civil marriages, e.g. castles, hotels etc.  Apart from inland waters, such as lochs, canals, harbours or parts of rivers, such places tend to be on land.  But now, marriages and civil partnership registrations can take place in Scottish waters, i.e. the waters around the coast of Scotland from the low water mark out to the 12 mile limit.

The LEARS Act builds upon existing procedures for the approval of places by local authorities and attendance of registrars for civil marriages and civil partnerships.  So, couples intending to marry or form a civil partnership on Scottish waters should contact the local authority nearest to the relevant part of the coastline.  The Act also provides a clear definition of how a marriage (civil or religious) or a civil partnership that takes place in Scottish waters should be registered.

This new power to have marriages and civil partnerships on Scottish waters creates opportunities for tourism operators in the widening marriage and civil partnership markets and extends where people may be married or form a civil partnership from hotels, castles, lochs and mountains to the seas around the coast of Scotland.

Page last updated: 11 May 2011

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