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Photograph of Reverend Robert Small holding two babies, 1902 (Catalogue reference: COPY 1/458/220)

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 Archivesthe official government archive of England, Wales, and the United Kingdom. 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?

    • Try to find out:

      • the person's name (and name of their 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 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.

Did you know?

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.

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.

Many Irish records have not survived. Therefore, people tracing their Irish ancestry may need to refer to local records and archives as well as national sources.