Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


‘Particular Search’

Advice from the General Register Office for Scotland

Prices in these lists are quoted in pounds sterling (GBP), and the General Register Office for Scotland reserves the right to vary them without notice.

1. If the search for a particular event is likely to be time-consuming because you do not have enough identifying details about the person, or if the search to be made is a general one, such as is needed to trace a family tree, we cannot do it for you. You would need to search the records yourself (see our leaflet S3) or perhaps arrange for someone else to search on your behalf. (Our leaflet S5 may be of some assistance to you, but we can take no responsibility for the quality of work done for you by anyone advertising in it.). We cannot try to trace the whereabouts of any living person, and can only suggest that in such a case you might wish to consider advertising in the Scottish local press.

2. If you supply sufficient identifying information, we will search our records for any entry you specify, (though we cannot reveal confidential information about adopted persons’ birth-parents except in certain defined circumstances, such as where adopted persons themselves ask and they are over 16.) If the information you give seems insufficient for us even to begin searching, we will tell you and will make no charge. We can usually trace an entry if you give us the full name of the person born, deceased or married, and the date and place of the event, but if the person concerned has a fairly common surname we will also need some other identifying information, such as parentage. For the statutory and parish registers, if we cannot trace the entry in the year you specify we will try also the two years before and two years after. If you require us to search more than 5 years please specify, in order, the periods you would want searched. Because they are not fully indexed, we will not start to search for a death or burial in the pre-1855 parish registers unless you know the precise place or the parish in which the event occurred. We will not start a search in the 1841-1901 census records without the name and the address of the householder. If we begin a particular search, we will charge you for the work we do whether or not we are successful in finding the entry you asked for. If you apply here in person we charge a particular search fee of £3 for a search in the registers of births, deaths, marriages, adoptions or divorces which have a computerised index. If you apply by post, telephone or fax, or if you ask for a search in records which do not have a computerised index, we charge a particular search fee of £5 for each 5 years to be searched. Telephone orders can only be taken for certificates from the statutory registers from 1855. We do not accept orders by ordinary email (but see paragraph 5).

3. If we find the entry you asked for, we can sell you one or more extracts of this entry. An extract is an officially certified copy of all the information in the entry, often just called a ‘certificate’, the commonest example being a birth certificate. We can sell you an abbreviated certificate of birth if you specially ask for this instead. For each extract or abbreviated certificate that we issue, following the particular search for that entry, we will charge you a document fee of £8. Most extracts are produced photographically from microform of the register entry. With regard to the extracts of old parish registers, the standard of record keeping varied considerably from parish to parish and most entries contain relatively little information.

4. Should you require an extract urgently you can request our priority service. We will undertake to despatch your document(s) by first class mail or air mail where appropriate, within 24 hours, that is by the working day following receipt of your application. The priority charge is applicable to each document ordered. Should you require more than one, you should send £23 for each document (£21 if you place the order in person). This service applies only to full extracts from statutory registers (relating to births, deaths and marriages from 1855, divorces from 1984 and the adoption records that we hold) and not census or parish records. If we cannot trace the required event, we will tell you by means of a letter posted within the 24 hours. The search and priority fee will be incurred, but we will refund the balance of your money separately.

5. Computerised indexes to historical material, that is the statutory indexes of births from 1855 to 1903, marriages from 1855 to 1928 and indexes of deaths from 1855 to 1953, the old parish register indexes of births/baptisms and banns/marriages from 1553 to 1854 and the 1881, 1891 and 1901 census indexes, are available on the ScotlandsPeople website ( Digital images of these statutory registers, and the 1891 and 1901 census returns are also available. Further information, including prices is available on the website.

6. Here is an example of how the prices work, for an order of a single copy of a full extract of your own entry in a register of birth (your birth certificate):

Order made in person
at New Register House Order by post
telephone or fax Order over Internet
Particular search to find the right entry,per entry GBP 3 GBP 5 GBP 6
Document fee, per certificate GBP 8 GBP 8 GBP 10
Total GBP 11 GBP 13 GBP 16
Fee for priority service, if requested GBP 10 GBP 10 n/a
Total for priority service GBP 21 GBP 23 n/a

7.We accept payment by these methods:

Order made in person at Order by post Order by telephone Order by Internet
New Register House or fax

Switch Switch Switch
Visa Visa Visa All major credit cards
MasterCard MasterCard MasterCard
Sterling cheque with cheque card Sterling cheque
Travellers’ cheque in sterling British postal order

8. If you apply in person at New Register House, you may pay in cash, but please do not send us cash by post. If you pay by Switch, Visa or MasterCard please quote your card number (plus the cardholder’s name, signature and expiry date as they appear on the card) since this enables us to charge you exactly the right amount. (We cannot tell whether you will need to pay a document fee for an extract until we have actually traced the entry). If you order by telephone or fax, you must pay by Switch, Visa or MasterCard. Orders by telephone (0131 314 4411) will only be taken for extracts from the statutory records from 1855. Payments by sterling cheque, should be crossed, and made payable to ‘The Registrar General’. If when paying by cheque you overpay us by more than £4, we will refund the overpayment by a cheque in pounds sterling, but it is not economic for us to make refunds of smaller amounts. For Internet ordering consult our website.

9. We are proud of our performance in meeting the targets we have set ourselves, and we try hard to keep to these:

If you apply for a certificate in person at our public counter, we shall post it off to you – or make it available for you to collect here if you prefer – WITHIN FIVE WORKING DAYS.

If you apply for a certificate by post, telephone or fax, enclosing the right information and the correct payment, we shall post it back to you WITHIN TEN WORKING DAYS of your order arriving with us, or if you apply by Internet WITHIN FIFTEEN WORKING DAYS.

If you apply by post, fax or Internet for information contained in the old parish registers or the open census records, we shall post the information back to you WITHIN FIFTEEN WORKING DAYS of your letter arriving with us.

If you request our priority service we shall post your certificate to you on the working day following receipt of your application. If you apply for a priority certificate in person at our public counter, it will be ready for collection the next working day, or will be posted if you prefer this. If we fail to meet this target, we shall refund your £10 priority fee.

If you find there is any difficulty or delay in getting the certificate you want, please tell us:

– If you applied at the counter, ask for the Public Counter Supervisor or telephone 0131 314 4433

– If you applied by post, telephone or fax write to the Extract Services Supervisor or telephone
0131 314 4446

-If you applied over the Internet contact the email address on the pay-per-view website


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