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Coronavirus: Registration of Births, Deaths & Marriages

Coronavirus: Registration of Births, Deaths & Marriages

As the lockdown restrictions lift, we see a number of public services recommencing from 29 June 2020 and this includes the registration of births, marriages and same sex civil partnerships. The registration of deaths has always been possible throughout lockdown by email and telephone. Here, we take a look at what to expect for the registration of births, marriages and same sex civil partnerships. We are in Phase 2 of Scotland’s route map through and out of the Coronavirus crisis.

Check Arrangements for your Local Authority

It will be far from business as usual so do check with your local authority about what specific arrangements they have in place to manage enquiries and registrations. Is it by appointment? Do they have specific guidelines in place for entering and leaving their premises? Be prepared and be patient. It will be busy, there will be backlogs and the staff will be finding their feet with a new way of working too. All local authorities will have specific guidance for registration services on their websites. This will be an invaluable resource of information on what to expect and what documentation you need to produce.

Registration of Births

There have been babies born during lockdown who haven’t yet had their births registered so understandably there will be a backlog. Registration of a birth ordinarily has to be done within 21 days of the birth of the baby.

If you are married then parental rights and parental responsibilities will be automatically granted to the father of the child. Unmarried fathers must jointly register the birth with the mother to obtain the same parental rights and responsibilities. With COVID 19 impacting on our daily lives, factor in how you might have to make arrangements to achieve joint registration if you are not living together.

If registration is not carried out jointly then an unmarried father can still acquire parental responsibilities and rights either by raising court action or by both parents entering into a Parental Responsibilities and Rights Agreement that is subsequently registered. 

Registration of Marriage and Same Sex Civil Partnerships

For any couple looking to tie the knot, this must be a modest event for now. It is important therefore to be realistic about when, where and what you want in addition to just how many are on the guest list.

We are now In Phase 2 of Scotland’s route map so:-

  • Ceremonies can take place outside with a maximum of 8 people from 3 households.
  • There is no scope for indoor ceremonies at this point.
  • Remember, there are very specific formalities that must be complied with before you can marry or enter into a same sex civil partnership. Assuming a couple had already complied with the lodging of a marriage notice before lockdown and a marriage schedule can be issued by the registrar, then it is possible to marry at this stage.

As and when we move into Phase 3 there should hopefully be scope for ceremonies taking place indoors but still with limited numbers attending.

The way in which we access our public services is changing and attending at the registrars building to pick up forms or order copy certificates is just not possible at the moment. All necessary forms and guidance are available to download and these can be accepted by post or email. This may be a more efficient way to operate anyway. The National Records of Scotland website is an excellent resource for both guidance and all forms - “

If you need any more information on the registration process, compliance with the formalities of marriage or how to acquire parental rights and parental responsibilities then we are able to help.

Angela Wipat is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and Legal Director in our family law team, based in our Perth office.

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About the author

Angela Wipat
Angela Wipat

Angela Wipat

Legal Director


For more information, contact Angela Wipat or any member of the Family team on +44 1738 472763.