150 years ARoS

Scotland’s Registrars and the Association of Registrars of Scotland (ARoS)

150 years ARoS

May 2015 was ARoS 150th anniversary. Our organisation started in 1865; 10 years after, in 1875, registration became a statutory matter in Scotland. We celebrated with an Annual General Meeting and dinner in Edinburgh as our colleagues did 150 years ago. We invited Jan Otten and Steve Heylen from NVVB and VLAVABBS as guests and they spoke about registration in the Netherlands and Belgium respectively.

Registration of Deaths

Also in 2015 came a big change in the registration of deaths. Following on from the Harold Shipman case it had been planned for some time to put a system in place to review causes of death.

Dr Harold Shipman was a General Medical Practitioner who was found guilty of murdering fifteen of his elderly patients. The real number is suspected to be many more

 While the review was seen as essential, there was a balance between that and the effect that any delay could have on family. Reviews are random in most cases (although we can refer for review where we cannot reach an agreement with the doctor about any issues). In some cases the completion of the registration can be delayed by up to three working days however there is a process to advance the registration where there is a good reason, e.g. religious grounds or travel arrangements.

Marriage ceremonies

In 2014 a great change came in effect regarding the place where a marriage can take place.

Until 2002 we could only hold civil marriages in our own offices. From 2002 we could hold them in licenced premises. Usually that meant a hotel although some unusual places did get licences. We held ceremonies on beaches, clearings in woods for example even then. Then, in 2014, the need for a licence ended and this meant that so long as we considered it reasonable we could go anywhere. Scotland is full of beautiful scenery so it’s right that we can marry people in the best of it.


The general public still seemed to hold some misconceptions about civil marriages. We decided to get a working group together to release a press release with National Records of Scotland to establish what we can do. It seems there was a real need to educate the public about all that we can offer. Civil marriages conducted by registrars can include a range of enhancements such as handfasting, unity candle ceremonies and quaich ceremonies (where a two handled cup is used to pass a wee dram of whisky between the couple and family members). We also encourage readings, music and personal ceremonies tailored to suit individuals. No better place to marry than in Scotland.

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