This is a new service. Your feedback will help us to improve it.


This page tells you what to expect when National Records of Scotland collects personal information. It applies to information we collect when you:

  • visit this website (including cookies, IP addresses, hostnames and search engine)
  • phone, email or send a complaint to us
  • want to access your personal information

It also explains when and how we disclose personal information.

This privacy notice covers this website:

Data controller

The data controller for the census is the Registrar General for Scotland. They can be contacted via our Data Protection Officer, using the address in the How to contact us section of this page.

How to contact us

If you have any questions about our privacy policy you can write to:

Data Protection Officer
National Records of Scotland
HM General Register House
2 Princes Street

Email: [email protected]

Changes to this privacy notice

We keep our privacy notice under regular review. This privacy notice was last updated on 31 October 2020.


Information that this website routinely collects falls mainly into two categories:

  • contact forms
  • website log files

Contact forms

You can use the contact form on our contact page to:

  • make an enquiry about census data
  • make a Freedom of Information request
  • report technical problems with the site
  • request a business contact with National Records of Scotland

You can also find a feedback form on most pages to allow you to give feedback about a particular page.

We will store and use the information we collect mainly for providing our services.

We will not:

  • share any personal information that we receive about individuals with other organisations for commercial purposes
  • use it for any marketing purposes which individuals have not agreed to

We may use non-personal information for business, research and marketing purposes. When we do this, we will make sure individuals cannot be identified and we will remove any contact information.

Possible reuses of non-personal information may include (but are not limited to):

  • a report published on the site listing all the Freedom of Information queries made in a given period
  • publication of previous Freedom of Information (FOI)/Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) releases
  • internal reports produced for National Records of Scotland staff listing any technical problems that have arisen with the website and steps taken to remedy them
  • marketing literature using anonymous quotes drawn from feedback given about the site

You do not need to include your name or contact details when you use our feedback forms to provide us with general feedback or information about any technical problems you may encounter.

We do, however, need you to include an email address when you use the main contact form so we can reply to you. We will only use your email address to reply to you and not for any other purpose.

For some enquires, you will need to include contact details. A Freedom of Information request, for example, will only be valid if a contact name and email or other contact address are provided.

We will not store information we collect from feedback forms on the website. Instead, it will be emailed to an internal service desk system accessible only by authorised National Records of Scotland staff.

We use a relay service to scan emails for spam and malware before they reach the service desk system.

Do not use the feedback forms on this site to send us confidential or security-related material. Emails that you send us, and those that we may send to you, are not secure because email messages can be intercepted.

Website log files

All websites produce log files that record user activity. Log files record which pages on the site users have visited and how many times. From this information, we can produce statistics that help us see how well the website is performing and identify areas for improvement.

Log files typically record the IP address and/or hostname of all users accessing the website. This allows us to tell the difference between unique visitors and repeat visitors. IP addresses and hostnames are not linked to any individual's personally identifiable information.

We will not make specific IP addresses and hostnames publicly available. They will only be used by website log file software to compile overall summary statistical reports on the performance of our websites.

Website log files are stored securely on the websites using good industry practice for safeguarding information and server functions.


Depending on your browser settings, this website may create and store small files in a specific directory on your computer. This will help with the good performance of the website.  These files are called 'cookies' and cannot harm your computer.

Find out more about the cookies we use

Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics to gather information about how people use this site. The information we collect helps us investigate whether the website meets users’ needs and evaluate how it can be improved.

Google Analytics stores information about:

  • what pages you visit
  • how long you are on the site
  • how you got here
  • what you clicked on

We do not collect or store your personal information (e.g. your name or address) so this information cannot be used to identify who you are. We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data.

Search engine

This website uses a search engine which is part of our content management system. We do not collect or use user-specific data within the search tool.

Security and performance

We use a third party service to help maintain the security, performance and availability of our websites. IP addresses of visitors to this website are processed to deliver this service. The information collected is not linked to any individual's personally identifiable information.

IP addresses and hostnames

An IP address is the numeric address of a computer. The IP address recorded on website log files is the address provided by your internet service provider's equipment and not your own personal computer's address.

Hostnames are similar in appearance to the domain names you see in URLs and email addresses. The hostnames recorded on website log files are those of the internet service provider's equipment that you are using to access the internet, and not your own computer's name or location.

Your internet service provider will keep records of which customer is using any IP address or hostname at any given time. This means it is theoretically possible to trace back activity shown on any website log file to a specific individual.

In practice, this can only be done with the explicit involvement of the internet service provider. Such a trace would only take place in the event of serious criminal misuse of the internet and would be carried out by the police.

We will not try to associate IP addresses and hostnames with individuals. In the event of serious criminal misuse of the website, the matter would be referred to the police for investigation.

When you contact us by phone, email or make a complaint

When you phone us

We do not collect any information from your phone line that could be used to identify you. We will only collect personal information that you consent to give us in order to deliver a service.

When you email us

When you contact us by email, we will keep your email and our response to it for business reasons, usually for no longer than 5 years. We will then destroy this information confidentially. 

When you make a complaint to us

When you make a complaint to us, we will ask for your full name and address, as well as for as much detail about the complaint as possible.

We will store this information in a file. The file will be restricted to specific staff handling the complaint within National Records of Scotland. We keep the material for 5 years and then destroy it confidentially.

In most cases, we will have to disclose the complainant’s identity to whoever the complaint is about in order to resolve the matter. If a person making a complaint would prefer to stay anonymous, we will do our best to ensure this, but it may not be possible to handle a complaint on an anonymous basis.

When you respond to a consultation

We sometimes run consultations to help us better understand user needs and improve our services.

When you respond to a consultation, we may ask for your name, email address and, where relevant, the organisation you may represent. We will not attribute your response to you unless you give us permission to do so.

We will usually keep your response for no longer than 3 years. We will then destroy this information confidentially.

Complaints or queries about our use of personal information

We take any complaints we receive about how we collect and use personal information very seriously. If you think that we collect or use information unfairly, misleadingly or inappropriately, please contact us. We also welcome any thoughts and suggestions for improving our procedures.

You also have the right to report your concerns to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). For more information visit the ICO website:

This privacy notice was written with accessibility in mind. It does not provide exhaustive detail of all aspects of our collection and use of personal information.

You can read more about how we keep census information secure and confidential.

We are happy to provide any additional information or explanation needed. Please send any request to us using the contact details at the start of this page.

Access to personal information

You can find out if we hold any personal information on you by making a ‘subject access request’ under the General Data Protection Regulation. If we do hold information about you we will:

  • provide you with a description of it
  • tell you why we are holding it and how long for
  • tell you who it could be disclosed to
  • tell you your rights concerning this data
  • where possible, let you have a copy of the information in a useful form

If you want to make a subject access request, you must do this in writing - either by email, letter or by using our form.

Find out more about requesting information.

We will not provide you with a copy of your personal information if we already make it available under a legal obligation or if a restriction on access applies. For example, census records are closed for 100 years.

If you find that the information we hold about you is incorrect, you can make a request for this to be corrected. In addition, you can ask us to delete the information. For some information we hold, however, exemptions apply to rights to correction or deletion.

Requests to take down content

You can ask for content to be removed from our websites. We will only do this in certain cases. For example, if it:

  • breaches copyright laws
  • contains sensitive personal data
  • contains material that may be considered defamatory or obscene

You will need to send us details of the content and explain why you think it should be removed. When we receive a valid request, we will temporarily remove the content from public view on the website pending the review process.

Takedown requests are assessed by a panel of National Records of Scotland staff with relevant experience and chaired by a senior manager.

All assessments will be completed within 30 days of the request being received and we will let you know the outcome.

Any decision to remove content is at our discretion. This does not affect your statutory rights to request information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the General Data Protection Regulation. Read our takedown and reclosure policy.

Disclosure of personal information

In most cases, we will not reveal personal information you give us without your permission. We might need to do so when we:

  • investigate a complaint
  • seek a reference
  • apply for a disclosure

We will tell you about this beforehand, unless the disclosure is required by law, to prevent and detect crime or to produce anonymised statistics.

Links to other websites

This privacy notice covers but does not cover links within this site to other websites.