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Scottish referendum

On this page you can find out about the Scottish independence referendum.

If you are looking for guidance for campaigners at the referendum, please visit our guidance for campaigners at referendums page.

Latest updates

  • Spending by campaigners who spent £250,000 or below at the referendum


    We have published the spending returns for registered campaigners at the Scottish Independence Referendum that spent £250,000 and under in the referendum period.

    View details of campaigner spending | Read our press release

    Leave to pay 

    Registered referendum campaigners had to ensure that all invoices for referendum expenses had been sent by the supplier within 30 days of the poll; and paid within 60 days of the poll. 

    It is an offence for the campaigner to pay an invoice after these deadlines unless they have applied for and been granted ‘leave to pay’ by the Commission. We will grant leave to pay if, on the facts of the case as set out by the campaigner, we believe they had a ‘reasonable excuse’ for missing the deadline.

    We have received one leave to pay application to date from a campaigner spending under £250,000 on campaigning at the referendum. The summary details are:

    Campaigner Invoice value Date of application Outcome To be paid by
    Business for Scotland Ltd £4,359.60 24/11/2014 Granted 11 December

  • Our report on the Scottish independence referendum


    The Scottish independence referendum was well run, with high levels of voter satisfaction in the voting process. 

    Our report identifies important lessons from Scotland about how to run future referendums successfully, including the expected referendum on further devolution in Wales and a possible referendum on UK membership of the European Union.

    Read our full report on the Scottish independence referendum (PDF)

Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013

The Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013 provided for a referendum on Scottish independence to take place and set out the detailed rules for the conduct of the referendum. 

Find out more about the Act on the Scottish Parliament website

Memorandum of understanding with the Chief Counting Officer

We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chief Counting Officer (CCO) for the referendum.

The memorandum outlined how we and the CCO dealt with areas where our responsibilities met to ensure that the referendum was run efficiently, effectively and in the best interests of the voters and campaigners.

Our advice on the referendum question and spending limits

On 30 January 2013, we published our views on the Scottish Government's proposed independence referendum question. We also set out our advice on what campaign spending limits at the referendum should be.

Our advice on the referendum question and spending limits

Our advice on the proposed referendum question

We recommended that the referendum question be amended to "Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No"

The question we were asked to assess was: "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"

You can read our full report and find out more below:

Our advice on campaign spending limits for the referendum

We set our detailed advice to the Scottish Government on the spending limits for campaigners at the referendum. You can read our full report below:

Additional information

You can view minutes from discussions about the independence referendum at Board meetings held on 16 and 24 January 2013. Various Board papers that were prepared for discussion at those meetings are also available.

Our views on the referendum on independence for Scotland

Below you can find statements and briefings we have issued since UK Government's announcement on the Scottish referendum in January 2012. These include our views on legislation, responses to consultations and press statements.

Our views on legislation

Below you can find briefings outlining our views on amendments at different stages throughout the progress of the Referendum Bill.

Stage 3 Amendments briefing

Stage 2 (Day 2) Amendments briefing

Stage 2 (Day 1) Amendments briefing

Stage 1 written evidence to Referendum Bill Committee

Our response to Scottish Government proposals for a Referendum Franchise (Scotland) Bill - January 2013

On 7 December 2012 the Scottish Government invited us to give comments on their policy proposal and initial draft bill for extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds at the referendum.

Our briefings and statements

Progress towards the referendum - September 2013

With less than a year to go until polling day, we published a report on progress being made with preparations for the referendum.

We found that preparations are on track to deliver a well-run poll for voters.

Update on public awareness activity - September 2013

We have issued an update to the briefing we published in June 2013, providing more on what we will be doing to encourage 15-17 year olds to register at the annual canvass.

Briefing on political literacy and the Scottish Referendum - June 2013

This briefing provides information on sources of information and guidance for anyone interested in developing young people's political literacy around the referendum on independence for Scotland.

Referendum agreement - October 2012

We issued a statement in response to the referendum agreement between the Scottish Government and the UK Government.

Statement on Scottish referendum question assessment - July 2012

Responding to a proposal from the three main opposition parties in Scotland that the Electoral Commission should assess a question submitted to it by a panel of experts we issued the following statement:

Statement on Scottish Government's referendum announcement - May 2012

On Friday 11 May, the Scottish Government put out a press release on the Commission’s role at the Scottish referendum following its consultation on the proposed referendum.

Our response to the UK Government's announcement on the Scottish referendum - January 2012

We responded to the UK Government's announcement on the Scottish referendum with the following statement:


Note to Scottish Affairs Committee - July 2012

At a recent evidence session the Scottish Affairs Committee invited our views on the issues that campaigners would need to consider if they wish to set up voluntary arrangements for disclosing information about funding and/or spending before the start of the referendum period. 

Response to Scottish and UK Government’s consultations on the Scottish referendum - March 2012

We published a single response to the consultation papers on a Scottish referendum from the UK Government (Scotland’s constitutional future) and the Scottish Government (Your Scotland, Your Referendum).

Our response to the Scottish Government launching their consultation on the Scottish referendum - January 2012

On 25 January the Scottish Government launched their consultation on the Scottish referendum (Your Scotland, Your Referendum). Read our response below:

Elections & referendums