A majority "Yes" vote on Sept. 18 will answer the question of Scottish support for independence, and raise plenty of other questions in the process, not just for those who live in Scotland, but for its large community of citizens living abroad.

Here's what Scotland's referendum to separate from the United Kingdom means for people born in Scotland and living elsewhere:


If you were born in Scotland and you're living in Canada, you won't be able to vote in the independence referendum.

Only current residents of Scotland will be allowed to vote, according to the Scottish government. Exceptions will only be made for armed forces and service personnel working abroad. Citizens from other EU countries currently residing in Scotland are also allowed to vote.

Essentially, anyone 16 years or older who is living in Scotland right now can cast a vote in the referendum.

What happens if Scotland votes "Yes"?

If Scotland votes to become independent from the United Kingdom, the country would begin negotiations to separate from the U.K., with a targeted independence date of Mar. 24, 2016. (http://scotreferendum.com/questions/why-should-independence-happen-in-march-2016/) Current Scottish Parliament leader Alex Salmond would run the country's independence negotiations ahead of the next Scottish election in May, 2015. Whoever is elected in 2015 would be the first leader of an independent Scotland.

The full impact of a "Yes" vote is tough to gauge at this point, particularly when it comes to issues like currency and how various federal services would be divided up.

But for Scots living abroad, the most immediate effects of a "Yes" vote will impact their passports.


If Scotland votes to separate, any British citizens born in Scotland and living abroad (including in Canada) will be considered Scottish citizens as of the date of Scottish independence. Any children born outside the country to at least one parent with Scottish citizenship will also be considered Scottish citizens. Births must be registered in Scotland for that citizenship to take effect.

Anyone living abroad who has a parent or grandparent with Scottish citizenship will be allowed to voluntarily register as a Scottish citizen.

For example, a man born in Scotland and living in Canada would automatically become a Scottish citizen. Any children that man has now or in the future will also be automatically considered Scottish citizens, but the births must be registered in Scotland to be official.


Scottish independence would not invalidate Scottish citizens’ current U.K. passports. For Scottish expats, that means you can keep your U.K. passport and the EU membership that comes with it – until it expires. After that, things are still unclear.

Scotland will have its own passport for Scottish citizens on the first day of independence, but there's no guarantee it will bear EU status. If Scotland applies, it could take months or years to be accepted as an EU member state. Scottish citizens will not enjoy EU membership perks during that waiting period, unless they already hold EU membership through another country's passport.

The U.K. Parliament will have to rule on whether it will allow Scottish citizens to renew their U.K. passports going forward.

Scottish passports will not be mandatory for Scottish citizens, and dual citizenship is allowed in Scotland.

European Union

Scotland says its passports will meet EU requirements, but membership in the EU will not be automatic. Scotland will need to be approved by the EU's member nations before it can be admitted to the union.

Scotland has expressed a desire either to keep the British pound or establish its own currency. Therefore, Scotland is unlikely to adopt the euro as its currency.

Scottish border-crossing privileges will have to be negotiated with the EU and the U.K. if the country votes to separate.

What about the monarchy?

"God Save the Queen" will still be sung in the classrooms of Scotland, even if Scots vote to leave the United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth II would remain as Scotland's head of state after a "Yes" vote in the referendum. Scotland would need to a pass a separate law to remove the monarchy from its governmental system.

The current Scottish government says it has no desire to remove the monarchy from its government.