The Smartcard is the primary ID for solicitors in Scotland; it contains your photograph and your unique solicitor ID number. Additionally, it can also contain your own qualified digital signature. Whether you’re a trainee or an experienced solicitor, the process for obtaining a Law Society of Scotland Smartcard is the same.

In order to start the Smartcard process you must have a valid practising certificate, either a restricted or full one. If you do not hold either, we cannot process your application or create a card for you. If you are unsure of your practising certificate status, then please contact the Registrar team by email at Registrar@lawscot.org.uk 

Please read the following instructions before you start the process.

The process for getting a Smartcard

Carefully check the name you are entering on the form.

You need to ensure it is the name you wish to practise under. There are strict rules on how your name may appear on the card. If you are registered with the Law Society under your first name, but practise under your middle name, then we can put your first, middle, and last name on the card. We cannot, however, put just your middle name and last name on the card, as this is not your legal name per your legal documentation. Additionally, if you would like a digital signature on your card, the name you enter here needs to be the same as the one in your ID documentation. If you have changed your name through a deed poll, marriage or divorce, then please contact the Registrar team with evidence of your name change so they can amend our records.

Make sure we have the correct business address for you. This address is showing on the form already. We send your "Smartcard as ID" to this address by recorded delivery, so it needs to be current. If this is not your business address, please get in touch with the Registrar to have your record amended.

Please indicate on the form whether or not you would like your digital signature included. The process of obtaining a Smartcard with a signature differs slightly from receiving your card without one, due to security features on the card itself. The different procedures are explained further below.

You can access the form after you sign in to your Law Society account. 

You also need to upload a passport-sized photograph.

This photograph will be printed onto your Smartcard, therefore it needs to be of a certain quality. We will check your uploaded photo when it arrives, and if it is is not fit for purpose, you will have to submit your form and photo again. Also please note that this should be a photo that you would not be embarrassed to show to colleagues and clients. We will not print multiple cards if you are unhappy with the image that you sent us. The images will be updated about six years after you receive your first Smartcard, so if the image is unflattering, you will have to wait for the next round to get a new card.

Image criteria

The image must be a jpg/jpeg file and should be 300 x 400 pixels in size and no bigger than 500 KB. The filename must be your 5-digit Law Society ID number - this will enable us to match the right photo to the right person when preparing a card. You received this number when you first registered with us; it is unique to you and is noted on your practising certificate. (upper right hand corner)

Please ensure your photograph fulfills the following criteria:

  • It is a true likeness of you, and of your full head.
  • It is in colour against a white/cream/light background.
  • It is clear, in sharp focus, has no red eye or shadow.
  • It must show a close-up of your full head and shoulder and not include any objects or other people.

Your photograph must be an original image. Please do not use images that have been cut from larger photos.

When selecting the image, please make sure that you:

  • Face forward and look straight into the camera with your eyes open.
  • Look natural.
  • Have nothing covering your eyes, e.g. hair, hair accessories, hoods, hats, etc.
  • Not wear sun or tinted glasses.
  • Not wear a hat or cover your head unless for medical or religious reasons.
  • Do not alter the image in any way by retouching it, applying filters or using similar means.

Photographs originally produced to passport requirements are acceptable.

When you have checked and confirmed the information and attached your photograph, click the "submit" button.

We will send you a confirmation email saying that we received your application and explaining the options of receiving a Smartcard either with or without your digital signature.

Once we have received your form and photograph, we will process them and print a Smartcard for you. It will then be sent by recorded delivery to the business address we have for you. Please ensure that your address details are up to date; if you are not sure or need to make changes, get in touch with the Registrar team to confirm your records.

The Smartcard will have a chip in it, but there will not be a digital signature available on it. You will not be able to use the card for anything electronic; it will work as ID only. The Smartcard contains your photograph and your Law Society ID number which can be checked against the current roll of solicitors. The Smartcard identifies you as a Scottish qualified solicitor, licensed and with a valid practising certificate. You can present the card as proof while visiting prisons and courts, meeting prospective clients or introducing yourself to potential employers.

You can still add a digital signature to your Smartcard at a later point, of course. However, this requires a face-to-face meeting with an operator – see the next point “Collect your Smartcard with digital signature.”

If you would like a Smartcard with a digital signature, you must collect your card with signature in person, either at a prearranged Smartcard collection event or at another Law Society event. There are no exceptions to this rule. Since the signature is a qualified digital signature, the most secure and trustworthy form of electronic signatures, certain steps need to be taken to fulfill the legal requirements when issuing such signatures. A list of confirmed Smartcard collection events including booking links can be found on our website.

We require that you bring identity documents to collect your card and we will ask you to sign a contract. You will also enter a PIN and a PUK code which, per your contract, only you are allowed to know. As a safety feature, your digital signature can only be accessed with your PIN. Much like a bank card you must enter your PIN before you can sign or do anything else electronic with the card. It must be six digits (letters, numbers or a combination of the two) without any special characters.

Additionally, you will also be asked to create a PUK. The PUK must be eight digits (letters, numbers or a combination of the two) without any special characters. The PUK can be used to unlock your card should you forget your PIN code. It can also be used to reset your passcodes should you so desire.

Because the PIN and PUK are only stored on your Smartcard, we have no  access to these numbers and we cannot reset them. If you should forget your PIN or PUK, then the card is useless for signatures and can only be used as ID. Getting a new card with a digital signature requires you to go through the collection process again.

You and our operator will go through the Smartcard programming sequence where the operator creates and subsequently downloads your digital signature to your Smartcard. The entire process takes about five to 10 minutes and you will leave the venue with a functioning Smartcard.

Now that you’ve obtained your card, it’s time to use it. Please visit our installation page for instructions on downloading the necessary materials to use the digital signature on your card. You will also find guide material on how to apply a secure digital signature to your documents.

Smartcard events

Find out to how register for an event where you can receive your Smartcard with digital signature. Plus, info on what you need to submit beforehand and bring with you on the day.

Smartcard member contract

If you would like a Smartcard with a digital signature, you will need to sign a contract. Have a look what's in it.

Photo and ID guidelines

When you submit your form, you need to include a photograph; when you collect your Smartcard with a digital signature, we verify your identity. These are the guidelines.