Scotland will be independent when the people of Scotland vote for it. The decision is yours to take. There are three important stages.
First, the Scottish Government must make sure the referendum is fair and meets the highest international standards. The consultation on the rules and question for the referendum has now finished and the results will be published later this year. The Scottish Government will introduce the Referendum Bill into the Scottish Parliament at the beginning of 2013 and it will become law by the end of that year.
Second, the people of Scotland must get all the information they need to make this choice. In 2013 the Scottish Government will publish a White Paper setting out the full case for being independent. Between now and then, you can sign up to get more information. On these pages we will look in depth at the most important issues. You will also be able to attend one of a number of local independence public meetings to ask your questions direct and join the debate.
Finally, the referendum itself will be held in autumn 2014. This will give people time to consider the issues and decide the sort of future they want for their country. If a majority of Scots vote ‘yes’ then the Scottish Government will begin discussion with the Westminster government to deliver the transfer of responsibilities and management of functions from London to Scotland. This will ensure a smooth transition to independence. The next Scottish election in 2016 will be to the first independent parliament. At this point, you will be able to choose the government you want for Scotland.