by BBC News.
Voting got under way across Scotland at 07:00 on Thursday.
People in Scotland are voting on whether the country should stay in the UK or become an independent nation.
Voters will answer “Yes” or “No” to the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
With 4,285,323 people – 97% of the electorate – registered to vote, it is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.
Votes will be cast at 5,579 polling stations until 22:00 on Thursday. The result is expected on Friday morning.
Strict rules mean the BBC – in common with other broadcasters – is not allowed to report details of campaigning until after the polls close.
Voters formed a queue outside the polling place in Portobello, Edinburgh, before voting began.Voters queue up in West Glasgow to answer the question: Should Scotland be an independent country?These voters in the south of Edinburgh were among the first to have their say on Scotland’s future.
Once the polls have closed, ballot papers will be counted in each of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas.
These will include votes cast from the 789,024 postal vote applications, which was the largest volume of registration for postal votes ever in Scotland.
After votes have been tallied, the counting officer in each area will communicate the result to the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly in Edinburgh.
With her approval they will then make a declaration of the result.
Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond voted in the Aberdeenshire village of Strichen.Former prime minister Gordon Brown cast his vote in North Queensferry.
Once the results from all 32 local authority areas are known, Ms Pitcaithly will declare the result of the referendum at the Royal Highland Centre outside Edinburgh.
Ms Pitcaithly has said she will announce the result at “breakfast time” on Friday.
The result is most likely to be between 06:30 and 07:30, according to Elections Scotland.
That is because the final Scottish declarations in the 2010 UK parliamentary elections and the 2011 Scottish parliamentary elections declaration were made at those times respectively.
However, running totals – which can be made from the first declaration onwards – may indicate a result earlier in the morning.
The bulk of these are expected to come in between 03:00 and 06:00.
Because the polling stations are expected to be so busy, counting officers have put measures in place to reduce the risk of queuing.
The remote nature of some Scottish regions also means bad weather could delay the receipt of ballot boxes at counting centres, in turn delaying the national result.
Helicopters and boats are being used to transport ballot boxes to counts in areas such as Argyll and Bute.
Elections Scotland said recounts will only be allowed at a local level on the basis of concerns about process, not the closeness of a result.
It’s time to say goodbye Scotland, time to show the world that you are a strong and proud nation, The time for independance is Now!