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Marriages and civil partnerships in the UK

  1. Overview
  2. What you need to do
  3. Giving notice at your local register office
  4. Documents to take to the register office
  5. Foreign nationals
  1. Religious ceremonies
  2. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies

1. Overview

You can get married or form a civil partnership in the UK if you’re:

  • 16 or over
  • free to marry or form a civil partnership (single, divorced or widowed)
  • not closely related

You need permission from your parents or guardians if you’re under 18 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Only same sex couples can form a civil partnership.

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

Same sex couples

You can:

  • form a civil partnership in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • get married in England, Scotland and Wales
  • convert your civil partnershipinto a marriage in England, Scotland and Wales

Marriages and civil partnerships in Scotland and Northern Ireland

You can read more about the rules:

2- What you need to do

There are usually 2 steps to getting married or forming a civil partnership in England and Wales.

  1. Give notice at your local register office.
  2. Have a religious ceremonyor civil ceremony at least 28 days after giving notice.

There may be different steps for some religious ceremonies.

Getting married or forming a civil partnership abroad

Find out about who to contact and which documents you may need to get from the UK authorities if you want to get married or form a civil partnership abroad.

Your overseas marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in the UK if you follow the correct process according to local law – you won’t have to register it in the UK.

Marrying in England or Wales if you live abroad

You may be able to give notice in the country where you’re living if that country has signed up to the ‘British Subjects Facilities Acts’. Your partner must be a resident of England or Wales.

Contact the register office for the district in England and Wales where you intend to marry.

Countries signed up to the ‘British Subjects Facilities Acts’

Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Bermuda
Botswana
Canada (Newfoundland only)
Cook Islands
Cyprus
Dominica
Fiji
The Gambia
Ghana (former Gold Coast colony only)
Gibraltar
Grenada
Guernsey (including Alderney)
Isle of Man
Jamaica
Jersey
Kiribati
Kenya
Leeward Islands
Lesotho
Malawi
Malaysia (former Straits Settlement of Labuan, Malacca and Penang only)
Mauritius
Nauru
New Zealand
Nigeria
Pitcairn Islands
St Lucia
St Vincent
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
Sri Lanka
Swaziland
Tanzania (Zanzibar only)
Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago
Tuvalu
Uganda
Vanuatu
Zambia
Zimbabwe

3- Giving notice at your local register office

For most marriages or civil partnerships you must give at least 28 full days’ notice at your local register office.

You need to include details of where you intend to get married or form a civil partnership.

Your notice will be publicly displayed in the register office for 28 days.

You may also need to give notice here if you plan to marry or form a civil partnership abroad. Ask the overseas authority if you’ll need a ‘certificate of no impediment’.

Contact your local register office to make an appointment.

You can only give notice at a register office if you have lived in the registration district for at least the past 7 days.

There are different rules for religious ceremonies.

You must get married or register your civil partnership within one year, or 3 months if you’re in Scotland.

Foreign nationals

There are different rules if you or your partner are a foreign national from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.

4-Documents to take to the register office

When you go to the register office, you need to take proof of your name, age and nationality. For example your:

  • valid passport
  • birth certificate
  • national identity card from the European Economic Area (EEA)or Switzerland
  • certificate of registration
  • certificate of naturalisation
  • biometric residence card or permit
  • travel document

If you’ve changed your name, you must bring proof – eg a copy of a deed poll.

The registrar also needs proof of your address, for example a:

  • valid UK or EEA driving licence
  • gas, water or electricity bill from the last 3 months
  • bank or building society statement from the last month
  • council tax bill from the last 12 months
  • mortgage statement from the last 12 months
  • current tenancy agreement
  • letter from your landlord confirming you live there and including your landlord’s name, address and their signature dated within the last 7 days

Check with your local register office if they require a photo ID

You might need other documents if you don’t have a valid passport and you were born after 1983 – check with the register office.

You each need to pay a £35 fee when you attend the register office to give notice. It can be more if you or your partner are from outside EEA or Switzerland.

If you’ve been divorced or widowed

If you’ve been married or in a civil partnership before, you need to take either:

A foreign divorce will usually be recognised in England and Wales if it was valid in the country where it took place.

The registrar will check your overseas divorce documents and may have to get in touch with the General Register Office to confirm whether your marriage or civil partnership can go ahead.

5. Foreign nationals

If either of you is from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and subject to immigration control, you or your partner will need a visa to come to the UK to:

  • give notice
  • get married or form a civil partnership

This includes people who don’t normally need visas for general visits (unless you’re already in the UK).

Once in the UK (or if you’re already in the UK), you and your partner must give at least 28 days’ notice at a designated register office if both the following apply to either of you:

  • you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • you’re subject to immigration control

The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

Get a visa if you’re outside the UK

The application process is different depending on your partner’s circumstances.

If your partner is from the UK or settled in the UK

Apply for a family of a settled person visa (eg, as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner) if you intend to stay in the UK for more than 6 months.

Apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa for a stay of less than 6 months.

If your partner is from the EEA (excluding UK) or Switzerland

If your partner is a permanent UK resident (ie has a ‘document certifying permanent residence’), you can apply for a family of a settled person visa.

If your partner isn’t a permanent UK resident, you can apply for an EEA family permit to accompany or join your partner in the UK. You’ll usually have to prove that you and your partner have lived together in a relationship for at least 2 years.

If your partner is not from the UK, Switzerland or EEA, and not settled in the UK

Apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa. You’ll have to leave the UK within 6 months.

Giving notice

Both you and your partner must give at least 28 days’ notice at a designated register office in England and Wales.

You can only give notice if you’ve both lived in England and Wales for at least 7 days.

If you’re both exempt from immigration control you need to give notice at your local register office. You’ll need to show evidence of why you’re exempt, eg you have right of abode.

When your notice period can be extended

Your notice period can be extended to 70 days if you or your partner:

  • are from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • have limited or no immigration status in the UK
  • don’t give the registrar enough evidence to show you’re settled in the UK

You’ll be told within 28 days if your notice period will be extended.

The registrar will tell you if this applies to you and your proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office. The Home Office may investigate to make sure your marriage or civil partnership is genuine.

You may be interviewed by the Home Office or asked for more information as part of the investigation. You must comply with the investigation or you won’t be allowed to get married or form a civil partnership.

You must also tell the Home Office if you change your address during the notice period.

Documents you need

You need to take proof of your name, date of birth, nationality and address to the designated register office.

You’ll also be asked about your partner’s immigration status if they’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland (or your partner will be asked about your status if you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland).

Fees and conditions

You will have to pay a notice fee of £35 if your passport or immigration document shows that you:

  • have settled status in the UK, eg indefinite leave to remain
  • are exempt from immigration control, eg right of abode
  • have a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa (you both must also bring a passport sized photograph)
  • a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner visa (you both must also bring a passport sized photograph)
  • have an EU right of permanent residence in the UK

If you don’t have any of the above documents, you’ll have to pay a fee of £47 and give:

  • details of your normal address if it’s different from the address you’ve used to give notice
  • details of a UK contact address if your normal address is outside the UK
  • details of any previous names and current or previous names or identities that you’ve been known as
  • a passport sized photograph

6. Religious ceremonies

A religious wedding can take place at a church, chapel or other registered religious building.

Religious blessing can take place after a civil ceremony in a register office.

You can’t get married in an Anglican Church as a same sex couple. You can get married in other religious buildings if:

  • the religious organisation allows the marriage of same sex couples to take place
  • the premises has been registered for the marriage of same sex couples

Anglican marriages

To get married in an Anglican church, contact your local church in:

You don’t usually need to give notice with the register office if you’re getting married in an Anglican church and both you and your partner are:

Officials performing Anglican marriages will register your marriage.

You need to give notice at a register office if you or your partner are from outside the EEA or Switzerland.

Jewish and Quaker marriages

You need to give notice with the register office at least 28 days before the ceremony. Officials performing Jewish or Quaker marriages will register marriages.

Non-Anglican Christian marriages and all other religions

You need to give notice with the register office at least 28 days before the ceremony.

Authorised officials, including ministers and priests of other religions, can register marriages.

You must give notice at a ‘designated’ register office if you or your partner are from outside the EEA or Switzerland.

7. Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies Vows

You must exchange some formal wording if you’re getting married.

Discuss any other wording you want in the ceremony with the person conducting it.

You don’t need to exchange vows for a civil partnership, but you can do so if you wish.

Civil ceremonies can include readings, songs or music, but must not include anything that’s religious, eg hymns or readings from the Bible.

You’ll need to have at least 2 witnesses at the ceremony.

Signing the register

You, your partner and your 2 witnesses must sign the marriage register or civil partnership document.

Cost of registering a marriage or civil partnership

You have to pay a fee to register a UK marriage or civil partnership – different fees may apply abroad.

This is £46 if you have the ceremony at a register office, but may be more at other venues. Ask the registrar or religious minister for details.

The marriage or civil partnership certificate costs £4 on the day of the event or £10 after. You may need a copy to prove your marital status in the future.

Venues

You can have a civil ceremony or civil partnership at:

  • a register office
  • any venue approved by the local council, eg a stately home or hotel
  • a religious premises where permission has been given by the organisation and the premises approved by the local authority

The Home Office has a list of all approved civil marriage and civil partnership venues.

For more information please see the link of the Home office UK government web page below:

https://www.gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships/weddings-and-civil-partnership-ceremonies

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