The Legal Requirements

In this section, you will find details of the legal requirements relating to marriage.  Specific requirements may apply to your personal circumstances.

Notice of Marriage

Before you can marry in a register office, 'approved premises', church or chapel in England or Wales (other than a Church of England where you may have banns called), you must give notice of your intention to marry.

Since January 1st 2001 each person wanting to marry has to give their own notice of intention to marry to the Superintendent Registrar in the district in which they reside.  Both parties must have resided in a district in England or Wales for at least seven whole days immediately prior to giving a Notice of Marriage.

Please note that from 2 March 2015 the notice period will be increasing from 15 clear days to 28 clear days. There will be a referral scheme in place, whereby all non-EEA nationals without settled status, a marriage or civil partnership visa or evidence of immigration status will be referred to the Home Office for further investigation. Those within scope of the referral scheme may have the waiting period extended from 28 days to 70 days if their case is still being considered. For more information see the Gov.uk website.

If you live in a different district to where the marriage will take place, you will need to apply for and obtain the authority for your marriage to take place. This authority must be delivered to the Minister of the church or Superintendent Registrar of the district in which you are to marry.

You will still be able to marry in any Register Office or 'approved premises' in England or Wales irrespective of where you live, and your notice can still be taken up to one year in advance of the date of your wedding.

Proof of Identity

When you give notice of your marriage, you need to give proof of your identity and the identity of the person you intend to marry.

A current passport is an ideal way of proving your identity. If you have never held a passport or your passport is not available for some reason, we will accept other proof of your identity and our staff will be happy to discuss this with you.

Documents for divorced and widowed partners

If either of you has been married before, either in this country or abroad, you will need to show proof of your divorce.

If either of you were divorced in England or Wales, we will need to see a court stamped copy of the decree absolute (the final divorce paper).

If the divorce took place in a foreign country, we will need to see the original document issued by that country and, if the document is in a foreign language, an English translation. If no documents were issued in the foreign country, we will tell you what we can accept as proof of the divorce.

If either of you is a widow or widower, we will need to see a certified copy of your former partner's death certificate, and in certain cases a copy of the marriage certificate as well.

Proof of prior marriage in a foreign country

If you have married each other in a foreign country, you only need to get married here if you think the marriage was not legal. If you decide to get married here, we will need to see any documents issued by that country when you give us notice of your marriage.

Parental permission for partners under 18

If either of you is under 18, we will need to see proof that your parents or guardian agree to the marriage.

If your parents are divorced, we may also need to see the court order that gives custody to one of them. The Superintendent Registrar will give you advice on this matter.

Can my partner and I get married if either of us is subject to immigration control?

There are restrictions where either person wishing to marry is subject to immigration control. A person will be subject to immigration control if they are not an EEA national and they require permission to enter or remain in the UK. People subject to immigration control wishing to give notice of marriage will need to do so at a designated register office. The designated office is based in Chelmsford.

Should you have a query about immigration matters, please visit the UK visa and immigration (UKVI) at www.gov.uk.