Marriage Requirements in the United Kingdom

The legal requirements for getting married in the United Kingdom...

Notice must be given in person at a local register office at least 15 days before the marriage can take place. The couple must be resident in the catchment area for the register office for at least seven days prior to giving notice of the marriage. If the marriage is to take place in a different area, contact the register office in that area also before giving notice.

  • To find a local register office: Click here
  • To find an approved venue for civil ceremonies: Click here

The notice is displayed for 15 days before the authorisation to marry is granted. Once the notice has been displayed, the couple have one year in which to get married in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and three months in Scotland. If there is a change of venue for the marriage, new notice must be given.

Note: If marrying at the Church of England or Church in Wales, giving notice of marriage is not generally required. Instead, the vicar of the church should be contacted to organise the marriage. For all other religious ceremonies, formal notice must be given at the register office unless one of the couple is subject to immigration control.

If one party is subject to immigration control, notice must be given at a designated register office. To find a designated office contact the General Register Office.

Documents required to give notice to marry

The following documentation and information is required from each party when giving notice at a register office:

  • Full name and address
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Current status (single, divorced, widowed/widowered); proof of divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership is required if applicable
  • Occupation
  • Information on the intended venue for the marriage
  • Those subject to immigration control may need to provide additional documents (Certificate of Approval or visa)

Proof of identity, such as a passport, should be taken, with if applicable, proof of divorce or dissolution of a previous partnership. There is a fee for giving notice.

  • For further information on the legal obligations when getting married: Click here

Civil and Religious Ceremonies

UK law recognises both civil and religious ceremonies. In England and Wales a marriage can take place in either an Anglican church or other religious building registered for marriage. Civil ceremonies can take place at a register office or approved venue and may not contain any religious content.

On the day of the marriage, two people (aside from the marrying couple) must be present to sign as witnesses.

  • For further information from the UK government on civil and religious marriages: Click here

Name Changes

A woman can either keep her maiden name when getting married or take her husband's surname. If she wishes to use both names (hyphenated), she will need to change her name by Deed Poll.

  • for further information on changing a name by Deed Poll: Click here

If the bride chooses to take her husband's surname, she must send a marriage certificate to the relevant organisations and government departments to advise them of her name change so that records can be updated.

  • For information on who to contact following a name change: Click here

Further Information