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Marriage Registration: How To Apply for a Marriage Certificate

The journey to marriage is filled with excitement, but it also involves essential administrative tasks that shouldn't be overlooked. Among them is obtaining a marriage certificate – a crucial legal document that validates your marital union and serves as proof of marriage.

If you're unsure about how to obtain this important document, fear not. In this article, we'll walk you through everything you need to know about getting married in the UK and the process of obtaining your marriage certificate.

How to get a marriage certificate in the UK

Who can get married in the UK?

In the UK, getting married is possible from the age of:

  • • 16 with parental approval.
  • • 18 without any parental consent.

However, not everyone can get married straightaway. If you or your partner are from outside the UK, you must apply for a visa or marriage license. The permit you'll need depends on whether you want to live in the Uk afterwards. The three main visas that allow you to get married exist within two big visa permits: the visitor visa and the family visa. The specific permits are the marriage visitor visa, the partner visa, and the fiance visa. Find out more about them here.

What type of ceremony can I have?

There are two main type of ceremonies you can choose from: a civil or a religious one. But in both cases, the following legal requirements must be met:

  • 1) The ceremony must be conducted by a person authorized to register marriages in the district.
  • 2) The marriage union must be recorded in the marriage register; this record needs to be signed by both parties, two witnesses, and the person who performs the ceremony.

Note: the rules for getting married in Scotland and Northern Ireland are different, so we suggest you check them out.

The civil ceremony

If you want a civil marriage ceremony, you and your partner must make an appointment to give a 28 days' notice for marriage at your local registry office. You will then have to get married within 12 months of your "giving notice."

Notice that if you and your partner live in separate locations, you will both need to go to your own local registry office to give notice of the marriage. However, you will be able to get married in the district of your choice. Simply make sure the notice states the place where the ceremony will take place.

The religious ceremony

If you are getting married in the Church of England or the Church of Wales, you won't need to enlist at the Register Office. Instead, you will have to publish the banns so that they can be read during the 3 Sundays preceding your marriage date. For any other church, you will have to register at the Register Office.

Marriage certificate example


When registering for your wedding at the Register Office or the Church of England or Wales, you will be asked to bring the following documentation:

At the end of the ceremony and after both spouses and their witnesses have signed the register, your signed marriage document will be sent to your local register office and added to the marriage register. After that, you can request your marriage certificate.

In England and Wales, you can get copies of a marriage certificate from the General Register Office, either online, by post or by email.

1. By post

To apply by post, you must send your application form to the following address:

  • General Register OfficePO Box 2SouthportPR8 2JD

If you have questions about the procedure, you may contact the GRO to the following telephone: 0300 123 1837. Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, and Saturday from 9am to 4 pm.

2. By email

If you prefer to write an email, you must do so to the following address:

3. Online

You can apply for a marriage certificate online on the official government website. The whole process takes only around 10 minutes and you can pay using a debit or credit card.

Note: in Scotland you can order a marriage certificate online from the ScotlandsPeople website.

Who can apply for a marriage certificate?

As for the birth or death certificates, a wedding certificate is a vital record that can be requested by anyone.

When will I need to show my marriage certificate?

This document will be requested if you want to:

  • Change your name after getting married
  • • Add your spouse to your work benefits
  • • Make your partner beneficiary for your insurance
  • Get divorced
  • • Carry out genealogic research

Cost and processing times

The average cost of a registrar for a civil ceremony is £46 at a register office and £86 at a registered religious building.

In England, Wales, and Scotland the cost of a certified copy of a marriage record is 11£ per copy and it takes around 4 days to arrive by post. You can also choose a priority service for £35.

Now you know

In order to get married in the Uk, you may need to apply for a marriage license. This is the case if you come from outside the UK. The visa permit you need to apply for depends on whether you are planning to live in the UK after your wedding.

Once you get married, you can request a certified copy of your marriage certificate online, by post, or by email. This document serves as proof of your new marital status and will be requested to perform numerous administrative procedures.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with everything you need to get your first copy or replacement of your marriage certificate.