What Documents Do I Need to Get Married in the UK?
Getting married in the United Kingdom is a very exciting day for you, your partner and your families. In fact, it should be the happiest day of your life. To make sure that it’s memorable for the right reasons, you’ll have to plan everything properly. Between the rings, dresses, guests and venues, you’ll also need to know the marriage and civil partnership eligibility, document & translation requirements in the United Kingdom.
In this article we’re going to look at the following UK marriage details:
- General information about marriage requirements in the UK;
- Requirements for marrying a foreigner in the UK;
- Documents required as part of your marriage or civil partnership application;
- Specific requirements for foreign nationals getting married in the UK;
- Translation requirements for non-English documents.
We’re not going to go in to every single detail of marriage in the UK (trust us, you wouldn’t want us to). But by the end of this article you’ll know what documents you need to get married and which ones you may need to have officially translated.
General information about marriage in the UK
The different types of UK marriage
There are two different types of marriage in the United Kingdom: civil ceremonies and religious or belief ceremonies. Civil ceremonies will generally consist of registering your marriage at a register office or an approved local venue. Religious and belief ceremonies, on the other hand, are religious weddings which take place in approved religious venues.
You can also choose to enter a civil partnership, but this is only applicable if you are a same-sex couple. It is also now possible to convert civil partnerships in to marriages as part of a ceremony as well.
There are, however, slightly different marriage requirements and regulations between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We’ll discuss the specific differences between the nations in Section 2, since they mostly consist of the timings of marriage notices and different document requirements. Importantly, one of the most significant differences between the United Kingdom nations relates to same-sex marriage. In England, Wales and Scotland, same-sex marriage is completely legal and ceremonies can take place in approved religious buildings: same-sex marriage is not, however, legal in Northern Ireland.
The Legal Process
Whether or not you’ve already become engaged, you should check to see if you’re eligible to marry or form a civil partnership in the United Kingdom. Typically, if you’re over the age of 16 and not marrying somebody who is a close relative, you are able to form a civil partnership or marry. It gets more complicated when either you, your future partner or both you and your partner are foreign nationals. We’ll discuss this in more detail in Section 3.
Once you’ve checked whether or not you are eligible, you should plan your ceremony, deciding whether it will be a religious or civil ceremony, and where the ceremony will take place. Next, you’ll need to give notice of your marriage or civil partnership. Then, after all the hard work and planning, you can enjoy your big day and update your details afterward.
What documents do I need to get married in the UK?
In each United Kingdom nation, you will need to give notice of your marriage or civil partnership. This involves completing a marriage notice form together and signing a legal document in your local register office. This appointment confirms that you intend to form a civil partnership or get married within the next 12 months. At the appointment you will also need to present all of the documents required to legally marry in the UK.
Information required for UK marriage
Typically, when you give notice of marriage you will need to present the following information:
- Proof of name;
- Proof of age;
- Proof of nationality;
- Proof of address;
- Entry visa.
Your proof of name and proof of nationality can be confirmed with your passport, regardless of whether it is a UK passport or a foreign passport. An identity card from an EU or EAA country is also acceptable, as is a UK Certificate of Naturalisation.
You’ll need to confirm your age with an original birth certificate. Contrary to your passport, this document must be presented in English. If the original scribe is in a foreign language, you will need to obtain an official translation of your birth certificate to present alongside the original.
You can confirm your address with your driving licence or a recent utility bill. If your home address is not in the United Kingdom but your partner is a British resident, you can use their address instead. EU and EAA residents can also use their driving licence to show evidence of their home address.
If neither you nor your partner are British residents, then you’ll be able to prove your address with a bank statement. Since you must present this in English, you’ll need to submit it with a certified translation.
Re-marrying when you’ve previously been married
If you’ve already been married in the UK or in another country altogether, you will be required to provide some additional documentation. If you have married in the past and are currently divorced, then you will need to provide a decree absolute, or a divorce certificate.
If your previous partner has passed away, even if they did so while you were a resident in another country, you will need to present a death certificate. If either of these documents are scribed in a foreign language, then you will need to get a certified translation of the document in English to present alongside the original.
In Northern Ireland you may also need to provide the marriage certificate from your previous marriage.
Different regulations in Scotland and Northern Ireland
As we’ve already mentioned, Northern Ireland is the only United Kingdom nation where same-sex marriage is illegal. If you’re getting married in Scotland, then you can do so without any parental consent from the age of 16. If you’re under 18 and marrying in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, then you will need proof of parental consent to marry.
Additionally, if you’re getting married in Scotland and you aren’t from the UK, you will need to present a certificate from your home country which confirms that there is no reason for you not to marry. The process of converting a civil partnership in to a marriage in Scotland also differs to the process in England and Wales.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you will also need to complete a Declaration of Status of Immigration form. This form must be included with the documents you’ll present at your marriage notice appointment.
UK Marriage for Foreign Nationals
If you thought it was straightforward up to this point, then this is where it becomes more complicated. Getting married and forming civil partnerships in the UK when you, your partner or both you and your partner are non-UK nationals can be done in several different ways. There are many different visas that either of you may have to apply for, and they could be rejected entirely. You’ll need to present additional documentation along with the relevant certificated English translation.
Marriage Visas for Non-UK Nationals
According to the UK Government website, you will need to apply for a visa to marry or form a civil partnership if you:
- are from outside the EU, EEA or Switzerland;
- are not a British citizen;
- do not have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
If you do not fall under one of the above categories, then you will need to apply for the correct UK visa. You cannot enter the UK to marry or form a civil partnership on a standard visitor visa.
The Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor Visa is specifically designed for people that plan to get married in the UK, but do not plan to stay longer than 6 months after their marriage or civil partnership is formed. This visa does not however apply to family members or dependants; they will need to apply for their individual visas separately.
Other ways to enter the UK to get married are to arrange a Family of a Settled Person Visa, or a Visitor Visa to give notice of getting married. Either way, you will need to live in the UK for a minimum of 7 days before you attend your appointment to give notice at a local, designated registrar.
At your appointment they’ll review your notice of marriage or civil partnership and collect your documents with their certified English translations. You will then be required to wait at least 28 days before you can marry.
If either you or your partner are foreign nationals, you may need to wait up to 70 days. This delay may be required by Home Office and immigration control as they thoroughly check all of your documentation and your immigration status.
Marrying a Foreigner in UK
If your partner is a foreigner and you want to get married or form a civil partnership in the UK, he or she must apply for a visa. The type of visa depends on where your partner is from, and whether he or she intends to stay in the UK after the ceremony.
- If your partner does not intend to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months after the ceremony, he/she can apply for a marriage visitor visa.
- If you're a British citizen and your partner intends to live in the UK after the ceremony, he/she can apply for a family visa.
- If you're not a British citizen but from an EU, EEA country or Switzerland, your partner can apply for a family permit.
Document translations for UK marriages
Documents that require translation
Regardless of you or your partner’s nationality, if any of the documents you are submitting as part of your marriage notice are in a foreign language, they will need to be presented with a certified English translation too. Similarly, you may need to submit important documents to support any relevant visa applications before you even give notice of marriage or civil partnership. You will be required to present a certified translation of these documents to immigration control as well.
We’ve already mentioned a lot of regulations, documents and types of visa. In summary, the documents you may be required to obtain a certified translation of are as follows:
- birth certificate;
- bank statement;
- decree absolute;
- divorce certificate;
- death certificate;
- marriage certificate;
- any other required visa documentation.
You will need to obtain a certified translation of these documents to present with the original certificate. The UK government has a strict criteria on which translations are acceptable and which are not.
After completing all of the tiring paperwork as part of your application to marry in the UK, the last thing you want is to have it rejected because your translations were not certified copies. It’s worth being absolutely certain that your translated documents will be accepted, and that means every translation you submit with your documentation must be certified.
The person that works on your document translation must be a professional translator, or a translator for a professional translation company. They must be a qualified Member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) or the Chartered Institute of Linguistics (CIoL), or the agency you contract with, should be a member of the Association of Translation Companies (ATC).
Only those professional translators or agencies will be able to provide a certified translation of your document, and the certified translation which they produce will have all of the required information on it. Even if you are not based in the UK, you can contact a professional translation company to carry out your translation work. That way, you know that it will be accepted as part of your application to marry or form a civil partnership in the UK.
Where to Find a Certified Translator
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If you have a document to be translated as part of a visa application or marriage notice, then place an order with us, or get in touch with our team.