british citizenship

British citizenship by marriage

Marriages and civil partnerships in the UK

Contents

Civil partnerships and marriages in the UK

Overview - British citizenship by marriage

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.

Prepare for the British Citizenship - Life in the UK Test

Remember, if you wanna do british citizenship firt must pass Life in the UK exam.

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 partnership into a marriage in England, Scotland and Wales
Marriages and civil partnerships in Scotland and Northern Ireland

You can read more about the rules:

What you need to do - British citizenship by marriage

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

There may be different steps for some religious ceremony.

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

Giving notice at your local register office - British citizenship by marriage

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 ceremony.

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.

Documents to take to the register office - British citizenship by marriage

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:

Overseas divorces and annulments

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

You need to take your divorce or annulment documents to the register office if they were granted outside of the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.

The registrar may need to get in touch with the General Register Office (GRO) to confirm whether your marriage or civil partnership can go ahead. If they do, you’ll have to pay a fee of between £50 and £75. The fee will be confirmed once GRO have seen your documents.

Foreign nationals- British citizenship by marriage

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 giving 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

    Religious ceremonies - British citizenship by marriage

    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

    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.

    Weddings and civil partnership ceremonies - British citizenship by marriage

    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.

    Different ways to apply for British citizenship

    There are different ways to apply for British citizenship based on your circumstances.

    Apply for citizenship if you're from the EEA

    You should have lived in the UK for at least 5 years before the date of your application.

    Marriages and civil partnerships in the UK

    Civil partnerships and marriages in the UK

    UK residence for EU citizens

    There will be no change to the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK until 2021. You and your family can apply for ‘settled status’ to continue living in the UK after June 2021. The scheme will open fully by March 2019.

    Countries in the EU and EEA

    The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 28 countries. It operates an internal (or single) market which allows free movement of goods, capital, services and people between member states.

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    Prepare for the British Citizenship - Life in the UK Test

    Remember, if you wanna do british citizenship firt must pass Life in the UK exam.