How to get married in the UK if you are a non-EU citizen

How to get married in the UK if you are a non-EU citizen

People often think that getting married in the UK is extremely easy. In reality though, for non-EU nationals getting married in the UK the process can be a long one filled with a lot of red-tape.

There are rules and regulations involved that persons are often not aware of before starting the process to get married in the UK.

Free to do so

In order to get married in the UK, you have to be free to do so. That is, you have to be single, divorced or widowed, and not closely related to the person you are seeking to marry. You also have to be more than 18 years old. Persons between 16 and 18 years old of age, are also allowed to get married but must have the permission of their parents or legal guardians.

It is also possible for persons of the same sex to get married in the United Kingdom.

Giving Notice at the Register Office

The standard notice period to get married in the UK is 28 days. This applies to both British and non-British citizens. When giving notice at the Register Office, details of where you intend to marry, have to be included. The notice is then publicly displayed in the register office for the 28 days.

The Register Office needs proof of your name, age, nationality, and proof of address. You will also need to pay the application fee.

If you are divorced, you will need to provide a decree absolute or final order. If you are widowed, you will need to bring the death certificate of your former partner.

In cases where one of the parties to the marriage is a non-EEA national, not exempt from immigration control, the matter may be referred to the UK Home Office.

After giving notice, the couple may proceed to have a religious ceremony or civil ceremony at least 28 days after giving notice, but within one year. Note that these periods differ slightly for Scotland.

Under certain very strict circumstances, it is possible to apply for a shorter notice period of 15 days, but very strict criteria apply.

Special arrangements regarding non-EEA national partners

In cases where one of the parties is from outside the European Economic Area, and subject to immigration control, you have to give the standard 28 days’ notice at the Register office in England and Wales. You will only be able to give notice if you have both lived in England and/or Wales for at least seven days.

Your notice period may then be extended to 70 days if you or your partner:

  • Is a non-EEA national;
  • Has limited or no immigration status in the UK;
  • Cannot provide the registrar with enough evidence to show that you are settled in the UK.

You will be informed within 28 days if your notice period will be extended. If your notice period is extended your proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the UK Home Office. The Home Office may investigate to determine whether the proposed marriage or civil partnership is genuine.

The UK Home Office may decide to conduct an interview or request more information as part of their investigation. It is important to comply with the investigation, or you will not be allowed to get married or form the civil partnership.

The following persons are exempted from the referral to the UK Home Office;

  • British Citizens.
  • EEA Nationals.
  • Foreign Nationals not subject to UK Immigration Control.
  • Persons with settled status or UK Permanent Residence.
  • Persons with Entry Clearance to the UK as a Fiancé or Proposed Civil Partner.

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If you are looking to get married in the UK, and need more information or assistance with visas relating to the marriage, contact Breytenbach’s dedicated team of consultants. Go to www.bic-immigration.com


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