Getting married abroad

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A marriage abroad will be legally recognised in the UK providing it was contracted according to the law of the country in which it took place. There is no requirement, or facility, to register the marriage in England afterwards. We therefore suggest you consider obtaining extra marriage certificates, and translations if necessary, whilst abroad.

Preliminaries to a marriage abroad

Marriage law is different in every country and there will be different rules and requirements depending on where you intend to marry. You will need to contact the country’s embassy or local authorities to find out what these are. You may be advised to obtain a ‘Certificate of no impediment’ (CNI) from your local register office. This involves giving notice in the same way that you would if were you marrying in England. Notice can only be given by British nationals. Foreign nationals living in the UK wishing to marry abroad should seek advice from their embassies. A Certificate of no impediment can only be issued for certain countries. To find out more visit GOV.UK.

Questions you may wish to ask the country’s embassy or local authority:

  • Is a Certificate of no impediment required?
  • Does it need to be translated?
  • Does it need to have a stamp of legalisation (an apostille)?
  • How long will it be considered valid for, after it is issued by the Register Office?
  • What other legal preliminaries do I need to fulfil in advance, and on arrival?

If you are marrying in an EU country and require a translated version of your Certificate of No Impediment, you can order a Multilingual Standard Form (MSF) from the General Register Office.

Marriage in Scotland

Marriage law in Scotland is different to England and Wales. If you intend to marry in Scotland notice may be given directly to the district’s Superintendent Registrar, in person or by post.  

For further information contact the National Records of Scotland.

Marriage in Ireland

There is no provision in English law to take a notice for a marriage in Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic. All legal preliminaries must be completed directly with the local authorities.

For further information contact the General Register Office for Northern Ireland or the General Register Office for the Irish Republic.