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Marriage in England and Wales

Any couple wishing to marry in England and Wales must observe certain preliminaries, which include residence requirements.

Civil marriage

For civil weddings, both parties to a marriage must generally have lived in a registration district for at least seven days immediately before giving notice of marriage.

Marriage in the Church of England or Church in Wales

For marriages in the Church of England, the residence requirements were amended on 1 October 2008 and for marriages in the Church in Wales the residence requirements were amended on 18 March 2010. Until the amendments took effect, a couple could generally marry only in the parish church of a parish where one or both of them were resident, or one or both of them had their names on the church electoral roll. However, the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008 (in relation to Church of England marriages) and the Marriage (Wales) Act 2010 (for Church in Wales marriages) now provide for a couple to have the same right to marry in the parish church of a parish with which one or both of them can show a “qualifying connection”. 

A couple wishing to marry in another church which is not allowed for in the new legislation, may, with the agreement of the Minister of that church, apply for a Special Licence, which, if granted, allows a marriage to take place in any place without any residence requirement.

Non-Anglican Christian marriages and all other religious marriages

Generally, other forms of religious marriage must be preceded by the civil notice preliminaries and the same residence requirements apply as for civil marriage.

Marriage of foreign nationals

Anyone from outside the EEA or Switzerland and subject to immigration control, and the person they intend to marry, must give notice of marriage at a designated register office. The notice period may be extended from 28 days to 70 days in certain circumstances. This process is called the referral and investigation scheme.  This notice requirement and process applies to both civil and religious marriage and across the UK.

Marriage in Scotland

Section 3 of this paper provides brief information about the position in Scotland where notice of marriage must be given but there are no general residence requirements.

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