Either of the partners may need a visa to come to the United Kingdom to get married or form a civil partnership.
It would apply if either you or your partner come from outside of the EEA or Switzerland and subject to immigration control.
You would need to get a UK visa to give notice to a register office before getting married or forming a civil partnership.
Note: It would also include people who would not usually need visas for a general visit (unless they are already in the United Kingdom).
You would both need to give at least 28 days of notice while you are in the United Kingdom. You must use one of the designated register offices in England and Wales if both of these apply to either of the partners:
- You are from outside of the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
- You are subject to immigration control in the United Kingdom.
Some processes for immigration control differ for foreign nationals getting married in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.
Note: The rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK will remain unchanged until 2021. The scheme to apply for settled status for EU citizens and their families beyond June 2021 starts in full from March 2019.
Getting a Visa from Outside the United Kingdom
The circumstances of your partner will determine which application process to use. In most cases, it will depend on where they are applying from.
Partner is from UK (or settled here)
- Staying in the UK for more than 6 months: Apply for a UK family visa (e.g. as a fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner).
- Staying in the UK for less than 6 months: Apply for a Marriage Visitor visa (includes civil partnerships).
Partner is from EEA or Switzerland (excluding UK)
- If one partner is a permanent UK resident: Apply for a UK family visa of a settled person visa.
- If one partner is not a permanent UK resident: You can apply for a family permit to join your partner in the UK. As a rule, you would need to prove that you have both lived together in a relationship for at least two (2) years.
Partner Not from the UK, EEA, or Switzerland
- Apply for a Marriage Visitor visa (includes civil partnerships) if you are not settled in the United Kingdom. But, you would need to leave the UK within six (6) months.
Foreign Nationals Giving Notice
Both partners need to give at least 28 days of notice at a designated register office. But, you must have both lived in England and Wales for at least 7 days to do so.
Note: Give notice at your local register if both of you are exempt from immigration control. But, you would need to show some evidence of why you have an exemption (e.g. citizen right of abode).
Extending the Notice Period
Some situations allow you to extend your notice period for up to 70 days. To qualify, one of the partners should:
- Be from outside of the EEA or Switzerland.
- Have limited or no immigration status in the United Kingdom.
- Be unable to give the registrar enough evidence to show that you are settled in the UK.
Note: They will confirm within the 28 day notice period whether your situation qualifies for the extension.
The registrar will inform you whether it applies to you or not. They may also refer your proposed marriage or civil partnership to the Home Office. They might then conduct an investigation to check the relationship is genuine.
The Home Office may interview you or ask you for extra information as part of an investigation. Failing to comply means your marriage or civil partnership cannot go ahead. You must also inform the Home Office if your address changes during the notice period.
You will need to take some documents to the designated register office. They will need to see proof of your name, your date of birth, your nationality and your address.
They will ask you about the immigration status of your partner if they are from outside the EEA (or Switzerland). Likewise, they will ask your partner about your status if you are from outside the EEA or Switzerland.
Notice Fees and Immigration Conditions
There is a notice fee of £35 to pay. It would apply if your passport or your immigration document shows that you:
- Have settled status in the United Kingdom (e.g. indefinite leave to remain).
- Are exempt from immigration control (e.g. you have right of abode).
- Have a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa (you would both need to take a passport sized photograph).
- Have a fiancé, fiancée, or proposed civil partner visa (you would both need to take a passport sized photograph).
- Have an EU right of permanent residence for the United Kingdom.
What happens if you do not hold any of these documents? In this case, you would need to pay a fee of £47 and then give:
- A passport sized photograph.
- Details of your usual address (if different from the address used when giving notice to the register office).
- Details of a United Kingdom contact address (if your usual address is outside of the UK).
- Details of any previous names or identities (current or previous) that you have been known as.