News story

Marriage certificate registry service discontinued for overseas Brits

From 1 January 2014, British nationals overseas will no longer be able to deposit foreign marriage or civil partnership documents with the General Register Office (GRO).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

From 1 January 2014 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) will discontinue its service of depositing foreign marriage and civil partnership certificates with the General Register Offices in the UK.

British nationals overseas will need to make their own arrangements for the safekeeping of these certificates, as they do for other important documents

Why has the decision been made to stop this service?

This change is being introduced as part of our 2013-16 Consular Strategy. As the strategy makes clear, Consular Excellence is about high-quality, modern, cost effective and efficient support to British Nationals overseas.

This change will help make better use of our scarce resources and modernise the way we deliver these services. This will allow us to concentrate on front-line consular work, providing more support to our vulnerable customers including, for example, minors, the elderly, people with mental health problems, and victims of serious crime abroad.

There is no legal requirement to deposit your foreign marriage or civil partnership certificate with the GRO, or to have your marriage/civil partnership recorded in the UK. The deposit of a foreign certificate does not make the marriage legal in the UK, nor does it ‘recognise’ the marriage as a valid one.

The validity in UK law of a marriage or civil partnership contracted in a foreign country is in no way affected by its having been, or not having been, recorded in the UK.

For further information please see our Q & A document (MS Word Document, 19.1 KB).

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Published 1 October 2013