Marriages and civil partnerships in the UK

5. Foreign nationals

If either of you is from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland and subject to immigration control, you or your partner will need a visa to come to the UK to:

  • give notice
  • get married or form a civil partnership

This includes people who don’t normally need visas for general visits (unless you’re already in the UK).

Once in the UK (or if you’re already in the UK), you and your partner must give at least 28 days’ notice at a designated register office if both the following apply to either of you:

  • you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • you’re subject to immigration control

The process is different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

There will be no change to the rights and status of EU nationals living in the UK, nor UK nationals living in the EU, while the UK remains in the EU.

Get a visa if you’re outside the UK

The application process is different depending on your partner’s circumstances.

If your partner is from the UK or settled in the UK

Apply for a family of a settled person visa (eg, as a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner) if you intend to stay in the UK for more than 6 months.

Apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa for a stay of less than 6 months.

If your partner is from the EEA (excluding UK) or Switzerland

If your partner is a permanent UK resident (ie has a ‘document certifying permanent residence’), you can apply for a family of a settled person visa.

If your partner isn’t a permanent UK resident, you can apply for an EEA family permit to accompany or join your partner in the UK. You’ll usually have to prove that you and your partner have lived together in a relationship for at least 2 years.

If your partner is not from the UK, Switzerland or EEA, and not settled in the UK

Apply for a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa. You’ll have to leave the UK within 6 months.

Giving notice

Both you and your partner must give at least 28 days’ notice at a designated register office in England and Wales.

You can only give notice if you’ve both lived in England and Wales for at least 7 days.

If you’re both exempt from immigration control you need to give notice at your local register office. You’ll need to show evidence of why you’re exempt, eg you have right of abode.

When your notice period can be extended

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

  • are from outside the EEA or Switzerland
  • have limited or no immigration status in the UK
  • don’t give the registrar enough evidence to show you’re settled in the UK

You’ll be told within 28 days if your notice period will be extended.

The registrar will tell you if this applies to you and your proposed marriage or civil partnership will be referred to the Home Office. The Home Office may investigate to make sure your marriage or civil partnership is genuine.

You may be interviewed by the Home Office or asked for more information as part of the investigation. You must comply with the investigation or you won’t be allowed to get married or form a civil partnership.

You must also tell the Home Office if you change your address during the notice period.

Documents you need

You need to take proof of your name, date of birth, nationality and address to the designated register office.

You’ll also be asked about your partner’s immigration status if they’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland (or your partner will be asked about your status if you’re from outside the EEA or Switzerland).

Fees and conditions

You will have to pay a notice fee of £35 if your passport or immigration document shows that you:

  • have settled status in the UK, eg indefinite leave to remain
  • are exempt from immigration control, eg right of abode
  • have a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor visa (you both must also bring a passport sized photograph)
  • a fiancé, fiancée or proposed civil partner visa (you both must also bring a passport sized photograph)
  • have an EU right of permanent residence in the UK

If you don’t have any of the above documents, you’ll have to pay a fee of £47 and give:

  • details of your normal address if it’s different from the address you’ve used to give notice
  • details of a UK contact address if your normal address is outside the UK
  • details of any previous names and current or previous names or identities that you’ve been known as
  • a passport sized photograph