Licence

Approval of premises for civil marriage and civil partnership (England and Wales)

Apply for this licence

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For example SW1A 2AA

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Overview

Apply to your council for a ‘grant of approval’ to hold civil marriages and civil partnerships.

The grant of approval will be valid for a minimum of 3 years. You can apply to renew your grant of approval if it expires in less than a year.

Conditions

You need to identify a specific room or rooms where weddings or civil partnerships take place. You can have outside space where weddings or civil partnerships take place if both of the following apply:

  • you also identify a specific room or rooms inside
  • the outdoor space is within the grounds of the building

The council must be happy that the premises are ‘seemly and dignified’ and that they will be regularly available for marriages or civil partnerships.

The premises must also have all the necessary fire and safety provisions required by the local council.

You must:

  • appoint someone suitable to make sure all conditions are followed
  • give this person’s details to the council after you get the licence
  • tell the council if the person’s details change
  • tell the council about any change to the premises, for example name or layout
  • make sure that the superintendent registrar or local registration authority or registrar has approved all wedding or civil partnership arrangements before the proceedings take place
  • make sure your premises can be inspected at reasonable times
  • display a notice at every public entrance that the premises are approved 1 hour before and during the proceedings, with directions to the exact location
  • make sure that there’s no food or alcoholic drinks sold or consumed in the specified area 1 hour before and during the proceedings

You also need to make sure that the proceedings:

  • only take place in the specified area
  • do not have any religious content (for example music or readings)
  • are freely open to the public

There may also be other specific requirements for your grant of approval (for example your council may ask you to provide space for car parking).

Further information about the process for approving premises as venues for civil marriages and partnerships.

Religious premises

Civil marriages cannot be conducted anywhere with current or recent religious connections - for example you cannot get a grant of approval for a chapel in a stately home.

Civil partnerships can be conducted on religious premises approved for this purpose. However, any application for a grant of approval must be subject to the consent of the faith group’s governing body.

Faith groups are under no legal obligation to allow their premises to be used for civil partnerships.

Further information about civil partnerships on religious premises.

How to apply

Send the following to the council:

  • details of yourself and your venue
  • a plan of the building showing the inside room or rooms where ceremonies will be held, and the boundaries of the grounds where outdoor ceremonies can be held (if applicable)
  • any other documents they require, for example a copy of your public liability insurance certificate
  • the fee (this depends on your council)

The council will inspect the premises.

Penalties

You may lose your grant of approval if you do not follow these requirements, or if the council feels that your venue is no longer appropriate.