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Certificates of No Impediment or Nulla Ostas

If you are planning on marrying overseas, you may be required to provide the local authorities with a certificate of no impediment (CNI) as evidence that you are free and single to marry. Before applying for this, please contact the Embassy of the country concerned to check the documentary requirements. You may find further information and helpful advice on marrying overseas, on the relevant British Embassy website in the country you are planning on marrying in.

If you are resident in the UK, then you will be able to obtain a CNI from your local UK registrar. You should check with the local authorities if they need the British CNI to be exchanged at the nearest British embassy to be acceptable. You should also check whether the documents need to be legalised by the UK Legalisation Office before it will be accepted. More information on legalisation of CNIs and other documents can be found on overseas weddings on the Legalisation pages of this website.

You need to ensure that the date the CNI is issued is not too early. In some cases they are only valid for 3 months before the wedding and if the certificate is issued too soon, you may be asked to provide, and pay for, another one.

However, Register offices in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not able to issue a Certificate of No Impediment to a British national who is marrying an Irish national. In these cases the CNI’s are issued by our British Consulates overseas. Please note your Irish fiancé/e will need to contact the Irish authorities in order to obtain a similar certificate for themselves.

When resident overseas you can apply for this certificate through the nearest British Consulate. When resident here in the UK, you will need to apply for this through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our processing time here in London is 20 working days. You should therefore allow plenty of time when making the application. We do not have any facilities to fast-track applications. We do not have facilities to accept personal callers into the office and as a result ALL applications are dealt with by post. Please refrain from contacting us until 20 working days have passed.

We will send you an acknowledgement letter and return your supporting documents, within the 20 working days. The application will then be forwarded to the relevant British Consulate for them to issue the certificate in the local language. The certificate is normally valid for three months prior to your marriage, however please check with the person who will be conducting the service in case you need the certificate issuing sooner.

The fee for this service is currently £59. (Please note that Consular fees are subject to change). Payment methods that are accepted are Bankers Drafts or Postal Order made payable to “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office”. Please note we no longer accept personal cheques.

If you wish to apply for this service, please follow the steps outlined below and print off and complete the application form below, making sure you enclose all the supporting documentation shown on the checklist. To process the application, we are required to see evidence of the nationality status of the person who is wishing to obtain the certificate. Therefore, you will need to submit original documents including 2 sets of photocopies. Original documents will be returned to you by post and we recommend that you include a self-addressed pre-paid “Special Delivery” envelope for this. Incomplete applications will automatically be returned to the sender and this will delay your application.

Step one
To obtain this certificate through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, you should give a public announcement of your intended marriage by means of a notice inserted in one edition of a local newspaper in the district where you live. Attached to the application form below is a specimen with the correct wording the announcement should take. If you do not use this wording, the application may not be processed and you will have to place another announcement in the newspaper using the correct wording.

Step two
An affidavit must be sworn, before a Commissioner for Oaths. Again there is a specimen affidavit attached to the application form with the correct wording this should take. The affidavit, which should bear the official stamp of the Commissioner for Oaths. If previously married, paragraph 4 of the Affidavit should be deleted.

Step three
Complete the relevant application form below, including:

  • Full-length UK birth certificate (which includes the names of parents). If born outside the UK, a consular birth certificate OR a foreign birth certificate, together with the father’s birth certificate and marriage certificate OR a certificate of naturalisation.

  • Current British passport. We are only able to offer this service to people who hold a current British passport. If you will be needing your British passport in order to travel, a certified copy of the bio-date page is acceptable. This should be certified by a UK solicitor or a notary public registered with the Law Society.

  • If you have been previously married, documentary evidence of the termination of that marriage – a divorce decree or death certificate or previous spouse.

  • If you are under the age of 18, written consent from both your parents or your legal guardian.

  • If you have changed your name, a deed poll showing the change in name.

  • Copy of your financé/e’s passport

  • Affidavit

  • Whole page of the newspaper in which the notice appears

  • Step four
    Provided no objection to your proposed marriage is notified to us within three weeks of the publication of the notice, we will ask the relevant British Consulate to issue the Certificate of No Impediment and send it to the relevant authority who will be performing the marriage ceremony.

    A note about marriages of British nationals overseas is attached to the application form, which you may find useful.

    If you are marrying in Italy, you should complete the ‘Nulla Osta’ application form.

    PDF Certificates of No Impediment Form  (PDF, 23 KB)

    PDF Nulla Osta Form  (PDF, 23 KB)