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Travel & living abroad

Marriage and civil partnerships

Marriage 

The legal paperwork you need to complete for an overseas wedding can be confusing. Fortunately we can help you to get the documents you need. The local British embassy’s website has specific information.

Please note that we don't have offices in every country - particularly small islands such as the Maldives.  But there will be an embassy or consualte in a nearby country which can help.  For example, our High Commission in Sri Lanka covers the Maldives.  Check the travel advice for the country you wish to get marrried in.

You should always contact a lawyer in the UK and the local authorities abroad. You could also contact the embassy of the country you wish to get married in - see our list of foreign embassies in the UK 

What documents do I need to get married abroad?

To find out exactly what you need to get married overseas, you will need to contact the authorities of the relevant country. See the list of foreign embassies in the UK.

You might also have to exchange the UK CNI for a Consular CNI at the embassy. The CNI and other documents may also need legalising the UK Legalisation Office.

  • if you’re marrying an Irish national you must obtain a CNI from the FCO office in London or the local consulate
  • if you’re marrying in Italy you need to obtain a specific form, a Nulla Osta (an Italian CNI) from the nearest British consulate
  • if you’re marrying in France you may need a Certificate of Custom Law - consult the local Mairie for more info

If I get married abroad will my marriage be legal in the UK?

You should consult a lawyer to check as sometimes marriages conducted in other countries aren’t recognised in the UK.

Can I get a British marriage certificate if I marry abroad?

No, you will get a certificate of marriage from the country you marry in.

Can I register an overseas marriage in the UK when I return?

No, but you can have your marriage documents deposited with the General Register Office (GRO).  

This isn’t compulsory, but it means your marriage certificate is kept by the GRO as an official record and you will be able to easily get copies of it in the future.  

We can deposit marriage documents for you.

Please note: you’ll need to get your documents translated if they’re not in English.

Can my foreign partner get a British passport once we’re married?

If you and your partner settle in the UK after marriage your partner can apply for naturalisation after three years. The Nationality Directorate of the UK Border Agency can provide more information on this

 

Civil Partnerships 

The legal paperwork you need to hold a civil partnership ceremony overseas can be confusing. Fortunately we can help you to get the documents you need.

The local British embassy’s website has specific info and the marriage and civil partnerships abroad page has useful advice.

You should always contact a lawyer in the UK and the local authorities abroad – list of foreign embassies in the UK.

Will my civil partnership be legal in the UK?

For a list of countries where relationships are automatically recognised as civil partnerships please look on the Government Equalities website

We cannot advise if an overseas same sex partnership ceremony is valid in the UK and would recommend persons seeking such advice to consult a lawyer. However, generally speaking if a ceremony is considered legal in the country where the ceremony was performed it is assumed to be legal in the UK.

What documents do I need to enter into a civil partnership abroad?

In some countries you’ll need to provide a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) – the local British embassy’s website will tell you this.  

You may also need to exchange the UK CNI for a Consular CNI at the British embassy.

The CNI and other documents may also need to be legalised by the UK Legalisation Office.

Can I get a British civil partnership certificate if I marry abroad?

No, you will get a certificate of civil partnership from the country you hold the ceremony in.

Can I register an overseas civil partnership in the UK when I return?

No, but you can have your civil partnership documents deposited with the General Register Office (GRO).  

This isn’t compulsory, but it means your certificate is kept by the GRO as an official record. We can deposit your certificate for you.

Please note: you’ll need to get your documents translated if they’re not in English.

Can my foreign partner get a British passport once we’re in a civil partnership?

If you and your partner settle in the UK after entering a civil partnership your partner can apply for naturalisation after three years. The Nationality Directorate of the UK Border Agency can provide more information on this.

Certificates of No Impediment and Nulla Ostas

Information on obtaining Certificates of No Impediment and Nulla Ostas for marriages and civil partnerships abroad, including special arrangements for marrying an Irish national

Getting married in France?

Information how to apply for a certificate of custom law (certificat de coutume) which you may need to get married or hold a civil partnership in France.

Depositing marriage and civil partnership documents in the UK

This page tells you how to deposit marriage or civil partnership certificates from overseas with the General Register Office

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