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Ceremonies abroad

If you are planning on getting married abroad there are some things you need to do to make sure your marriage or civil partnership is legal.

First you’ll need to find out the rules in the country where you are getting married. Use the gov.uk tool to check this or contact the relevant consulate or embassy for advice about the documents you’ll need.

If you need to provide a Certificate of No Impediment (legal document showing that you are free to marry or register a civil partnership) you can normally do this through your local register office.

You can apply for a Certificate of No Impediment in Islington if:

  • you are a British subject
  • you live in Islington or the City of London (Islington Council registrars also cover registrations for the City of London Corporation, which is the square mile at the heart of the financial centre in the city. See a mapof the area)
  • your proposed spouse or civil partner is a foreign national
  • the marriage or civil partnership ceremony will be in a foreign country
  • you have lived in Islington for at least the full seven days before the day of your notice appointment
  • you are two resident British subjects (some residence restrictions apply)
  • the marriage or civil partnership ceremony will be in a foreign country.

Apply for a Certificate of No Impediment

You can book an appointment by emailing registrars@islington.gov.uk. Please let us know the following details in your email so we can make sure the appointment is made correctly:

  • Both of your nationalities
  • Both of your current addresses
  • Where (town and country) you are planning to get married/ form a civil partnership
  • When you are planning to get married/ form a civil partnership

You will need to confirm with the foreign country's authorities before the appointment:

  • how the place that you getting married should be listed e.g just the town or city’s name, or the exact building where the ceremony will take place;
  • how long before the ceremony the certificate needs to be issued. This varies by country from a few months to a year.

It usually takes 29 days from the notice appointment to issue the certificate.

Please note

Certificates of no impediment can only be issued for marriages/ civil partnerships taking place abroad. They are not single status documents.

You can only give notice for a certificate of no impediment if you are planning a marriage or civil partnership ceremony to a specific person in a specific country in the next few months. This information is stated on the certificate of no impediment.

If you have been asked for a single status document by another country and you are not planning a marriage or civil partnership, please ask that country’s embassy what else you can supply, as in England, there is no central record of your marital/single status, so the register office cannot give you a single status document.

The General Register Office for England and Wales can issue a letter confirming no trace of marriage record for your name during a set period of time, which may be acceptable for some purposes where a single status document is requested. ‘No trace letters’ cost £50 for each 10 year period from age 16 or when you entered the UK. You will need to specify how many years you need the search to cover and quote reference ‘SEARCH 123’ when contacting them on 0300 1231 837. It can take up to 3 weeks for a ‘no trace letter’ to be issued.

If you need to get your document legalised

The local authority abroad may also request that you get your document legalised. This means getting the UK government to confirm that a UK public official’s signature, seal or stamp on the document is genuine. You can do this through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Legalisation Office by following instructions on gov.uk.

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