Marry in the UK

If you are in the UK, before giving a registrar notice to marry or register your civil partnership you will need to have settled status in the UK or obtain a Certificate of Approval.

The rule on Certificate of Approval is mandatory for those people:-

  • who are subject to immigration control; or
  • do not have Leave to Enter; or
  • do not have Leave to Remain in the UK.

However Certificate of Approval is not required if you are:-

  • a British Citizen;
  • an EEA National;
  • family member of an EEA national and have the right of residence in the UK but you are not yourself an EEA national;
  • have in your passport a certificate of entitlement giving you right of abode in the United Kingdom;
  • or you are not subject to immigration control.

Q. Do I have to pay fees to the Home Office for this application?

The Home Office has suspended the application fee for Certificate of Approval since 9th April 2009. We can assist you in getting your fee refunded if you have made an application for Certificate of Approval between 1st February 2005 and 8th April 2009.

If you are in the UK and you are not sure as to how you should get married then please contact us for further advice.

 

Abolition of the Certificate of Approval scheme

 

07 April 2011

On 4 April 2011 Parliament approved the Remedial Order that will abolish the certificate of approval scheme. This means that the scheme will end on 9 May 2011.

At present, any migrant who is already in the UK and is subject to immigration control must apply for a certificate of approval before they can get married or register a civil partnership in this country (unless they are getting married within the Anglican Church).

The government is now seeking to remedy the declaration by the UK courts that the scheme is incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights (read with Article 12). Additionally, changes made following rulings from the courts have weakened the scheme, and it is no longer an effective method of preventing sham marriage.

Entering into a sham marriage does not entitle migrants to any right to remain in the UK. The UK Border Agency will continue to investigate suspected abuse and, where possible, disrupt marriages before they take place. If we uncover marriages that are not genuine, we will challenge them and prosecute where possible.

Do you still need to apply for a certificate of approval if you want to get married or register a civil partnership?

The certificate of approval scheme remains in operation until the Remedial Order comes into force on 9 May. Migrants who are subject to immigration control must follow the current application process until further notice.

When will the scheme be abolished?

The scheme will end on 9 May 2011.

I want to marry in summer 2011. Will I still need a certificate of approval?

No. Now that parliament has approved the Remedial Order, the government will end the scheme on 9 May. There will be no legal requirement to obtain a certificate of approval after that date.

When will we stop processing certificate of approval applications?

We will continue to process applications until the scheme legally ends.

When will we return certificate of approval applications and documents such as passports?

We will start returning applications and documents as soon as the scheme legally ends.

In some cases we may want to retain documents to undertake enforcement activity (if, for example, we find that you have no valid permission to enter or remain in the UK). If your documents are retained, we will notify you by letter.

Can you withdraw your application before 9 May?

You can withdraw your application at any time, but you should be aware that the scheme remains in force until the abolition date.

To request the return of your documents before 9 May, send a fax to the COA team on 020 8196 3831 or write to:

Ms M Wilkes,
9th Floor,
Lunar House,
40 Wellesley Road,
Croydon CR9 2BY.

Requests must be clearly headed ‘COA WITHDRAWAL’.

I want to get married in a civil ceremony and I am subject to immigration control. When the scheme is abolished, will I still need to give notice of my marriage or civil partnership in a designated register office?

Yes. The requirement to give notice in a designated register office is not affected by the abolition of the certificate of approval scheme. The requirement will remain in force when the scheme is abolished.

There will be some changes for migrants wishing to give notice to marry or register a civil partnership when the scheme ends. These changes are set out below.

Changes to marriage/civil partnership requirements

From 9 May, any migrant subject to immigration control wishing to give notice to marry or register a civil partnership in the UK will no longer need:

  • a certificate of approval or,
  • an entry clearance for the purpose of marriage or registering a civil partnership or,
  • settled status in the UK.

Requirements which are unchanged

Migrants who are subject to immigration control will still need to:

  • give notice to marry or register a civil partnership in a designated register office. Migrants who wish to give notice at a non-designated register office will need to provide evidence that they are not subject to immigration control.
  • meet other existing requirements for giving notice e.g. evidence of nationality, name and surname and date of birth and that they are free to marry. Contact the registration service for more details about these requirements.

Waiting times

When the scheme ends, there may be an increase in demand to give notice to marry or register a civil partnership. Migrants wishing to marry or register a civil partnership should take this into account when seeking to book appointments with the registration service.

Immigration requirements

Immigration entry requirements for the purpose of marrying or registering a civil partnership in the UK are unchanged by the ending of the certificate of approval scheme.

Any person wishing to come to the UK to marry or register a civil partnership will still need to

  • obtain the correct entry clearance before they travel to the UK to marry or register a civil partnership (or give notice)

Failure to obtain the correct entry clearance may result in admission to the UK being refused. Further information about entry clearance requirements can be found in our visa services section.