How to get married in the UK
In order to get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK, the majority of individuals must give at least 28 full days notice at a local register office. ‘Giving notice’ at a Register Office essentially means that a couple gives notice of their intention to marry to each other. To do so, you must have lived in the registration district for at least 7 days prior to giving notice. A list of the designated Register Offices in England and Wales can be found here.
Couples required to give notice include those where a member of the couple is subject to immigration control. For instance, a non-EEA national.
What evidence is required in order to give notice of marriage?
In order to comply with the requirements of ‘giving notice’, each member of the couple must take documents to the Registry Office that prove their name, age and nationality and also proof of their address. For instance you could provide documents such as:
- A passport
- A national ID card (if you are a EEA national)
- Certificate of naturalisation
- Bill (council tax, gas, electricity or water)
- Current lease agreement
What will happen after I have given notice of intention to marry?
Once you have taken the required documents and they have been accepted, your notice will be publicly displayed in the Registry Office for 28 days. This 28 day period of waiting is applicable to anyone in the UK, regardless of nationality or immigration status. It is not possible to marry during this 28 day period.
Under the Immigration Act 2014, a Registry Office is required to inform the Home Office if either member of the couple is not ‘exempt’, meaning exempt from immigration control. Those exempt, for instance, include British citizens, EEA nationals or those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
The purpose of the Registry Office informing the Secretary of State of the proposed marriage is so that the Home Office is then in a position to investigate whether the marriage is a genuine one or not.
If it is decided that your marriage should be investigated, the notice period will be extended to a 70 day period. Again, it is not possible to marry within this 70 day period. It is during this 70 day period that your marriage may be investigated.
Is every marriage investigated?
Not every marriage will be investigated. A list of risk factors exists to determine when it is appropriate to investigate a marriage. Home Office guidance lists some of the following factors as reasonable grounds for further investigation:
- Whether a person is an immigration overstayer
- Whether a person entered the UK illegally
- Whether a person has been convicted of a criminal offence
- Whether a person has previously obtained leave, or sought to do so, on the basis of deception
If any of these factors (along with others published) apply to your circumstances, then the likelihood of being invited for a marriage interview increases.
If I am invited for a marriage interview, what should I expect?
At a marriage interview, you should expect to be asked questions about your relationship with your partner such as where you first met and how your relationship developed. You may also be asked about activities you and your partner enjoy doing together.
It is important to note that refusing to answer particular questions can be deemed as a failure to comply with the investigation.
Legal representation is permitted at a marriage interview, a service which Richmond Chambers can provide. Taking detailed notes of questions asked and corresponding answers is also advisable.
Contact Our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice in relation to a marriage investigation or assistance with challenging a finding of marriage of convenience, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.