January 30, 2020
We participated in Solicitors Chat on Twitter answering questions about getting married abroad and what documentation you need to take with you if you are marrying or entering into a civil partnership abroad.
Luke Stephens, our Trainee Solicitor in our Matrimonial department, was on hand to provide some much needed guidance.
We’ve set out our answers out below:
1. What conditions must be met for a marriage or civil partnership which has taken place abroad to be valid in the UK?
In looking at the conditions for marrying or entering into a civil partnership abroad, it is crucial that you seek advice directly from the country that you wish to marry in.
In order for a foreign marriage to be valid in English law, the following conditions must normally be fulfilled:
- The marriage ceremony must be recognised as a valid form of marriage by the law of the place of celebration. Effectively, all of the conditions in the Country where you married must have been satisfied.
- Each of the parties to the marriage must have the capacity, under the law of the place where he or she is domiciled at the time of the marriage, to marry the other party in the manner proposed.
- Any previous marriage of either party must first have been validly terminated in the eyes of the English law. For UK citizens this will be in the form of obtaining a Decree Absolute.
2. What paperwork do you need to take with you when marrying or entering into a civil partnership abroad?
The legal documentation you require in order to marry abroad will of course vary between jurisdictions. However, the following documents (if applicable to your individual circumstances) will be needed and must be provided in their original form (not photocopied) or as a certified copy:
- For proof of Nationality- (Full birth certificates and Valid 10-year passport with at least six months remaining on it)
- For proof of any name change. (Deed Poll certificate or Change of Name Deed)
- For evidence that any former marriage has ended: (Decree absolute ending a marriage, Civil Partnership Dissolution Certificate and death certificate if former partner is deceased)
- Adoption certificate, if adopted.
3. What are the main issues people run into when marrying abroad?
The UK does not issue Certificates of No Impediment (CNI) for marriages in Commonwealth countries. Therefore, individuals are often caught out on this basis. You will need to explain to the relevant jurisdiction this restriction if you are asked to provide a CNI. A Solicitor can help to provide a letter of clarification in this respect. This again reiterates the importance of contacting your chosen country in advance of planning your marriage or civil partnership.
In any event, it would be advisable to conduct extensive research or approach a Solicitor before making any arrangements to marry abroad.
4. Are there any countries which have special requirements for getting married or entering a civil partnership abroad?
The following documents may also be required in certain jurisdictions:
- A medical test. You may need a blood test or medical examination to marry in countries such as ; Mexico, the United States and Turkey.
- Certificate of No Impediment (CNI). Each party marrying in the relevant jurisdiction (e.g. Cyprus, Greece and Italy) will need a CNI to prove that there is no reason they cannot marry. These can be obtained from a local registry office or national embassy. They can take around a month to issue and last for six months from the date of issue.
- Single Status Statutory Declaration. This document is applicable to people who have never been married. It effectively proves that you are free to marry. The declaration will need to be stamped and certified by a solicitor in the UK. Countries requiring this include Seychelles, Kenya and the Bahamas.
5. What top tips would you give to someone looking at getting married or entering into a civil partnership abroad?
Research – It is crucial that you are ahead of the game in terms of researching the requirements for your chosen destination.
Planning – Many of the documents that will be required will take some time before they arrive. Therefore, planning ahead allows time for any unforeseen issues that may occur and for any alternative plans to be made.
Advice – If you are unsure of any of the specific requirements, it would be wise to seek legal advice from a Solicitor or Legal Executive. They would be able to evaluate the necessary preparations needed.
If you are planning on getting married abroad and would like some more information and advice on the documentation that you require, please contact us to arrange an initial appointment. Call us on 0800 158 4147 and we can help put your mind at ease.