Marriages & Partnerships
Your guide to getting married or forming a civil partnership in Somerset & North Somerset.
What is Giving Notice, and how does it happen? Here is our step by step guide to the legal requirements of forming your partnership or getting married. You don’t need to have planned your entire wedding from hen do to honeymoon before you get started, but you need to have all the legalities in place at least 28 days before your big day. This guide will tell you what you need to do, and when to do it.
Our online booking system is due to be live again from Friday 14th May. You may book an appointment if your ceremony is within the next 3 months. Please be aware that our staff may cancel appointments booked too far in advance so we can prioritise upcoming urgent cases. Find the booking form link in the How Do I Book An Appointment tab. Thank you for your patience!
What is “Giving Notice”?
It’s the legal declaration that you intend to marry or form a partnership. You will have a private appointment with the Registration Officer to give details of your ceremony date and venue and details about yourself. The notice will then be publicly displayed in the Register Office for 28 days before permission is granted.
You have to give notice of marriage in the district where you live, so get in touch with us if you live in Somerset or North Somerset and intend to get married – even if the ceremony is elsewhere.
When do I need to give notice?
You may give notice up to 1 year in advance, but it must be at least 28 days before your wedding or civil partnership. We normally recommend doing it around 3-6 months before your big day. This means you have time to order essential paperwork in order, if you find you don’t have the right documents, and still gives you flexibility should you need to move your ceremony date by a few weeks or months.
Currently we are booking appointments for ceremonies within the next 3 months while we are managing limited appointment space at our offices due to covid restrictions.
How do I book an appointment?
You may book online for an appointment at any of our Register Offices by clicking the link below. If you’ve had a foreign divorce, you will need to phone us for an appointment and let us know, to ensure we allow enough time to deal with your paperwork.
*** As we are still managing limited appointment space in our office, please only book an appointment for your ceremony if it is within the next 3 months. Our staff may cancel appointments booked too far ahead to make space for urgent cases ***
Remember that you’ll need to have booked your ceremony date and have all the relevant paperwork in place before you can give notice.
What information do I need to provide?
You’ll need to let us know the date and location of your ceremony, so make sure that’s all booked first – both with the venue and with our registrars.
You will both need to provide original documents to confirm your name, age, nationality and marital status.
- a valid British/EEA passport
- if you do not have a valid passport and were born before 1 January 1983 then you must provide a full birth certificate showing parents’ details.
- if you do not have a valid passport and were born after 1 January 1983 you need to bring your own full birth certificate AND your mother’s valid passport or mother’s full birth certificate. You can bring your father’s full birth certificate if he was married to your mother at the time of your birth, or subsequently married her. The reason you need to provide this information is that if you were born before 1 January 1983 nationality was determined on the birth certificate, but if you were born after 1 January 1983 nationality is not proven
- proof of residency in the form of a full or provisional driving license, current year council tax bill, utility bill (dated within 3 months) or bank statement (dated within 1 month).
- proof of marital status – If you have been married before, you’ll need to provide a Decree Absolute, Death Certificate, Dissolution of Civil Partnership document as appropriate. If you are using a Death Certificate, you must be named as the spouse. If you have had a foreign divorce, you’ll need to phone us for an appointment at it may be more complicated to deal with. You do not need to prove that you have never been married.
- if you have changed your name by deed poll or statutory declaration, you must provide original documents.
How much does it cost?
Giving notice costs £35 each for British, EU or EEA citizens. You will need to pay at the time of your appointment, and we accept cash, cheques or cards. For couples where one or both are not British, EU or EEA citizens, please see the related advice below.
What should I do if I don’t live in Somerset?
You need to have lived for at least 7 days in the district where you give notice, but you don’t need to get married in that district. If you’re not a Somerset resident, you should give notice at your local Registration Office. It is possible to establish residency in a district by booking appointments with the registrar a week apart, and give notice at the second appointment. You do not need to stay in that district for the period of time between giving notice and getting married. Couples living abroad often choose to establish residency and give notice on one visit, then return for the ceremony later on.
What should I do if I want to get married outside Somerset?
You should still give notice in Somerset, if this is where you normally live. You must book the time and location with the Registration Office in the area where you intend to marry or form your partnership and enter these details on your notice form. This may apply if you’re planning to form a union abroad. Check the legal requirements of your destination.
What if I’m not a UK citizen?
Following Brexit, changes are due to take place on 1st July 2021 regarding couples planning to marry or form a partnership where one or both are not UK citizens or EU/EEA citizens with settled status. Please see the GOV.uk website for more details on the coming changes. We will update this site nearer the time when we have clear guidance. In the meantime, the following information applies for couples giving notice until the end of June.
If either of you are not British or a citizen of the EU or an EEA country and wish to marry in the UK, you will both need to give notice at a Designated Register Office. A list can be found by following this link. The cost for giving notice at a Designated Register Office is currently £47, and must be done at least 71 days before your ceremony date, instead of the normal 28 days.
Further detailed guidance on visa requirements, fees and conditions can be found on the GOV.uk website.
What if I've had a divorce in another country?
If you have had a foreign divorce you’ll need to book your appointment by phone, not online. The appointment will be slightly longer and may have a different fee. Divorce documents vary from country to country and our registration officers will need to establish the correct procedure once they’ve seen your paperwork. Please provide a professionally translated copy of any foreign documents not originally in English.
Do I need to give notice if I’m having a religious ceremony?
Church of England clergy are authorised Registrars so if you intend to marry in a C of E Church there is no need to give notice with us. Some churches may require a 7 day residency to be established if the church in which you intend to marry is not your usual place of worship.
Marriage ceremonies performed by other religious denominations may require you to give notice at a Registration Office. You may also need to book a Registrar to attend the wedding with a schedule document (formerly a register). Please check specific requirements with your place of worship.
Do we both need to give notice in person?
Yes, you must both give notice to prove that you are both free and legally able to marry or form a partnership with each other. This needs to be done in a face to face interview, in person. It cannot be done online or over Zoom etc. You can give notice separately if it is hard for you both to attend the appointment at the same time.
Do I need to have chosen a venue?
Yes – your marriage or partnership must take place at the venue you have named in your notice. If you change venue, you will need to give notice and pay the fee again. Do have your venue and registrar booking lined up before you book your notice appointment.