Wedding Abroad - Legal Considerations

Overseas marriages are legal in the UK, provided they comply with the marriage laws of the country you have got married in. However, overseas marriage cannot be ‘registered’ here in the UK. An exception to this is where one of the couple is a serving member of, or is attached to, the British Armed Forces at the time of the marriage. This should be discussed with the Forces prior to the marriage-taking place.

If, however, this is not the case, provided one or both of you is a British citizen, and your wedding has taken place in one of the countries from which the General Register Office (GRO) can accept formal notifications, (these are referred to as ‘Article 7 marriages’. Please view the list of countries from which overseas certificates >> can be accepted),  a ‘record’ can be created for your overseas marriage by depositing the marriage certificate along (with translations if applicable) in the GRO. 

This record can be created at anytime after your marriage ceremony. In order to have your marriage certificate deposited you will need to specifically contact the GRO in the UK, and the British Embassy in the country you were married, as this is not an automatic process, and state that you wish to deposit your marriage certificate with the GRO.

You will need to provide the British Embassy, in the country where you got married, with a certified copy of your marriage certificate, which will have been duly authenticated by the local authority. They will then translate the certificate, possibly subject to a fee. The British Consular General will then forward the certificate, along with an accompanying note, to the GRO in the UK, again subject to a fee. 

Once the documents have been received by the GRO you will be notified. The documents are then held with the GRO and from then onwards a copy of your marriage certificate can be requested, should the need arise.

Always check the exact rules and regulations during you wedding preparation.

For further guidance please visit the General Register Office >> and Foreign and Commonwealth Office >>

Also take a moment to read our Getting Married Abroad document.