Changes to Marriage Registration


The Government is introducing a new system of registration for marriages, including church weddings, in England and Wales.

From 4 May 2021

This is the modernisation of marriage registration for the first time since 1837, by introducing a marriage schedule system and registration in an electronic register. The process will move away from the current paper register introducing a more secure system for keeping marriage records, that is also more efficient and simple to administer and amend, if necessary in the future.

What won’t change:

• You will still be required to ensure couples meet the requirements to marry in your building.

• You will still be required to ensure couples complete the relevant preliminaries, i.e.: the calling of banns, issue of common or special licence or, where required, the prior attendance of the couple at the relevant register office to give their notices of marriage in the correct timescale.

• You will still be required to conduct pre-marriage checks and confirm that the details contained on the marriage document or marriage schedule are correct before the marriage proceeds.

• The marriage will still be performed by Church of England or Church in Wales rites.

• You will still use registration ink to complete the marriage schedule.

What will change:

• You will be required to create a marriage document or obtain the marriage schedule prior to the date of marriage.

• You will no longer complete the formal register for the marriages you solemnize (There will still be a register kept by you for the records of your church).

• You will no longer issue the legal marriage certificates.

• The completed marriage document or marriage schedule must be returned to the register office for the registration to take place in the electronic marriage register before a certificate can be issued.

• You will no longer need to complete quarterly returns for marriages which take place in your building.

• From 4 May, as clergy will not be issuing marriage certificates, parishes should no longer be charging for them and therefore should not send out invoices after this date.

Please note the access details for the Marriage document was directly to Clergy by Bishop Martin, if you need support please email Michael Robinson.

For further information

Further information and support materials will be available soon. We are looking into ways to make this transition as simple as possible.   

It is expected that the General Register Office will provide training and information for clergy. Details will be announced as soon as possible.

Changes from 1 July 2021

From 1 July 2021, changes will come into effect which bring EEA citizens within scope of the referral and investigation scheme (the referral scheme). This is consistent with wider changes to treat EEA and non-EEA citizens equally within the UK’s future immigration system to reflect the end of free movement.

• Those persons with an immigration status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) or with a pending application to the EUSS will be exempt from the referral scheme, reflecting our obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. Irish citizens will continue to be exempt from the referral scheme.

• All register offices in England and Wales will be designated for the purpose of giving notice and a couple in scope of the referral scheme will be required to give notice together at a designated register office in the district where one or both of the parties reside.

• Any couple including an EEA citizen wishing to marry in the Anglican Church will be required to complete civil preliminaries and give notice at a register office before their marriage.

• EEA citizens will no longer be able to use their national ID card as evidence of nationality when giving notice to marry or form a civil partnership.

• EEA citizens who arrive in the UK will require a mandatory marriage visitor visa if they are travelling to the UK for that purpose. Irish citizens and those with EUSS status will remain exempt from this requirement.


For further information

Please download:

Sham Marriage Changes from 1 July resulting from the end of Free Movement | PDF

Sham Marriage Changes from 1 July | PDF


Page last updated: 10th June 2021 3:31 PM