Changes to marriage registration

Registering your marriage

From 4 May 2021, you will be asked to sign a marriage schedule/document at your ceremony, rather than a marriage register.

We will use this document to enter your marriage in an electronic marriage register.

Paper marriage registers will no longer be used by Registrars attending civil ceremonies or ceremonies taking place at churches and places of worship.

How you will receive your marriage certificate

If you are having a civil ceremony, you will have purchased your certificates when you booked the Registrars to attend your ceremony.

If your ceremony is taking place in a church/religious building, you must purchase your certificates after  your ceremony from the Register Office in the area of marriage, as the Authorised Person at the church/religious building cannot produce your certificates for you.  To purchase certificates visit our copy certificates page.

Once we have entered your marriage into the electronic register, we will produce and post your certificate to you within seven days of the schedule/document being returned to our office. You will no longer receive a marriage certificate at the ceremony. All certificates will be produced electronically and are no longer handwritten.

If your ceremony is taking place with Registrars in attendance, then they will return the marriage schedule to the office.

Where we are not in attendance at the ceremony, for example at most church ceremonies, the Authorised Person at the church is responsible for ensuring the signed marriage schedule/document is returned to our registration office. The authorised person conducting your ceremony has the full details on how to return your signed marriage schedule/document.

Why the process is changing

The introduction of the electronic register on 4 May 2021 gives the couple the opportunity to add parents (mother/father/parent) to their marriage certificate, instead of only their fathers’ names, which is currently the case.

The Marriages, Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration Etc.) Act 2019 modernises how marriages are registered for the first time since 1837, through issue of a marriage schedule system and registration in an electronic register.

We are implementing a new system rather than updating the old system because it would be too costly to amend/replace all open marriage registers, blank certificates and associated paperwork.

Information for places of worship

The General Register Office is publishing information and training for places of worship and the Clergy. GRO also publishes Authorised Person newsletters - GOV.UK and a GRO leaflet for the Clergy (PDF 267KB).

From 4 May 2021 places of worship will need to return their Marriage Register to the register office. We will contact places of worship in Redbridge to arrange the return of registers and certificates of marriage to ensure this is completed correctly and efficiently.

Marriage of British Subjects Facilities Acts (BSFA)

There will no longer be any provision to give notice to marry in countries that were formerly covered by these acts and therefore transitional arrangements will apply to couples who have already  given notice to marry here or in one of the relevant countries after the implementation date. 

For BSFA notices given in advance of the implementation date,  for a marriage in one the countries covered by these acts an Authority may still issue their certificate, subject to the usual caveats about marrying in these countries.  On or after the implementation date, couples will need to speak to the High Commissions of the countries concerned for further advice. 

For BSFA notices given abroad for marriages in England and Wales then both parties will need to give notice under the Marriage Schedule System, most likely at a Designated Register Office and may in some instances need to apply for a waiver.