Who can be married in Scotland
Types of marriages
How and when to give notice
Arrangements for the ceremony
If you live in England or Wales
If your Domiciled outside the UK
Degrees of relationships
- Minimum age 16 years old. No parental consent required.
- No residency requirements
- By law both parties to a proposed civil or religious marriage are required to submit marriage notice forms to the registrar of the district in which the marriage is to take place informing him of their intention to marry.
- Forms for giving notice can be obtained from any registrar of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland.
- Notice must be given in the three-month period prior to the date of marriage and NOT LATER than 15 days before that date.
WHO CAN BE MARRIED IN SCOTLAND
Any two persons, regardless of where they live, may marry in Scotland provided that:
- both persons are at least 16 years of age on the day of their marriage.
- they are not related to one another in a way which would prevent their marrying.
- they are unmarried (any person who has already been married must produce documentary evidence that the previous marriage has been ended by death, divorce or annulment).
- they are not the same sex.
- they are capable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony and of consenting to marriage.
- the marriage would be regarded as valid in any foreign country to which either party belongs.
TYPES OF MARRIAGE
You can be married in either of two ways in Scotland - by a religious ceremony or by a civil ceremony:
- A religious marriage, whether Christian or non-Christian, may be solemnised only by a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or the other person entitled to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977.
- A civil marriage may be solemnised only by a registrar or an assistant registrar who has been authorised by the Registrar General for that purpose.
HOW AND WHEN TO GIVE NOTICE
You can each obtain a marriage notice form, and information about fees, from any registrar of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland. In most cases you can get the address of your local registrar from the telephone directory.
- Each of you must complete and submit a marriage notice, along with the required documents and the appropriate fee, to the registrar for the district in which the marriage is to take place.
- Timing is important. The notices must be submitted early enough to enable the registrar to satisfy himself that you are free to marry one another. Normally notices should be in his hands about FOUR weeks before the marriage but if either party has been married before, the notices should be with the registrar SIX weeks beforehand. The mimimum period is 15 days before the date of the proposed marriage, but if you leave things as late as this you could be faced with the need to postpone your marriage.
- Only in exceptional circumstances will the Registrar General authorise a marriage to take place if 15 days' notice has not been given.
- Although you need not attend personally at the registrar's office to hand in your marriage notice, at least one of the parties must attend personally before the date of your marriage. This is necessary, in the case of a religious marriage, to collect the marriage schedule or, in the case of a civil marriage, to finalise arrangements with the registrar. Personal attendance is necessary at this stage because the registrar will need further information before the marriage can proceed.
- Every person giving notice is required to sign a declaration to the effect that the particulars and information given on the notice are correct. As a safeguard against bigamous marriages a subsequent check of the information is made centrally.
- Persons related in any of the ways listed in the Forbidden Marriages paragraph at the end of this guide will each require to sign a separate declaration form, which like the marriage notice form is obtainable from any registrar of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland.
DOCUMENTS TO BE PRODUCED
When giving or sending the marriage notice forms to the registrar each of you must supply the following:
- Your birth certificate
- If you have been married before the marriage was dissolved, a certificate of divorce or annulment or a certified copy decree. A decree of divorce granted outwith Scotland must be absolute or final - a decree nisi is not acceptable.
- If you are a widow or widower, the death certificate of your former spouse.
- If you and the person you are marrying are related in any of the ways listed in paragraph 2b, death certificates are required of the persons mentioned in footnote (b).
- If your domicile is abroad, a certificate of no impediment issued by the competent authority to the effect that you are free to marry - see IF YOU ARE DOMICILED OUTSIDE THE UNITED KINGDOM.
- If any of these documents is in a language other than English, a certified translation in English must also be provided.
- Do not delay in giving notice simply because you are waiting for any of the documents mentioned above to come to hand. If time is getting short it is better to give notice first then pass on the documents to the registrar when they become available; but they must be made available to the registrar before the marriage. Provided the documents are in order the marriage can proceed as arranged.
MAKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE MARRIAGE CEREMONY
It is important to make early arrangements for the date and time of your marriage.
- If you are having a religious ceremony go and see the minister or clergyman who is to take the service, before completing the notice of marriage.
- For a civil marriage make advance arrangements with the registrar. This is particularly important in towns and cities, where large numbers of people want to be married at certain times of the year.
- Arrange for two persons, aged 16 years or over, to be present at your marriage to act as witnesses. They are required whether it is a religious or civil ceremony.
- Be sure to let the clergyman or the registrar know if you change your plans or decide to postpone your marriage.
THE MARRIAGE SCHEDULE
When he is satisfied there is no legal impediment to the marriage, the registrar will prepare a Marriage Schedule from the information you have given him. The Schedule is a most important document - no marriage can proceed without it.
- If you are having a religious marriage the Marriage Schedule will be issued to you by the registrar. The Schedule cannot be issued more than seven days before the marriage and the registrar will advise you when to call. The Schedule cannot be collected on your behalf by a relative or friend - the registrar will issue it only to the prospective bride or bridegroom.
- The marriage Schedule must be produced before the marriage ceremony to the person performing the marriage.
- Immediately after the ceremony the Schedule must be signed by both parties, by the person performing the marriage and by two witnesses. Thereafter it must be returned to the registrar within three days so that he can register the marriage.
- If you are having a civil marriage a Marriage Schedule will not be issued but the registrar will have it available at the marriage ceremony for signature. Subsequently he will register the marriage.
- A fee for the civil marriage is payable to the registrar in advance.
After the marriage has been registered you can obtain copies of the marriage certificate from the registrar on payment of the appropriate fee.
IF YOU LIVE IN ENGLAND AND WALES
- As an alternative to the normal procedure of giving notice to a registrar in Scotland, if you intend to marry
(i) a person residing in Scotland, or
(ii) a person residing in England or Wales who has a parent residing in Scotland,
you may give notice of marriage to the superintendent registrar in the district of England or Wales in which you reside. The person you are marrying should, however, give notice in Scotland in the usual way.
- You should seek the advice of the superintendent registrar if you wish to proceed in this way. The certificate for marriage obtained from him should be sent to the Scottish registrar as quickly as possible.
IF YOU ARE DOMICILED OUTSIDE THE UNITED KINGDOM
The normal procedure of giving notice to the registrar in Scotland must be followed but as previously mentioned an additional requirement is placed upon you.
- If, being domiciled in a country outside the UK, you are subject to the marriage laws of that country you should obtain if practicable, a certificate issued by the competent authority (usually the civil authority) in that country to the effect that there is no impediment to your proposed marriage. If the certificate is in a language other than English you should also produce a certified translation.
- If the absense of such a certificate without good reason being shown, it may not be possible for you to marry in Scotland.
- If you are now resident in the UK and have lived here for the last 2 years or more you need not submit such a certificate.
- If you are in any doubt about what is required further information, you should consult the registrar or write to the Registrar General at the address shown at the bottom.
FORBIDDEN MARRIAGESDEGREES OF RELATIONSHIP
- Relationships by consanguinity
A man may not marry his: A woman may not marry her: Mother Father Daughter Son Grandmother Grandfather Granddaughter Grndson Sister Brother Aunt Uncle Niece Nephew Great-grandmother Great-grandfather Great-granddaughter Great-grandson
- Relationships of affinity
a. Except in the circumstances explained in note (a) below -
A man may not marry his: A woman may not marry her: Former wife's daughter or granddaughter Former husband's son or grandson Father's or grandfather's former wife Mother's or grandmother's former husband
b. Except in the circumstances explained in note (b) below -
A man may not marry his: A woman may not marry her: Former wife's mother Former husband's father Son's former wife Daughter's former husband
- Relationships by adoption
A man may not marry his: A woman may not marry her: Adoptive mother or former adoptive mother Adoptive father or former adoptive father Adopted daughter or former adopted daughter Adopted son or former adopted son
(a) Parties related within the degrees listed at 2a must be 21 years of age or over at the time of the marriage and the younger party must not, before his or her 18th birthday, have lived in the same household as the other party and been treated by that person as a child of the family.
(b) Parties related within the degrees listed at 2b must be 21 years of age or over at the time of the marriage and the family members involved in creating the in-law relationship must both be dead. e.g. in the case of man marrying his daughter-in-law, both his son and his sons mother (usually but not always his wife) would require to be dead.
If, after reading it, you are still in doubt you should seek advice from any registrar of births, deaths and marriages in Scotland or from theRegistrar General,
General Register Office,
New Register House,
Edinburgh EH1 3YT.
Telephone: +44 (0)131) 334 0380
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