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Get married or form a civil partnership urgently

If you want to get married or form a civil partnership urgently because you or your partner are seriously ill, and not expected to recover, we can help you do this, under what is known as a Registrar General's Licence. Or, for other reasons where you can still get to a licenced place for your ceremony, you can apply to reduce the usual waiting period after giving notice.

When a Registrar General's Licence applies

A Registrar General's Licence only applies if you or your partner are too ill to be moved to a place registered for marriages or civil partnerships. The ceremony is conducted where the person who is ill is staying, which could be at a hospital, a hospice or at home.  

Open the following sections to find out what you need to do.

Give notice

WarningYou must both be legally free to marry or form a civil partnership.

The partner who is not ill must contact the register office in the district where the marriage or civil partnership is going to take place (not in the district where you live, although these could be the same), and inform them that you intend to marry or form a civil partnership. This is known as giving notice.

Evidence you need to provide

The doctor providing the overall care of the partner who is ill (attending doctor) must complete and sign the registrar general’s prescribed letter - this is the medical evidence we need which you must provide when you give notice. This will be sent to the registrar general with your notice for approval to grant the licence.

Only the person who is not ill will give notice.  

Getting the licence

We will contact the General Register Office to apply for the licence on your behalf. We can do this immediately after you have given notice, so your marriage or civil partnership can take place very quickly afterwards at any hour of the day. 

Fees

The Registrar General's Licence fee is £15, plus the cost of any certificates issued which are £11 each.

Who attends

You will need witnesses when you get married or form your civil partnership. Anyone else will need to be negotiated with the place where the person who is ill is staying.

Apply to reduce the usual waiting period after giving notice

When the waiver applies

Usually, once you give notice of your marriage or civil partnership, a period of 28 days must pass before the ceremony can take place. However, under exceptional circumstances, this can be reduced, as long as you can move to a licenced place for your ceremony. For example, if there is a:

  • Serious illness of either partner (but that person is able to attend at a registered place for marriage or civil partnership)
  • Serious illness of a close family member
  • Sudden redeployment overseas

These are just some examples, so if there are any other reasons for wanting to reduce the 28-day waiting period, get in contact with us and we can help you. 

Open the following sections to find out what you need to do.

Give notice

You must contact the register office in the district where you live to inform them that you intend to marry or form a civil partnership - you can have your ceremony anywhere. Sometimes a waiver can turn into a Registrar General's Licence if you or your partner becomes more ill.

Evidence you need to provide

You both need to give notice to marry or form your civil partnership, and provide the documentation required for giving notice (this is listed on GOV.UK). 

You must also provide evidence of the reason for wanting to waive the 28-day waiting period. This may be medical evidence or evidence from a third party confirming your exceptional circumstances.

Getting the waiver

It will take a minimum of 24 hours for the waiver to be granted by the registrar general, but there is no guarantee that it will be granted. It will depend on the evidence and is entirely the decision of the registrar general.

Fees

The waiver costs £60 each which is non-refundable and payable to the registrar general (who can still refuse the waiver) plus £35 each for giving notice, and £11 for each certificate. You will also have to pay for ceremony fees, which depend on your choice of venue.

Who attends

You will need witnesses when you get married or form your civil partnership.

Contact us

If you need to discuss the possibility of a Registrar General's Licence, or a waiver for the usual 28-day waiting period, call us on 01225 47 72 34 (our phone lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm), or email register_office@bathnes.gov.uk

If your situation is extremely urgent and you need to speak to us outside of the above hours, call us on 01225 47 74 77