Getting Married in Scotland: The Legal Requirements

Scotland is one of the most beautiful places to get married in – so many castles, medieval structures, men in kilts 😉 Here are some legal requirements you’ll need to look into while you’re planning your perfect wedding.

Crossbasket Castle

Registering with the Local Registrar during the coronavirus pandemic

Before booking any venues or other suppliers, check the website of the local council where you’re getting married!

If you’re getting married in Edinburgh, check here; if Glasgow, check here. We got married in South Lanarkshire, which is just outside Glasgow. The local councils in the Highlands, where very many beautiful castles and venues are, will also have their own websites.

The documents and processes will likely be the same. It’s just that there might be different procedures now because of the whole lockdown / coronavirus pandemic situation.

For instance, the Glasgow website notes that while weddings can now take place outdoors and they are accepting Notices of Marriage, they are not accepting new bookings for civil marriages and civil partnerships. In other words, if you are able to make your own ceremony arrangements (e.g. you can arrange for your own minister for an outdoor wedding), then you can get married even if Scotland hasn’t completely eased the lockdown restrictions. Otherwise, you can’t book a civil ceremony with the Glasgow registrar just yet.

So, again, before even booking your venues, make sure you check the local council’s website!

Documents to Submit to the Local Registrar

The most important document is the Notice of Marriage (Form M10). It basically notifies the local registrar that you intend to get married in Scotland.

Both you and your partner will have to fill in two separate forms.

It also details the documents and processes to get married, so it’s best to read through that as well.

You and your partner will also need to submit:

  • Birth certificates. If you are submitting in person (if allowed), they’ll take photocopies. If you are sending this by post, send a copy.
    • They’ll arrange to see the originals prior to your civil marriage ceremony, or prior to the issue of a Marriage Schedule if you’re having a religious ceremony.
  • Passports. If you are submitting in person (and if allowed), they’ll take photocopies. If you are sending this by post, send a copy. Same note as above.
  • Proof of current/usual residence (not older than three months). This can be a bank statement, council tax bill, valid UK driving license, etc.
  • Certificate of no impediment, if either of you live abroad. I submitted a Certificate of No Marriage issued by the Philippine Statistics Office (the office that holds everyone’s records – birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc.). Your local regsitry office would have an equivalent to this.
  • Declaration of Immigration Status Form, if either of you are a non-EEA national. Only the non-EEA national will have to fill in this form.
  • Decree of divorce, dissolution, or annulment, if either of you were previously married or in a registered civil partnership
  • Death certificate of your former spouse, if either of you is a widow or widower.
  • Certified translation in English, if any of the documents are not in English.

To submit these documents, you’ll need to set an appointment with the local council, if allowed. Otherwise, you’ll need to send the photocopies of the documents and the fee (cheque or postal order) to the local council.

Fees

The fees depend on the type of ceremony you intend to have:

A religious and belief system ceremony is £70

If you’re having a civil ceremony, the minimum fee is £125. The other additional fees depend on where you’re having the civil ceremony – whether it’s in the local council’s offices (they have beautiful rooms) or at an agreed place.

Timing

You’ll need to submit your Notice of Marriage and the supporting documents within 29 days to 3 months before the wedding. You can’t submit the documents earlier or later.

In relation to the Fiance Visa Application

The timing is a little tricky in relation to the Fiance Visa because one of the things you need to submit to get a Fiance Visa is some evidence that submitted your Notice of Marriage (Form F10). Since you can only submit your Notice of Marriage three months before the wedding, that would mean being able to complete your Fiance Visa Application at that point too. That would be cutting it really close because there’s a chance you’ll get your Fiance Visa after three months (date of your wedding!).

What I did was to e-mail the local council to ask if I could submit the Notice of Marriage earlier so I could get my Fiance Visa earlier. They said no. But I submitted this e-mail exchange as part of my Fiance Visa Application. Since my Fiance Visa was approved, that e-mail exchange was acceptable proof of organising a wedding in the UK.

the Marriage Schedule

Religious Ceremony

If you’re having a religious ceremony, you’ll need to pick up the Marriage Schedule from the local registrar within the seven days before your wedding. The marriage celebrant, yourself, your partner, and witnesses will sign this document during your wedding.

Make sure you have spare fountain pens for the signing of this document. You’re not allowed to use ballpoint pens. During our wedding, the priest’s fountain pen ran out of ink and he used ballpoint pen for the witnesses’ signatures. The local council employees made comments about it when I returned the Marriage Schedule, but they accepted it anyway.

Note that only you or your partner can pick up the Marriage Schedule.

Even during the lockdown, it seems local councils are allowing you to enter offices for this purposes. Best to check the local council website to see if there are further updates on this.

Within three days after the wedding, you should submit the Marriage Schedule to the local registrar. Anyone can do this for you as you will probably be off on honeymoon.

When I submitted my Marriage Schedule, the local registrar typed up and created my Marriage Certificate on the same occasion. If I wanted just one copy, they would have given me that copy already. But I asked for two originals (so I could use one to register my marriage in the Philippines). I paid £10 for this extra copy. They sent me my Marriage Certificates by post.

Civil Ceremony

If you’re having a civil ceremony, the local registrar will bring the Marriage Schedule to the ceremony directly. They won’t give you the Marriage Schedule beforehand.

That’s it! Check here for more general information. Comment below if you have any questions! 🙂