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The UK is one of the many sought-after locations to tie the knot in owing to its beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture, lack of weather extremes, and the many scenic wedding photography locations!
Note: This article should not be taken as legal advice. Please refer to the UK government’s website for the most up-to-date information and application process.
Marriage Visitor Visa UK
What is the Marriage Visitor Visa UK & Why Do I Need One?
- You wish to get married or register a civil partnership in the UK.
- You wish to give notice of a marriage or civil partnership in the UK.
- You’re not planning to stay or settle in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership.
- You meet the other eligibility requirements.
Please note: You do not need a marriage visitor visa if
- You plan on converting your civil partnership into a marriage. A standard visitor visa will suffice.
- You have a settled/pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
- You have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, and have not received a decision yet.
- You are an Irish citizen.
When Should I Apply For My Marriage Visa?
While the UK government’s website states that the earliest you can apply for your MMV is three months before the ceremony date, that’s not strictly true.
You can apply for it much earlier, if you desire, and it can be wise to get this done sooner rather than later. One of the reasons for this is that the process will require sending your passports off to the visa application centre, which may keep hold of them (as well as other documents) while processing your application.
If this is the case, it is wise to make the necessary arrangements, should you have any overseas trips planned during the process. The good news is, it rarely takes any longer than three weeks for the application centre to reach a decision, but this may vary from person to person and may depend on your country of origin.
Marriage Visitor Visa Fee
Like most visas, there is a fee that will need to be paid in order to apply for your marriage visitor visa. As of early 2024, this fee is £115.
In order to have your application approved, you must be able to provide proof of the following:
- You and your partner are aged 18 or above.
- You are free to give notice of marriage, marry, or enter into a civil partnership in the UK within six months of your arrival.
- You are in a genuine relationship.
- You will be visiting the UK for a period of less than six months.
- You will be leaving the UK on the date you have specified.
- You will not be living in the UK for extended periods, including making it your second home.
- You have sufficient funding to support yourselves during your stay in the UK.
- You have sufficient funding to pay for your return/onward journey.
- You have proof of any other ‘permitted activities’ you wish to engage in while in the UK, as outlined by the UK’s immigration rules
Marriage Visitor Visa UK Documents Required
In order to apply for your marriage visitor visa, you will need the following documents:
- Passports. These should be valid, with at least six months on them before they expire, and should contain a blank page for your visa.
- Details of the marriage/civil partnership, including proof of payment for some of its costs.
- Proof of your plans to wed in the UK. For example, a booking fee/deposit for your venue, etc.
If you or your partner have previously been married, this may require additional paperwork:
- Death certificate of previous spouse (if applicable).
- Decree absolute (divorce).
All of these documents will need to be translated into English if they aren’t already.
Anyone who ties the knot in the UK – whether native or non-native – will need to have a marriage licence before they can do so – and you will need to apply for this a minimum of 29 days before your ceremony date.
However, as a non-UK passport holder, it is advisable you apply for this at least 72 days in advance (bear in mind, however, that you cannot apply for the licence outside of a 90-day time frame).
This licence will need to be sent to your registrar before the wedding date, and, depending on which UK country you plan on getting married in, will probably need to be in the original application form.
You will want to do this around two months before your wedding date, and it is important to courier post this (with proof of postage) to ensure they safely arrive at the UK registration office nearest to your wedding location.
As with your marriage visitor visa, there is required documentation needed for applying for a marriage licence, as well as a small fee to pay.
Marriage Licence Process
The documents you will need in order to successfully apply for your marriage licence include:
- A copy of both parties’ birth certificates.
- Proof of address for both parties.
- An M10 form, which will need to be completed by both of you (if the wedding will be in Scotland).
- A witness form, which will need to be signed by two witnesses on the day of your wedding. The registrar or celebrant cannot act as your witness, however most photographers are happy to.
- An immigration form (depending on whether or not you or your partner are subject to immigration control).
- Copies of decree absolutes/death certificates (for those who have previously been married).
The cost of a marriage licence in the UK for non-nationals is £47 per couple.
It is important you adhere to the recommended time frames of applying for both the marriage visitor visa and the marriage licence, because there are certain windows of time in which these must (and must not) be completed, and the next legal step of getting hitched in the UK cannot be completed until both of these are boxed off.
Once you’ve been approved for your marriage licence and your marriage visitor visa, you will then need to hire a registrar, who you will be expected to send your paperwork too. They will then prepare your marriage schedule.
This is a simple A4 piece of paper that you will collect from the registrar’s office once you’re in the UK. Please note: the fee for the marriage schedule ranges from £57 to £80 (per couple), depending on whether you are getting married in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales.
It is important to note that both of you will need to be present when collecting the marriage schedule from the registrar, and you will be expected to present your passports and your marriage visitor visa.
Make sure you hold onto your marriage schedule, as you will need it on your big day to present to the registrar before the ceremony.
UK Marriage Checklist & Top Tips
- The legal stuff – visa requirements and immigration control documents are mandatory & shouldn’t be left to the last minute in case there are any delays in your application process.
- You will need to set a wedding date before you apply for your visa and licence.
- You will need to have secured a venue in order to hire a registrar – make sure you book an officiant in the location of your venue.
- If you wish to stay in the UK permanently after getting married, you will need to apply for a fiancé visa.
- Visit your local embassy to discuss any questions or further legalities regarding getting married in the UK. The local registrar’s office can also be helpful
- Don’t forget to ask your registrar anything concerning the ceremonial side of getting married – they’re there to help!
Friendly Note: This process seems really complicated and overwhelming, especially alongside trying to plan a wedding or elopement. I’ve worked with numerous couples from around the world who have applied and received their marriage visitor visa without any problems. If you’re stressed about the paperwork, just do the legal bits at home and come to the UK on a tourist visa for the non-legal ceremony. If you want everything done for you so you can show up, tie the knot, and enjoy the UK, get in touch to learn more about our elopement and wedding planning packages.
Unfortunately not. One of the specifications of the standard visitor visa is that it may not be used with intent to marry or enter into a civil partnership in the UK. To do this, you must have had a marriage visitor visa approved and present during your ceremony.
To get approved (or denied) for a wedding visa in the UK, you are looking at around a three-week waiting time, provided you have proved your identity and supplied the correct documentation.