Getting Married or Civilly Partnered in Scotland
Getting Married or Civilly Partnered in Scotland
West of Scotland local COVID-19 restrictions – Marriage and Civil Partnership
As of midnight on September 7, 2020, restrictions have now been placed on five local authority areas in the west of Scotland: Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire (the first three councils have been under new restrictions since September 1). These restrictions will be reviewed after 7 days.
As a result, there will be some changes to how marriages and civil partnerships will work in these council areas:
- No indoor marriages or civil partnerships will be able to take place in private dwellings
- Indoor marriages or civil partnerships can still take place in public spaces, such as a registration office or wedding venue, provided the current cap on attendees of 20 people is maintained (this figure does not include the registrar or celebrant, or any interpreter)
- Outdoor marriages or civil partnerships can still take place, with the attendee cap of 20 people maintained
- Travel to and from venues for the purposes of marriage or civil partnership is not restricted.
As of midnight on September 11, 2020, the restrictions placed on Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire have been extended to those living in North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire. These restrictions will be introduced for an initial two week period and will be reviewed after 7 days.
We will update this page following Scottish Government’s planned review of the west of Scotland COVID-19 measures.
Aberdeen area local restrictions
An earlier local lockdown placed restrictions on the Aberdeen area affecting the conduct of marriages and civil partnerships: no indoor marriages or civil partnerships were permitted; while outdoor weddings and civil partnerships could continue, guests were not permitted to travel from outwith Aberdeen city to attend such ceremonies; and people living in Aberdeen city were not permitted to travel outside the city for purposes of attending a marriage or civil partnership.
As of August 24, 2020, Scottish Government relaxed restrictions on both gatherings and on non-essential travel over 5 miles.
Within Aberdeen city and Aberdeenshire, therefore:
- Indoor marriages are now permitted
- Travel from Aberdeen city outwith the city for purposes of attending a marriage or civil partnership is permitted
- Travel into Aberdeen city for the same purposes is permitted.
Existing restrictions on marriage and civil partnership ceremonies (such as the cap of 20 attendees, not including the registrar or any necessary interpreter) remain in place.
Guidance issued by the Registrar General for Scotland on Phase 3 of the Routemap through and out of the COVID-19
1. In Scotland, all paperwork for marriages and civil partnerships is dealt with by local authority registrars. This is the case whether you intend to have:
- a civil ceremony (for marriage)
- civil registration (for civil partnership)
- a religious or belief ceremony or registration.
National Records of Scotland (NRS) has published a contact list of local authority registrars (528 KB PDF).
2. This guidance concerns the implications of changes at Phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Routemap in relation to marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations.
3. The Scottish Government has published guidance for couples considering marriage/civil partnership, and for religious and belief celebrants, which can be found on the Scottish Government's website. The Scottish Government’s website has up to date information and support on coronavirus (COVID-19) more widely.
4. There is published guidance for anyone who has developed coronavirus symptoms, however mild, about getting tested and the need for self-isolation. All of us must continue to minimise the opportunity for Coronavirus (COVID-19) to spread from one person to another.
Submitting notice of intention to marry or enter a civil partnership
5. The first step is to submit a notice of intention to marry or enter a civil partnership to your local registration office. Notices can be submitted in person or by post. As in Phase 2 high-priority activities in registration offices will continue, we would encourage people to submit notices by post, to reduce the amount of face to face contact time spent in the registration office.
The nature of marriage ceremonies and civil partnership registrations that are available during Phase 3
7. The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Restrictions) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/103, as amended), which are being kept under close review, are in place to tackle Covid-19. The Regulations, amongst other things, implement physical distancing and impose restrictions on public gatherings, events and the operation of business activity.
8. In phase 3 of the Scottish Government’s Routemap through and out of the crisis, special guidance relating to marriage and civil partnership ceremonies (note – NOT receptions; such gatherings remain subject to the above regulations) have been introduced.
9. In particular, from July 15 this means:
- The maximum number of people allowed to attend a marriage or civil partnership will be 20, with physical distancing in place and where venues are able to allow that number to attend safely.
- This figure sets marriage and civil partnership on a different footing from wider gatherings (where household and number restrictions remain); the maximum attendance of 20 people does not include any limitation on numbers of households, and does not include the registrar, celebrant or any interpreter.
- The maximum figure encompasses all those at the ceremony, including children, carers supporting any attendee, photographers, musicians or any other person employed by the couple, and so on.
- This figure also applies to both outdoor and indoor ceremonies (where venue capacity allows the ceremony to take place safely)
- Physical distancing should still be observed. This means that people should stay at least 2 metres apart (unless they are members of the same household).
10. If you are planning a civil ceremony conducted by a registrar, you should be aware that during Phase 3, not all local authorities will be able to accommodate a ceremony or registration taking place outdoors, or indoors with the maximum number of attendees spelled out above; please contact the registration office to discuss what arrangements the local authority will be able to make.
11. If the registrar or the religious or belief celebrant consider that the arrangements at a venue are unsafe – whether because of Covid-19 risks or any other risks – they may refuse to carry out the marriage or civil partnership or may stop the service if circumstances change (for instance, if more attendees than the maximum number arrive during the ceremony).
12. The Scottish Government and NRS intend that it should be possible for more marriages and civil partnerships to take place as we go through the Routemap out of the crisis.
Dealing with your marriage or civil partnership notice
13. In line with usual practice, the registrar will process your marriage or civil partnership notice. This includes checking that you are free to marry or enter into a civil partnership. Separately, where you are seeking a civil marriage or civil partnership conducted by the registrar, they will consider carefully whether they are able in the circumstances to provide the service at the venue you propose.
14. The minimum notice period is 28 clear days. In practice, most couples submit notices well in advance of this, to give sufficient time for all of the arrangements to be in place.
15. As a consequence of Covid-19, registration offices have been closed to the general public since late March. Over this period, registrars have also been focused primarily on carrying out the remote registration of significant additional numbers of deaths. As birth registrations were also postponed to allow registrars to concentrate on death registration, many registration offices have a back-log of birth registrations to carry out. Registration offices, which vary significantly in lay-out across Scotland, are also being reconfigured to introduce physical distancing.
16. All of this means that it may take longer than normal for your marriage or civil partnership notice to be processed.
Marriages and civil partnerships where there is a pressing need
17. The Scottish Government and NRS recognise that, in limited circumstances, there will continue to be a pressing need for couples to enter into a marriage or civil partnership. Examples of pressing need include where one of the parties:
- is seriously ill
- is imminently to be posted overseas in the armed forces
- is resident in Scotland, and has a marriage or civil partnership visa issued by the UK Government which is about to expire.
18. Please contact your local registration office (528 KB PDF) or the National Records of Scotland at firstname.lastname@example.org if you believe there is a pressing need for your wedding or civil partnership to proceed to a shorter timescale than the normal notice period. You will be asked to provide details of your circumstances. The Registrar General for Scotland will consider your request carefully and let you know whether your marriage or civil partnership schedule can be completed without the 28 clear days’ notice period having taken place.
Where marriage or civil partnership notices have already been submitted
19. As explained above, registrars have been unable to process all of the marriage and civil partnership notices submitted before mid-March or in the period since then. However, where you have already submitted your marriage or civil partnership notice, registrars are now processing these. More information on the issue of marriage and civil partnership schedules is outlined below. A marriage or civil partnership cannot take place without a schedule.
20. If you have decided, as a consequence of the restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19, that you do not wish to proceed with your marriage or civil partnership at the moment, please advise your local registration office (528 KB PDF) in writing (contact e-mails are available on the list linked to above). Your marriage or civil partnership notice will be cancelled and the marriage or civil partnership notice fee refunded. Please note the refund may take slightly longer than usual to arrange, given other ongoing pressures on registration.
21. If your notice has been lodged for more than three months and you have decided to postpone the date of the ceremony to a new date your local registrar will, following any required consultation with the Registrar General, advise you whether you will need to submit new notices.
Visiting the registration office
22. You may still need to visit a registration office to:
- Hand in notices of intention to marry or enter a civil partnership. As indicated above, however, we would recommend that you submit notices by post at the moment, if at all possible, to minimise physical
- Hand in supporting documents not previously submitted with a notice form (such as a passport or other identity document)
- Deal with any inquiries arising out of your notices which cannot be dealt with by phone or in writing
- Collect the marriage or civil partnership schedule, if you are having a religious or belief marriage or civil partnership. (If your marriage is to be solemnised, or your civil partnership registered, by a civil registrar, the registrar will keep the schedule.)
23. In line with good practice within newly-opened registration offices, visits to the office will be kept as brief as possible, with physical distancing measures put in place by the local authority. Scottish Government guidance on face covering recommends the use of a face covering in an enclosed environment. This includes registration offices. Be prepared to show identification and be aware that you may be asked to remove your face covering.
24. Not all registration offices may be open. Please check your local authority website to see which offices the council is operating during Phase 3, and their hours of operation.
Issuing the marriage or civil partnership schedule
25. Once the registrar has processed the marriage or civil partnership notice, the registrar will prepare a marriage or civil partnership schedule.
26. If your marriage is to be solemnised, or your civil partnership registered, by a civil registrar, the registrar will keep the schedule to complete on the day.
27. If you are having a religious or belief marriage or civil partnership, one of the parties will need to visit the registration office to collect the schedule to be completed on the day. After the marriage or civil partnership has taken place, please return the completed schedule to the registration office by post, again in order to minimise physical contact.
NATIONAL RECORDS OF SCOTLAND
JULY 15, 2020