The Highlands is a land of superlatives. It has the highest mountains in Britain; the deepest and longest inland waters; it embraces both the most northerly and most westerly parts of mainland Britain; and it has the lowest density of population, but not (contrary to some belief) the highest rainfall.
The Highlands of Scotland is a remarkable destination with an excellent selection of venues, services and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets. It is an area renowned world-wide for magnificent scenery steeped in fascinating history and famous legends.
Anyone wishing to marry in the Highlands should ensure that they read all the information below, regarding the legal requirements to marriage in Scotland.
If you are a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland such as, for example, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States etc., and you intend to visit Scotland to get married or to register a civil partnership, then you will need an entry clearance. The application form is available on the UK Border Agency website (see 'External Links' opposite).
Other arrangements apply if you intend to come to the UK to get married, or have a civil partnership, and settle here - you should check the UK Visa website for more information about that.
If you have any questions, contact the UK Border Agency Immigration Enquiry Bureau (Tel no: 0870 606 7766).
Registrars have a statutory duty to report any marriage they suspect has been registered for the sole purpose of evading statutory immigration controls.
Religious Marriage Ceremony
A Religious Marriage Ceremony (which includes other belief systems) may take place anywhere and may be solemnised only by a minister, clergyman, priest, pastor or any other person entitled to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977.
In addition to consulting with the celebrant, couples must also contact the registrar.
Civil Marriage Ceremony
A Civil Marriage is a non-religious ceremony conducted by a Registrar. Music, personal vows, readings etc may be included and the Registrar will be very happy to discuss this with you.
Ceremonies may be conducted in:
- Registration Offices in a wide variety of locations throughout the Highlands. Several offices have ceremony suites set aside for this purpose. (See 'In This Section' opposite.)
- Other Venues approved for this purpose by means of The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002. Further information and a list of approved venues in the Highlands can be found in the 'Related Information' section opposite.
Preliminaries to Marriage in Scotland
The bride and groom are each required to complete a marriage notice (Form M10) and submit these notices to the registrar.The forms may be collected, or sent to you from any Registration Office in Scotland. Alternatively the Marriage Notice forms can be viewed and printed off together with the accompanying notes at the General Register Office for Scotland’s website.(See 'External Links opposite.) For information regarding fees and additional information required by the registrar see 'Current Documents' opposite.
The minimum period for lodging marriage notice forms is 15 days before the date of your marriage. The maximum period is three months. However, it is recommended that the marriage notice forms be returned to the registration office of the district in which you are to be married, about four to six weeks before the date.
With the marriage notice forms, you should enclose:
- The appropriate fees (see 'Current Documents' opposite)
- Your birth certificates
- If you have been married or in a registerd civil partnership before and the marriage or civil partnership has been dissolved or annulled, a decree of divorce or dissolution or annulment or a certified copy decree. A decree of divorce or dissolution granted outwith Scotland must be absolute or final - a decree nisi is not acceptable.
- If your spouse or civil partner is deceased, the death certificate of your former spouse or civil partner.
- If you are domiciled in another country, outside the United Kingdom, a certificate of no impediment issued by the competent authority, to the effect that you are free to marry
- If any of these documents is in a language other than English, a certified translation in English must also be provided
- Additional information including details of the witnesses (see 'Current Documents' opposite)
Do not delay giving notice simply because you are waiting for any of the documents mentioned above to come to hand. The documents may be supplied later but it is critical that they are made available to the registrar before the marriage.
All certificates must be certified (not photocopies) and all documents, apart from Certificates of No Impediment, will be returned to you. In most cases these forms, documents and fees will be handed personally to the registrar but arrangements can be made for postal delivery.
You can find more information in the leaflet Marriage in Scotland (RM1) issued with the marriage notice forms (available from any Registrar’s Offices in Scotland) or on the General Register Office (Scotland) website.(See 'External Links' opposite.) If you require further information or clarification of your arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact the relevant Registrar.
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