I am planning to go to the UK with a standard visitor visa.

I will meet my girlfriend there. If we all of a sudden decide to marry, can we?

My girlfriend is Lithuanian who just works and lives there; she doesn't have a residence permit. I am a Palestinian who lives in Lebanon

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    The rules say that you cannot enter UK as a general visitor with the intention of getting married. But if someone decides to have a quick marriage after entering UK, there's nothing to stop them. In your case it appears different because the marriage is not with immigration intent. I defer to people here who are experts on British Immigration Law. Mar 12, 2017 at 14:12
  • @SheikPaul actually there is, as in order to get married he will have to, among other things, bring a proof of address. And there is more to it so I will probably put it as an answer.
    – Aida Paul
    Mar 12, 2017 at 14:14
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    @SheikPaul you have it wrong. Getting married on a standard-visitor-visa is a no-no, exactly as working, even remote work. roun512, both 1) and 2) are bad ideas on a standard-visitor visa and can get you into a lot of serious trouble, including not being able to get any visa in the near future.
    – mts
    Mar 12, 2017 at 14:22
  • I've removed the work question, as it made the question too broad.
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 12, 2017 at 14:35
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    I've created a separate question for the work inquiry here: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/89704/…
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 12, 2017 at 14:44

2 Answers 2


First and foremost, in the UK you cannot marry out of the sudden. The procedure is to first give notice at a registrar office of your choosing, then wait for at least four full weeks (28 days), and if there are no objections to the marriage, then you can marry. Now a marriage between two non-nationals is slightly more work than that.

To give notice as a non-resident outside of EEA or Switzerland, you will need to come to UK on what is called Marriage Visitor visa. It has a similar effect as a standard visitor visa, but gives you the right to give notice and get married in the UK, but also comes with more scrutiny by the Immigration control. You will not only have to prove to be in a genuine relationship but also make an iron-clad case that you will not decide to stay permanently in the UK after getting married.

So that gives a direct answer to your question, as on visitors visa you will not be able to even give notice at registrars office as they will ask about your immigration status. Besides the marriage visa, there are also many other requirements you will have to fulfil before you can marry in the UK, have a look at gov.uk website dedicated to them. If you want to learn more about them, please open subsequent questions about specific parts that are unclear..

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    It is not in fact necessary to notify a register office to get married: if you marry in a (C of E) church simply signing the register fulfils the legal requirements. You do have to have the banns called on 3 previous Sundays and to meet the diocese's requirements (which vary) if either of you is non-resident, so I doubt whether this is a practical solution; but registrars are not the only people who can solemnize marriages. Mar 12, 2017 at 14:46
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    @TimLymington great idea for a separate answer, as religious marriages is not something I know much about, and it may be a route worth considering.
    – Aida Paul
    Mar 12, 2017 at 14:52
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    It should also be noted that having a wedding is legal on any visa, as long as it doesn't involve a commencement of a legal marriage. People can sign their papers abroad and then do the ceremony in Britain.
    – JonathanReez
    Mar 12, 2017 at 16:59
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    Banns probably won't work, as they need to be read in the parish where each of you lives, which although she can do, you cannot. The Church of England adds if one or both of you does not live in England or Wales, it is recommended that the Licence procedure be used rather than banns.
    – MadHatter
    Mar 12, 2017 at 17:11
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    @moo A bit late, but all church marriage seems to require notification if one party is from outside the EEA/Switzerland - you can't entirely sidestep that requirement. gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships/religious-ceremonies Aug 23, 2017 at 12:18

You cannot marry in the UK on a standard visitor visa. This is a limitation of the visa, not of UK marriage procedures.

The only exception is if you already have a civil partnership - and you can't form a new civil partnership on an SVV either.

In terms of actually getting married, there are five different sets of rules in England and Wales that determine how you get married, and Scotland and Northern Ireland are different again.

The five rules are:

  • Registrar: These are the only rules for a non-religious ("civil") marriage; they require the marriage to have four week's notice, which is made public. Weddings have to be either at the registry office (which will be very basic) or at a licensed venue (which you would, obviously, have to pay for). Venue licensing is very complicated and you need to check that the venue is already licensed, because (unless you're very rich) it will be much too expensive to license a venue just for your wedding. One important rule is that only indoor venues can be licensed; outdoor weddings cannot be conducted under a registrar. Same-sex weddings are allowed with registrars.

  • Jewish marriages: The Board of Deputies of British Jews approves Jewish marriages, and they license rabbis to perform marriages. If you are both Jewish, then Jewish marriages are very flexible, without notice requirements or need for the venue to be licensed - Jewish weddings are just about the only outdoor weddings in England. It's up to the rabbi whether to allow same-sex weddings or not.

  • Quaker marriages: The Society of Friends approves Quaker marriages, and is not subject to external regulation. However, they are unlikely to approve a marriage that isn't held as part of a regular Meeting for Worship in a Friends' Meeting House, so you pretty much have to be a member of a regular Meeting to have one. While Quakers are allowed to conduct outdoor weddings, they don't. Quakers allow same-sex weddings.

  • Other religions (other than Jews, Quakers and Church of England): A place of worship must be licensed to conduct weddings. You have to give notice at the register office 28 days before the wedding, just as for a wedding with the registrar, but the religious celebrant will conduct and register the wedding. The licence for the place of worship will determine whether same-sex weddings are permitted (they mostly aren't).

  • Church of England: Notice is done either through Banns or a Licence. Banns have to be read at the Sunday service each of the three Sundays before the wedding - but they must be read at the church where the wedding will be and at the home churches of both participants. Otherwise you need a Licence - a Common Licence if you live outside England and Wales but are EEA (inc British, EU) or Swiss citizens. Alternatively, you can give notice at a registry office in the usual way for a civil wedding, which grants you a Superintendent Registrar's Certificiate - this is the only way to marry in the Church of England if either or both people are nationals of countries outside the EEA (or Switzerland). Church of England weddings cannot be same-sex.

The registrar will always check your immigration status before allowing you to give notice. The only ways around this are Banns (but you're not resident in the UK, so that won't work), to get a Special Licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury for a Church of England wedding (very unlikely, let's be honest), or to be Jewish or Quaker. While the marriage in those cases would be legal, it would also be a breach of your visa and you'd be likely to get deported.

In both Scotland and Northern Ireland, all weddings go through providing notice to a registrar 28 days in advance, which means that the registrar checks immigration status at that point. The actual conduct of weddings in those countries is much more flexible than in England and Wales (notably: you can marry outdoors in Scotland), but the law is much more standardised.

If you want to marry, you need either a Marriage Visitor Visa (if you intend to live outside the UK after the marriage) or a Family Visa (if you intend to live in the UK after the marriage). I expect you will find it difficult to get a Marriage Visitor Visa if your intended spouse is permanently resident in the UK as the immigration officer is very unlikely to believe that you don't intend to live with your spouse after marriage.

  • Does the "Other religions" case not fall under "Registrar"? I understand that the religious celebrant in that situation must also be a qualified sub-registrar (or you hire a qualified sub-registrar and they do the legal part in the middle of the religious part). Feb 6, 2018 at 12:18
  • @peter Taylor No, because the premises licensing is different for religious marriages against registrar marriages outside the registry office. Also different rules about same-sex marriages Feb 6, 2018 at 18:23

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