As life slowly returns to "normal" in the UK, I was excited to book tickets to go to the opera where I am transported to a romantic world and where I leave logic in the cloakroom.  Often, the lack of rationality makes a great opera.  If Puccini's heroine, Floria Tosca, had been slightly more rational when Scarpia tried to deceive her, then the hauntingly beautiful aria, "Vissi d'arte, vissi d'amore" (I lived for art, I lived for love), would not exist. 

However, if you are planning to get married in the UK and either you or your partner are from outside the UK, then the additional visa requirements might make the wedding planning a little less romantic. 

Visa options

You or your partner will need a visa to get married in the UK if you or your partner do not hold one of the following statuses: 

  • British (or Irish) citizenship;
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain or settled status in the UK; or
  • a visa (other than a Standard Visitor visa) or pre-settled status in the UK.

The type of visa required will depend on the circumstances. 

Marriage Visitor visaFiancé(e) visaUnmarried Partner visa
Duration6 months6 months 2 years and 9 months
Application fee (outside the UK)£95£1,523
Work in the UKNoNoYes 
Settlement NoNo but can switch into a Spouse/Civil Partner visaYes after 5 years in the UK

If you and your partner are already married or in a civil partnership, then you can apply for a Spouse/Civil Partner visa.  If you are a "joining family member" of an EEA or Swiss national who was living in the UK by 31 December 2020, then you might be eligible to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme. 

Giving notice

Another step to include in the planning stage is the requirement to give notice of intention to marry or form a civil partnership.  This is not an immigration requirement but a general one.  You and your partner must give notice at least 29 days prior to the date of your wedding ceremony and the ceremony must take place within 12 months of giving notice.  Due to a backlog caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, appointments to give notice might be difficult to book. 

If you or your partner need a visa to get married in the UK, then you will have to give notice at the same time at your local register office in the district where one of you lives. 

Other (less romantic) considerations

Under English law, your Will is revoked by marriage or civil partnership unless the Will was made in anticipation of the marriage or civil partnership itself.  You and your partner should also discuss whether it would be appropriate to put in place a pre-nuptial agreement based on your circumstances.  Advice should be sought in any other relevant jurisdictions in relation to succession law and matrimonial property regime. 

We have a particular specialism in advising high net worth individuals on complex issues and interactions between UK immigration, tax and family law.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.