Preliminaries to Marriage: Superintendent Registrar’s Certificates
A Superintendent Registrar of a civil Register Office may issue a Certificate to permit a marriage to take place in an Anglican church. Usually one of the parties must have the required seven days’ residence within the registration district and within the parish where the marriage is to take place before applying for the Certificate, or the church must be the usual place of worship of one or both of the parties. The Registrar enters the details of the parties in a book which is open to public inspection and also displays a notice at the Register Office. For any notice given after 2nd March 2015, the notice period is 28 days. If no impediments are shown within the period allowed, a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate can be issued.
From 2nd March 2015, the marriage of non-European nationals in the Church of England must take place by Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate. (The only exceptions to this are in cases where a Special Marriage Licence is instead required, or where the ‘transitional arrangements’ apply to a particular couple who have previously applied for a Common Marriage Licence.)
The marriage of non-European nationals in the Church of England by Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate will now be allowed in any situation where previously the publication of banns could have been the legal preliminary for the marriage. Principally this includes cases where the bride and/or groom has a ‘qualifying connection’ under the 2008 Marriage Measure to the parish. (This is not the case for British/European nationals; the Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate procedure will be available to them only in the more limited circumstances explained above. It will remain rare for the marriage of British/European nationals to take place in the Church of England by Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate.)
For couples where one or both of the parties is a non-European national with limited immigration status or not here legally, the civil registrars will be required to refer their marriage notice to the Home Office for potential investigation as to whether the proposed marriage is a sham. To allow time for the investigation, the Home Office may extend the notice period to 70 days. Those with indefinite leave to remain, or a marriage visitor or fiancé(e) visa will be exempt from this referral and investigation process.
Couples applying for a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate should read the government’s website pages which can be found here:
https://www.gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships. These include contact details for local (civil) register offices and designated register offices. Each register office will usually have its own website explaining the procedures in greater detail.