Emma's answers to Coming to the UK to get married
We live in Hong Kong and would like to have a church wedding in the UK. We are not UK residents and cannot stay in the UK for 14 days before the wedding ceremony. We have relatives and friends in the UK. Can you help?
If you are a visitor to England or Wales and have specifically come for the purpose of marriage, you will need to obtain a common licence to marry in a Church of England Church.
Getting married by common licence is intended for persons who are temporarily resident in a particular parish. Once your application has been approved by the bishop of the diocese in which you wish to marry (or by one of his surrogates), only one clear day's notice is required before your ceremony can take place. The only residency requirement is that at least one of you must have lived in the parish during the 15 days leading up to your application for the licence. To be married by common licence, at least one of you must have been baptised. A common licence lasts for three months from its date of issue.
There must be a good reason for requesting a common licence. A common licence is usually applied for by British couples who are no longer resident in England or Wales or if one or both of the couple are not British subjects.
Overseas couples visiting England who are not able to satisfy the 15-day residence requirement must apply for the Archbishop of Canterbury's Special Licence, and this will be refused if neither of the couple is able to demonstrate a genuine and long-standing connection with the church in question. This type of licence is issued on the authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury and, although there is no minimum residence requirement, it is usually only granted in exceptional (special or emergency) circumstances. No application will be considered unless the minister at the church in question is prepared both to take the marriage service and to support the licence application. Once granted, the licence is valid for three months. Application should be made to (and further details obtained from) the Registrar of the Faculty Office, 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3JT (Tel: 020 7222 5381).
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