Urgent marriages and civil partnerships
For those that are seriously ill and not likely to recover, a wedding or civil partnership, civil or religious, can take place any time 24 hours a day using a Registrar Generals Licence from the borough where the unwell person is located.
Ceremonies under Registrar Generals Licence can take place at any location including peoples homes, hospitals and hospices.
The fee for obtaining a Registrar Generals Licence is £15 and medical evidence that the person is not likely to recover is required, usually in the form of a letter from the doctor treating the unwell partner. We have attached two sample letters that doctors can use if a letter needs to be written. Please note that the marriage letter can only be used for marriages and the civil partnership letter for civil partnerships.
How to arrange a Registrar Generals Licence
1) Obtain a letter from the doctor treating the unwell partner which outlines the following, see templates at the bottom of this page:
- The doctor is in medical attendance of the person concerned
- The person is seriously ill and not expected to recover
- The person cannot be moved to a place registered for marriages
- He / she understands the nature and purport of the marriage ceremony
2) One of the parties wishing to get married / form a civil partnership must give notice. Please contact 020 8489 2605 / 2601 to arrange this during office hours. We are open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm and Saturdays until around 3pm. The office closes from 1pm on the first Thursday of each month. If you need help on the first Thursday please call Switchboard on 020 8489 0000 so that you can be put through to us. Outside of office hours please contact the Out of Hours Service on 020 8489 0000 who will arrange for the Superintendent Registrar or a Deputy to contact you. The notice can be taken at any location although it is normally taken at the Register Office.
3) After taking the notice, the Superintendent Registrar will forward the medical letter to the General Register Office so that the application for a Registrar Generals Licence can be considered. The £15 fee will also be sent. The fee can be paid by cash or cheque payable to IPS.
4) If a Registrar Generals licence is granted the ceremony can then take place. For a civil ceremony a Registrar and a Superintendent Registrar will attend. For a religious ceremony only a Registrar will attend. You will need to arrange for any religious person to attend.
The General Register Office can be contacted out of hours to the Custodians Office by calling 0151 471 4223.
Marriage by Church of England special licence
If a couple wish to be married in an emergency in a Church of England church, a special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury is required. In this situation please call 020 7222 5381. The address is Faculty Office, 1 The Sanctuary, London, SW1P 3JT. You can also visit the website: The Faculty Office (external link).
Jewish and Muslim deaths outside of normal office hours
Outside of office hours please contact the Out of Hours service on 020 8489 0000 so that a Registrar of Births and deaths can contact you. During normal opening hours (9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday and until 1pm on the first Thursday of each month) please go to the Register Office or call us on 020 8489 2605 / 1775.
Please ask the Consultant responsible for the care of the patient to use the templates below to prepare their letter. The letter should be on headed paper. Please note that there are two templates, one for Marriage (man and woman) and another for Civil Partnerships (same sex couples).
Waiver of 28 / 70 Day Notice Period
Under normal circumstances a couple must give Notice of Marriage and then wait 28 and sometimes 70 days before they can get married or form a civil partnership. If illness of one of the partners or somebody important to the wedding means that the 28 / 70 day period poses a problem, it is possible to apply for a waiver to get the notice period reduced. There is no guarantee that a waiver will be granted and evidence to support the application will be needed. Waiver forms can be obtained at the time Notice of Marriage / Civil Partnership is given and a fee applies.
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We are open Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm. The office is closed from 1pm on the first Thursday of the month, every month for training purposes.