Before you start making plans to get married in Scotland, it's important to know the country's marriage laws and requirements.
In Scotland, marriage applications are handled by the registrar of each district. For visitors, this is where the ceremony will take place and, for residents, where they live. Since laws do change and each couple's circumstances are unique, it's best to contact the local officials directly.
Timing is an important factor for a Scottish wedding. Be sure to get everything set into motion early so these details are ready in time for your wedding day.
Types of Wedding Ceremonies
The first thing you must consider is what type of wedding ceremony you want to have in Scotland. The country distinguishes between religious or belief ceremonies and civil ceremonies.
Your wedding planner or the registrar should be able to help you navigate these options as well as the place, date, and time of the ceremony. All of this information—and the officiant's information—will be needed by the registrar in order for them to fill out the "marriage schedule."
Residency and ID Requirements
You do not have to be a resident of Scotland to be married there. However, depending on the country where you do reside, you may need a marriage visa. Some couples may also need to provide proof that you are legally eligible to be married in their home country.
Both of you will need to submit a marriage notice to the registrar for the district where the wedding will take place or where you live. The forms must be submitted at least 29 days prior to your wedding, and not more than 3 months before it. They recommend submitting the notice 10 to 12 weeks in advance.
Scotland requires that you both have your genuine birth certificates or an adoption certificate, passports or other identity documents. You will also need to provide a certificate from your country of residence stating that there is no impediment to you getting married.
Additionally, you will need to know the birth names of your parents and their names and relationship status when you were born.
Any documents that are not in English need to be translated.
If you are divorced or widowed, you need to show evidence such as an original death certificate or divorce certificate with the original court seal. They will not accept photocopies. If your divorce was granted in a country other than Scotland, you will need to provide the absolute or final decree.
The time you have to wait to get married in Scotland depends on how long it takes you to get the required paperwork completed and submitted.
The statutory fees associated with getting married in Scotland will vary based on how you will get married and where. In general, you can expect to pay around £125, though there may be additional fees. Contact the registrar's office for more information and acceptable forms of payment.
Scotland does not require blood or any other tests to get married.
Proxy marriages are not allowed; you will both have to be present in order to be married.
Scotland allows some relatives to be married, including first cousins. It is illegal, however, to marry certain members of your family, including a sibling, parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, or uncle or aunt.
Additionally, some relationships formed through someone else's marriage ("by affinity") are not allowed. These include a child or grandchild of a former spouse or civil partner and former spouses or partners of a parent, grandparent, or grandchild. Some adoptive relations are also prohibited from being married. There are some exceptions to these circumstances, which primarily involve age and your previous living arrangements.
In 2006, Scotland's Family Law Act abolished "marriage by cohabitation with habit and repute," which is also known as common-law marriage.
Same-sex marriages are legal in Scotland. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill allowing same-sex weddings was passed by the Scottish Parliament in February 2014. Gay couples began having weddings later that year.
For nonresidents, a same-sex marriage can be performed only if it is also valid in the country where you live.
Both of you must be at least 16 years of age. Scotland does not have a requirement for parental consent.
If you are having a religious ceremony, you must have a minister, clergyman, pastor, priest or other person entitled to do so under the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977. If you are having a civil marriage, it may be solemnized only by a registrar or an assistant registrar who has been authorized by the Registrar General.
You need to have two witnesses in Scotland, both over the age of 16.
The National Records of Scotland has a wealth of information available on their website for couples who wish to get married in the country. Many of your questions can be answered there and it's a good idea to discuss any possible wedding plans with the local registrar prior to finalizing any arrangements.
Marriage laws and requirements can change at any time. The information here is meant only as guidance to help you get started with your Scottish wedding. It should not be regarded as legal advice, either.