Marriage in Scotland

Last updated: 6 January 2021

Getting married during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Where you can get married

You can get married inside or outside at a public venue such as a hotel, register office or a place of worship.

You can also get married outside in a private place such as a garden outside your home.

Number of people who can be there

The number of people depends on the protection level where you're getting married.

Protection level 4

Up to 5 people (6 people if you need an interpreter).

The rules for protection level 4 are:

  • numbers include the couple, 2 witnesses, the person doing the ceremony and an interpreter if you need one
  • these can be from any number of households
  • you cannot have other guests there
  • there's no exceptions to the rules for children
  • there's no exceptions to the rules for photographers
  • everyone should follow physical distancing rules

Protection levels 1, 2 and 3

Up to 20 people.

Protection level 0

Up to 50 people.

The rules for protection levels 0 to 3 are:

  • numbers include the couple, witnesses, guests and anyone employed by the couple, such as a photographer
  • numbers include any children
  • it does not include the person doing the ceremony or staff at a venue
  • everyone should follow physical distancing rules
  • there's no limit on how many households can attend

Check the protection level of an area.

Marriage inside a private place

You cannot get married inside a private place such as your home or hired holiday accommodation.

This is unless the marriage ceremony cannot happen in a public place. This could be because:

  • one of the couple is seriously ill
  • a disability stops one of them from attending a ceremony somewhere else

In this situation, the number of people there should be the minimum. This means:

  • the couple getting married
  • the person doing the ceremony
  • the 2 witnesses
  • any interpreter who is needed

These limits only apply to the marriage ceremony.

Marriage reception

Different rules apply to gatherings before or after the ceremony. For example, a reception.

The number of people who can go depends on the protection level where you're having the reception.

Protection level 4

You cannot have a reception.

Protection levels 1,2 and 3

Up to 20 people.

Protection level 0

Up to 50 people.

The rules for protection levels 0 to 3 that allow a reception are:

  • the reception must take place in a regulated venue such as a hotel or restaurant
  • if the reception takes place somewhere else such as someone's home or garden the limits on household meetings apply

Check the protection level of an area.

You should also check travel restrictions that may affect your plans.

You can get further guidance on marriages during coronavirus on gov.scot.

Future changes to marriages in Scotland

You can read more about future changes to marriages and civil partnerships during coronavirus on gov.scot.

Who can get married in Scotland

You can get married in Scotland if you're:

  • aged 16 or over
  • in an opposite sex or same sex relationship
  • not married or in a civil partnership with someone else
  • not closely related (see below for a list of relations you cannot marry)
  • capable of understanding what marriage means and of consenting to marriage

You cannot legally marry or have a civil partnership with any of the following relatives:

  • parent
  • child
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • sibling
  • aunt or uncle
  • niece or nephew
  • great-grandparent
  • great-grandchild
  • adopted parent or former adoptive parent
  • adopted child or former adopted child

Relatives you can marry

The relatives you can marry are:

  • child of former wife or husband
  • child of former civil partner
  • former spouse or civil partner of parent
  • former spouse or civil partner of grandparent
  • grandchild of former spouse or former civil partner

To do this you must:

  • be aged 21 or over
  • not have lived in the same house as the person when you were aged 18 or younger
  • not have been treated as a child of their family

Different types of marriage ceremony

There are 2 different types of marriage ceremony you can have in Scotland:

  • civil ceremony – can take place in a registration office or anywhere agreed with the registrar, except religious premises
  • religious or belief ceremony – can take place anywhere by someone approved to conduct a ceremony

Check with the religious or belief body that they will marry you.

There are different options if you want to change a civil partnership to a marriage.

How to get married

You both need to complete and return a Marriage Notice form (tells the local registrar you want to marry).

You'll be charged a fee to register your marriage – check with your registrar office how much this will be.

You need to return your forms and any other documents needed to the registrar at least 29 days before your wedding.

  • your birth certificate
  • evidence of where you live, for example a bank statement with your address
  • your divorce certificate if you or your partner were previously married
  • your dissolution certificate if you or your partner were previously in a civil partnership
  • a death certificate if a previous spouse (husband or wife) or civil partner has died
  • your passport or another document that provides evidence of your nationality
  • your certificate that you are free to marry under the law of your own country if you don't live in the UK

Get in touch with your registrar as early as possible if you cannot get any of these documents.You may be able to use other documents.

Religious or belief ceremonies

If you're having a religious or belief ceremony you'll also need to collect the 'marriage schedule'.

A marriage schedule is a form you sign during your wedding ceremony.

You can collect this from 7 days before your wedding. You or the person you're marrying will need to collect it in person.

The marriage schedule needs to be returned to your local registrar after your wedding. You can send it by post. You must do this within 3 days of your ceremony.

If you're having a civil ceremony the registrar will bring your marriage schedule to your wedding and return it to the registrar's office for you.

Declaration of immigration status

You'll also need to complete and return a declaration of immigration status form if you're not from:

Forms

If you have any problems with the online forms, you can get them from a registration office. You can find a list of all the registrars in Scotland on the National Records of Scotland website.

Getting married in Scotland if you live outside of the UK

If you live outside of the UK you need to get a certificate from your country to say there's no reason why you cannot be married. This needs to be given along with your marriage notice to the registrar at least 29 days before the wedding.

If the certificate is not in English you'll need to get a certified translation of the document.

If you cannot provide this evidence, you may not be able to marry in Scotland.

You do not need to get a certificate if you're a UK citizen living abroad.

Further information

There's more information about getting married in Scotland on the National Records of Scotland website.

If you're not sure what you need to do, you can contact:

National Records of Scotland
Marriage/Civil Partnership Section
Room 38
New Register House
3 West Register Street
Edinburgh
EH1 3YT

Email: marriage@nrscotland.gov.uk

Phone: 0131 314 4447

Find out about call charges on the GOV.UK website.