New marriage legislation means that the way a marriage is registered in England changed from 4 May 2021.
The change in the law means that the details of your marriage are recorded on a marriage ‘schedule’ or in some cases ‘document’, signed by you, your witnesses and the officiant.
Details from the completed marriage 'schedule' or 'document' will be entered on the electronic register within 7 days of your schedule or document being received at the register office, in the area where you got married. In the case of religious ceremonies, it may first take up to 21 days for your paperwork to be received at our offices.
A marriage certificate can only be issued after the details have been entered on to the electronic register. This means that you will not be able to obtain a marriage certificate on the day of your marriage. This applies whether you marry in a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony.
If you have paid for certificates already these will be posted by second class Royal Mail (typically post can take 2-3 weeks to be delivered).
Frequently Asked Questions
I need a copy of my certificate on the day of the ceremony, can I have one?
The certificate cannot be issued until due process has been followed so unfortunately this will not be possible.
If you want something to use to perhaps assist with upgrades on travel or accommodation for a honeymoon, or similar, you will need to ask what else they will accept from yourselves.
In a few scenarios we do understand a suitable document may be required for urgent legal purposes (such as the country you are travelling to has a law preventing couples that are not in a legal marriage / civil partnership from sharing a hotel room). If you feel this applies in your case then please contact us at least 28 days before your ceremony. We can then consider your request further, explain what evidence will be required to support it and the format the document (which is not a certificate) will take.
I can't remember if I have pre-ordered any certificates - how can I check?
If you booked and paid for ceremony on-line you will need to log into your online account to check.
If you did not book and pay on-line please call our colleagues on 0345 045 1363 who can check for you.
Please note that you will not have pre-paid for any certficates for a religious ceremony that we are not / did not attend.
I have had my ceremony, where are the certificates I had pre-paid for?
Once your ceremony has taken place it will be added to the computer system within 7 days, and then any pre-paid certficates will be posted within a further 14 days via second class Royal Mail (currently post is then taking 2-3 weeks to then be delivered).
Please therefore allow at least 28 days after your ceremony for receipt.
How do I order certificates after my civil / religious ceremony has taken place?
Once your ceremony has taken place it will be added to the computer system within 7 days, provided there are no issues with your completed schedule (and in the case of any religious ceremony that the schedule has been received back from the minister of religion).
Please go to:
;to order your certificates.
Please note the various postal options and timescales before ordering.
I have received my certificate but it says 'Certified Copy' on it. Where is the original?
The legal record of a marriage or civil partnership is the computer entry made after the ceremony. This means that every certificate we issue is a certified copy - there is no 'original' for you to receive, nor any "digital" copy.
There is an error on my certificate, how do I correct it?
On the day of the ceremony it is your responsiblity to check that the information on the schdules is all correct before signing it. The person conducting the ceremony must also then note how each person has signed, in pencil, fo us to copy as we enter details onto the system in due course.
We will of course first check that it is not a simple copying error made by ourselves when adding the completed schdule to the system. To report a problem go to:
; and use the form to state the date and location of your ceremony, your names, what the error is and what the correct details are.
We will then check for any error on our part. If it is our mistake, and within legal permissions, we will arrange for you to return the certificate and issue a replacement.
If not then there are legal processes, timescales and statutory fees which apply for all corrections depending on the type of error. Details will provided when we reply to your initial query.
Why doesn't my certificate show the surname I have decided to use after my marriage / civil partnership, and can it be added?
In England and Wales (unlike some other countries) the law means that a certificate will only show the name in which you contracted your marriage / civil partnership, and not the surname you now wish to use.
It is not possible to add this to a certificate.
Most places you contact to inform them of your name change will simply expect to see it as a reflection of the names on your certificate (for example if you decide to double barrel the seperate surnames previously held by both of you).