Frequently Asked Questions -  29th October 2021


I am giving notice but my decree absolute only shows my married name and I have reverted to my maiden name.  Is this ok?

You will need to bring your marriage / civil partnership certificate to show the link between the surnames; alternatively, if you have a child bring their birth certificate as it will show your maiden name.

I have lost my decree absolute (marriage) or dissolution order (civil partnership). Can I still give notice?

No. At the appointment you must produce an original court stamped (and fully signed) copy of the decree absolute or dissolution order. Copies can be obtained from the county court where your divorce was heard. Terms and conditions apply to any appointments booked.

My partner does not speak English.  Can you provide a translator/interpreter?

If either of you does not understand or speak English, you need to have an interpreter/translator to ensure you understand what you are agreeing, both when giving notice and at your ceremony. This can't be either of you but can be a family member, friend, neighbour, colleague etc. The interpreter must sign as a witness to the ceremony. If you have any other difficulties with speech or language, or don't know anyone, please let us know in advance.

Can you remind me what documents I need to bring to my notice appointment

Please visit this page and answer the questions carefully. At the end it will display a summary of the documents required, based on the answers given.

When do I have to give notice by?

You can not give legal notice any earlier than 12 months before the date of your ceremony, and remember it is ONLY valid for the exact location you state when doing so. Where possible we would always recommend giving notice 6 to 9 months before the date of your ceremony, as it is then one less thing to worry about as you plan the more celebratory aspects of your special day. We strongly recommend giving notice at least 3 months before your ceremony date. This is so that if your notice can not be taken for any reason (common examples include you are ill on the day, late, do not have all the documents required) or immigration status means that the Home Office extend the waiting period) then you have enough time to book another appointment - otherwise you may have to delay your ceremony.

I don't live in Cambridgeshire, can I give notice?

The law in England and Wales requires the person giving notice to have been resident in the Registration District where they are doing so for at least the 9 consecutive days before the pre-booked appointment, which they have to attend in person. If neither of you currently live in England or Wales (irrspective of when you used to or whether parents are still resident here) you will have to create a residency, as outlined above.

Can I give notice for a religious building, even if we don't live in that District or worship there?

For all Anglican buildings you need to talk to the church team for details, as in most cases you will not need to give notice, or us to attend, but will use relevant religious preliminaries. The law for all non-Anglican buildings is very specific so please read this information carefully, as well as discussing with the religious team at the relevant location - who will also inform you if you need to book us to attend on the day.


Do I have to provide witnesses?

It is your responsibility to provide two witnesses. There is no lower age limit for witnesses, but they must be old enough to understand what is taking place and to be able to testify to what has taken place should this be necessary. They must be able to speak and understand English. They must be present throughout the ceremony. The Registration Service are unable to provide, or act, as witnesses.

Do I need to bring ID on the day of my ceremony?

Generally, no. If you change your name by Deed Poll between giving notice and the ceremony, you will need to bring an original copy of that Deed Poll. Witnesses do not need ID.

How do I provide music for my ceremony?

If your ceremony is in a council ceremony room you can either choose for us to play a selection of classical music or ask a guest to use a digital device to play the music via Bluetooth on our sound bar. Approved venues will make their own arrangements with you directly.

What time should I arrive for my ceremony?

If your ceremony is in a council ceremony room, please arrive no less than fifteen minutes before the ceremony start time. If your ceremony is at one of our approved venues, please arrive at least 30 minutes before your ceremony is due to begin. You will both need to meet with the registrars prior to your ceremony. We offer the opportunity to do this as a couple or separately.

Can I bring fresh flowers for my ceremony at a council ceremony room?

If you wish to bring small flower decorations, you can place them in the room at the start of the ceremony. The arrangements will need to be removed at the end of your ceremony. We cannot arrange access to the room in advance. Please remember that there is limited space in the room.

Can you ask our guests not to post anything on social media until we have posted first?

If you have any specific requests about photography or social media during the ceremony, you can ask the registrar on the day to announce them just before it starts. We would also suggest that you make your guests aware of this request in advance by including it on the invitation or order of service. Please note we accept no resonsiblity or liablity if anyone fails to comply.

We have been asked by a film company to have our ceremony filmed.  Is this ok with you?

You need to ask the film company to get in touch with us first as there are legal agreements to be considered which must be checked in advance. If they just turn up on the day, they will not be allowed to film.

How do I sign the marriage schedule or civil partnership schedule?

You will need to sign with your usual signature using the name you have before the ceremony/ formation takes place or ‘the name you entered the ceremony room with.’

Can I have a ceremony outside?

You might be able to have your ceremony outside from 1 March to 31 October, at an Approved Venue, dependent on weather conditions. The Registrar will determine whether or not the ceremony can proceed outdoors (as agreed in our Terms and Conditions). Please click here to find out more.

Can our guests throw confetti?

You can throw confetti outside of the ceremony room. We would ask that you use bio degradable confetti.

Can our dog attend our ceremony?

Unfortunately, this is not possible. We don’t allow any animals to be in the ceremony room apart from formally registered assistance animals - they can be elsewhere on the property if your ceremony is at an Approved Venue (but not in any Council Ceremony room building).

Can we have a ceremony at any religious building we want to?

For all Anglican buildings you need to talk to the church team for details, as in most cases you will not need to give notice, or us to attend, but will use relevant religious preliminaries. The law for all non-Anglican buildings is very specific so please read this information carefully, as well as discussing with the religious team at the relevant location - who will also inform you if you need to book us to attend on the day.


Will the cost of my ceremony increase after I’ve booked and paid?

When you book a ceremony you are accepting our terms and conditions, which do include your liability for any fee increase in due course. Locally set fees Fees are reviewed by the council each April so the price for future years may increase. Relevant fees are presently set until 31st March 2023. Statutory Fees Fees are set by the Treasury. These can be changed at any point during the year, and this can sometimes be at short notice.

How do I apply in advance for a passport using the surname I will use after my marriage / civil partnership?

If you want to change the surname on your passport, this can be done up to 12 months before the ceremony. You need to send a completed PD2 form, available from GOV.UK or from Post Offices, to Cambridgeshire Registration Service, Huntingdon Library, Princes Street, Huntingdon PE29 3PA with a stamped addressed envelope. Registration Officers will contact you to take a Payment of £37, complete the form and return it to you so that you can include it with your passport application. Your passport will be issued three months prior to your ceremony. Details can be found on GOV.UK at:

What is the difference between a civil marriage and a civil partnership?

Fundamentally there is very minimal difference between the two. Both require legal notice, timescales and relevant appointments.

  • A marriage is contracted at the point where specific words are stated. Both parties then become husband / wife or relevant combination thereof.
  • A civil partnership is contracted when the schedule is signed. Both parties then become legal civil partners. Some countries do not currently recognise legal civil partnerships (in some cases, not all, they may recognise same sex but not mixed sex ones). You must seek advice from any foreign country, considering current or future plans, so you can make an informed decision before booking or giving notice.
  • In both cases:
    • at least two adult witnesses must also be present when the schedule is signed
    • they only cease on the death of one party or going through the relevant court process
    • neither party has to change their name if they do not wish to do so
The full legal details, which we recommend you read, are provided here.

Are there any current opportunities to join the Registration Service?

We are currently recruiting for zero hour and part-time contracted Ceremony Officer roles (multiple opportunities). Recruitment is currently open and the closing date is 15th November. Full details and application process can be found on

Can I give notice and / or have a ceremony virtually?

Legislation in England and Wales does not permit legal notice, civil partnerships or marriages to be done in any way other than in person face-to-face.

Can we convert our existing legal civil partnership to a marriage?

There is no current legal option in England or Wales that allows for the conversion of a mixed sex civil partnership into a marriage. If you have a same sex civil partnership then there is a legal option to convert from that to a same sex marriage. Details can be found here.

Covid / Cambridge move

How many people can attend my ceremony?

To help protect yourselves, your family and friends we do recommend you consider asking all those attending (that are old enough) to take a free lateral flow test the morning before your ceremony. This page shows how anyone can order these online, by phone and the local places they can be collected from across England. Council Ceremony Rooms (updated 5th Oct 2021) - From 15th October 2021 and until further notice the maximum number of people who can attend a ceremony or formation in one of our ceremony rooms is 28. This number includes the couple and two witnesses. Babies, children and photographers are included in this number. Venues Ceremonies - Please speak to your venue who will confirm the number of people that can attend your ceremony. Click here for information about the lifting of Covid restrictions

Can I / my partner make an "entrance" if our ceremony is in a Council Ceremony Room?

We are pleased to confirm that from the 1st October 2021 you will be able to make an entrance or be ‘given away’, although due to current restrictions one of the couple will be able to make an entrance with only one other person.

Couples will still need to be interviewed together before the ceremony/formation. Once the interview has taken place the two people who are making the entrance will wait outside the ceremony room until it is time to enter.

When is the Cambridge move taking place and where is it going?

Castle Lodge stands in the grounds of Shire Hall and ceremonies will take place here up to and including 31st March 2022. The service will be relocated to another city location in Spring 2022. There is limited availability for ceremony bookings at the current location for early 2022. The aim is that from May 2022 (earlier if possible) ceremonies will take place at a site being re-purposed on Ascham Road in Cambridge. Major works are currently taking place. It is anticipated numbers will be roughly the same as the Castle Lodge site, and there will be customer parking (spaces tbc).

Ceremony abroad

I am having a legal ceremony abroad and have been told I need a 'Certificate of No Impediment'.  Can I get one from you?

You can only do so if you are British and physically live here in Cambridgeshire (this does not include Peterborough), and if required by the country where you are having a ceremony. Some countries also require it to be issued within X months of your ceremony date. Please note that once notice is given then, after at least 28 clear days, the document will be issued and posted to you. If you still require one, and noting all that, please check the documents required and book a notice accordingly - you will find the link here.

I have had a ceremony abroad. Do I need to register it here; can I get a certificate from you;  can I have a ceremony here too?

If your ceremony is legally recognised in the country where it took place, and does not contravene the relevant laws of this country, it will be recognised here. You can not register it here and we can not provide any certificates. You can not have another legal ceremony here, as it would bring into question the validity of the first ceremony, but we do offer celebratory 'renewal of vows' instead.


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 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.

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 visit CAMDEX to check for your entry. If your record appears please order the copies required. if your record does not appear, and your ceremony has already taken place, search again using the surname "Zebra". This will bring up a "no results" screen which includes a link to a blank application form you can complete and submit instead. Please note the various postal options and timescales before ordering.

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).

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. Please use this 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.