Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
CitationSI 2003/413

2003 No. 413 (N.I. 3)


The Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

27thFebruary 2003




Title and commencement



Preliminaries to marriage


Notice of intention to marry


Marriage notice book and list of intended marriages


Power to require evidence




Marriage schedule


Marriage outside the United Kingdom where party resides in Northern Ireland

Persons who may solemnise marriages


Persons who may solemnise marriages

Religious marriages


Application by religious bodies for registration of member to solemnise marriages


Registration of officiants


Cancellation of registration




Temporary authorisation to solemnise religious marriage


Solemnisation of religious marriage


Registration of religious marriage


Registrar's power to require delivery of marriage schedule

Civil marriages


Places at which civil marriages may be solemnised


Solemnisation of civil marriage


Registration of civil marriage


Second marriage ceremony

Marriage of person under 18


Relevant consents required


Order dispensing with relevant consent


Recording of consents and orders



Commencement of marriage


Validity of registered marriage


Corrections and cancellations




Detained persons



Registration districts and registration authorities


Registrars and other staff


Registrars' offices


Records and documents to be sent to Registrar General


Annual report




Proof of marriage for purposes of certain statutory provisions











Whereas a draft of this Order in Council has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament:

At the Court at Buckingham Palace, the 27th day of February 2003


The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty in Council

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, in exercise of the powers conferred by paragraph 1(1) of the Schedule to the Northern Ireland Act 2000 (c.1) and of all other powers enabling Her in that behalf, is pleased, by and with the advice of Her Privy Council, to order, and it is hereby ordered, as follows:-


Title and commencement

1. - (1) This Order may be cited as the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003.

(2) Subject to paragraph (3), this Order shall come into operation on such day or days as the Department may by order appoint.

(3) This Article and Article 2 shall come into operation on the expiration of one month from the day on which this Order is made.


2. - (1) The Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 (c. 33) applies to this Order as it applies to an Act of the Assembly.

(2) In this Order -

"civil marriage" means a marriage solemnised by a person appointed under Article 31;

"the Department" means the Department of Finance and Personnel;

"district" means a registration district within the meaning of Article 30(1);

"marriage notice" has the meaning given by Article 3(2);

"marriage notice book" has the meaning given by Article 4(2);

"medical practitioner" means a fully registered person within the meaning of the Medical Act 1983 (c. 54);

"officiant" means a person registered under Article 11 or temporarily authorised under Article 14;

"prescribed", except in relation to a fee, means prescribed by regulations and in relation to a fee means prescribed by order under Article 37;

"registrar", except in Article 8, has the meaning given by Article 3(2);

"regulations" means regulations made by the Department;

"religious body" means an organised group of people meeting regularly for common religious worship;

"religious marriage" means a marriage solemnised by an officiant;

"statutory provision" has the meaning given by section 1(f) of the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 (c. 33);

"young person" means a person who is over the age of 16 but under the age of 18.

(3) Regulations may provide for references in this Order to a person solemnising a marriage to be construed in prescribed cases as such person as may be prescribed.

Preliminaries to marriage

Notice of intention to marry

3. - (1) Each of the parties to a marriage intended to be solemnised in Northern Ireland shall give the registrar a notice of intention to marry.

(2) In this Order -

"marriage notice" means notice of intention to marry;

"registrar" means the registrar for the district in which the marriage is to take place.

(3) A marriage notice shall be -

(a) in the prescribed form; and(b) accompanied by the prescribed fee and such documents and other information as may be prescribed.

(4) In prescribed cases a marriage notice shall be given by each party -

(a) in person;(b) to either the registrar referred to in paragraph (2) or such other registrar as may be prescribed.

Marriage notice book and list of intended marriages

4. - (1) The registrar shall keep a record of -

(a) such particulars as may be prescribed, taken from each marriage notice received by him; and(b) the date on which each marriage notice is received by him.

(2) In this Order "marriage notice book" means the record kept under paragraph (1).

(3) The registrar shall, in accordance with any guidance issued by the Registrar General, place on public display a list containing in relation to each intended marriage in respect of which the registrar has received a marriage notice -

(a) the names of the parties, and(b) the date of the intended marriage.

(4) As soon as practicable after the date of an intended marriage the registrar shall remove from the list the names and the date relating to it.

(5) Any person claiming that he may have reason to make an objection to an intended marriage may inspect any entry relating to the marriage in the marriage notice book without charge.

Power to require evidence

5. - (1) A registrar to whom a marriage notice is given may require the person giving the notice to provide him with specified evidence relating to each of the persons to be married.

(2) Such a requirement may be imposed at any time on or after the giving of the marriage notice but before the registrar issues the marriage schedule under Article 7.

(3) In paragraph (1) "specified evidence", in relation to a person, means such evidence of that person's -

(a) name and surname;(b) age;(c) marital status; and(d) nationality,

as may be specified in guidance issued by the Registrar General.


6. - (1) Any person may at any time before the solemnisation of a marriage in Northern Ireland make an objection in writing to the registrar.

(2) If the registrar is satisfied that the objection relates to no more than a misdescription or inaccuracy in the marriage notice, he shall -

(a) notify the parties to the intended marriage;(b) make such inquiries as he thinks fit; and(c) subject to the approval of the Registrar General, make any necessary correction to any document relating to the marriage.

(3) In any other case the registrar shall -

(a) notify the Registrar General of the objection;(b) pending consideration of the objection by the Registrar General, suspend the issue of the marriage schedule (if it has not been issued);(c) in the case of a religious marriage, if the marriage schedule has already been issued and it is practicable to do so - (i) notify the officiant of the objection, and(ii) advise the officiant not to solemnise the marriage pending consideration of the objection by the Registrar General.

(4) If the Registrar General is satisfied that there is a legal impediment to the marriage, he shall direct the registrar to -

(a) notify the parties; and(b) take all reasonable steps to ensure that the marriage does not take place.

(5) If paragraph (4) does not apply, the Registrar General shall direct the registrar to proceed under Article 7.

(6) For the purposes of this Article and Article 7 there is a legal impediment to a marriage if -

(a) that marriage would be void by virtue of Article 18 of the Family Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 1984 (NI 14) (prohibited degrees of relationship);(b) one of the parties is, or both are, already married;(c) one or both of the parties will be under the age of 16 on the date of solemnisation of the intended marriage;(d) one or both of the parties is or are incapable of understanding the nature of a marriage ceremony or of consenting to marriage; or(e) both parties are of the same sex.

(7) An objection on the ground mentioned in paragraph (6)(d) shall be accompanied by a supporting certificate signed by a medical practitioner.

(8) A person who has submitted an objection may withdraw it at any time, but the Registrar General may have regard to an objection which has been withdrawn.

Marriage schedule

7. - (1) After the registrar receives a marriage notice from both of the parties to an intended marriage, he shall complete a marriage schedule in the prescribed form if he is satisfied that there is no legal impediment to the marriage or the Registrar General has directed him under Article 6(5) to proceed under this Article.

(2) In the case of a religious marriage, the marriage schedule completed in accordance with paragraph (1) shall be issued by the registrar -

(a) at his office;(b) during such period as may be prescribed; and(c) to one or both of the parties to the intended marriage.

(3) Subject to paragraphs (4) to (6), a religious marriage may be solemnised only on the date, by the officiant and at the place specified in the marriage schedule.

(4) Paragraph (3) shall not impose any obligation on an officiant to solemnise a marriage.

(5) In prescribed circumstances a religious marriage may be solemnised by an officiant other than the officiant specified in the marriage schedule.

(6) Regulations may make provision for any case in which for any reason a marriage cannot be solemnised in accordance with the marriage schedule.

Marriage outside the United...

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