The Legal Process

Marriage Visitor Visa

The process of organising a marriage in Scotland is very straight forward. If you do not come from the UK or an EEC country, you will need to apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa, which is simple and only carries a small cost.  To apply please visit the UK VISA SITE


The process involves a small amount of paperwork as well as some biometrics which will be organised for you at a location close to your home. Interestingly, while the website states you can only apply for this visa 3 months in advance of the wedding date, you can actually do so much earlier.  We advise applying 5 months in advance, and as you will need to send your passport off, we advise getting a second passport if you need to travel in the interim and being sure you take a passport copy before you send it.  

How long the process takes varies from person to person.  Sometimes it takes a week and sometimes it takes a couple of months.  To be on the safe side, make sure you apply in plenty of time and give all the information requested.   There is an option to apply using the Fast Track service for an increased cost if you’re getting married on short notice, or for extra peace of mind you can work with a wedding planner or immigration expert to guide you through the process.  

The Marriage Licence

You must ensure that you apply for your marriage licence a minimum of 29 days before the wedding date but if you’re not a British Passport holder, then ideally you would do it at least 72 days in advance (you can’t apply more than 90 days in advance).  so the ideal process would be to apply for your visas 4 – 5 months beforehand, then apply for the marriage licence 3 months beforehand once you already have your visas.

As most registrars in Scotland will only accept original application forms, you should aim to courier or post these off around 2 months before the wedding.  To find the right registrar to apply to, please ask your wedding venue.   Your licence application will include:

  1. An M10 form completed by both parties
  2. An immigration form if you are subject to immigration control
  3. A copy of your birth certificate (you must bring the original to collect the schedule)
  4. Proof of address
  5. A Witness form to name your two chosen witnesses
  6. A copy of your divorce decree if you are divorced (you must bring original to collect the schedule)

All forms you need can be downloaded REGISTRARS WEBSITE as well as answers to any questions you might have.  If you are from certain countries, additional paperwork may be required, such as a certificate of no impediment to marriage, but this is usually not required and is never required for US citizens.

Once the registrar has your paperwork, they will guide you through the process, asking questions if they need to in order to prepare your marriage schedule.  The fees for the schedule are £72 per couple.  You will find the Scottish Registrars to be friendly and extremely helpful, so they will happily answer any questions you might have.

What Happens Next?

The marriage schedule is an A4 sheet of paper which you can collect from the registrar any time in the week before the wedding date, however, when thinking over appropriate dates please make an appointment as not all registrars are open every day and they can get busy.

Both of you must collect the marriage schedule from the registrars, and when you go, you will be expected to produce all your original documents including your passports to demonstrate the existence of your Visas.  You will then be given the schedule to take with you to the wedding, which you should give to your celebrant to complete with black ink during the marriage ceremony.

What Happens After The Wedding?

After the wedding, the schedule needs to be returned to the registrars within 72 hours and they will then issue the marriage certificate for you.  you can return it yourselves or anyone else can do this for you.  We do not advise posting it, as if lost it cannot be replaced.

 Note:  if you are having a civil ceremony, performed by the registrar, then the fees will range from £125 upwards and will include both the performance of the ceremony and the marriage licence. Also, if the registrar is performing the ceremony, then they will simply keep the schedule with them before the ceremony and take it back with them afterwards, which makes life a little easier!  

While this process sounds complicated, we have successfully assisted more than two hundred couples with marrying in Scotland, and the legal process is usually very straight forward and simple with very minimal heaps to jump through.

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