In the UK, you technically only need one official wedding certificate from the registry office to prove you are legally married. However, most couples request multiple certified copies (around 4-5) for changing names on official documents like passports, notifying government agencies, insurance, banks, etc. Some venues may also request a copy for their records.
How Many Copies Should I Order?
While you only need one wedding certificate as proof of marriage, it’s recommended to order several certified copies from the registry office for the following reasons:
Changing Names on Official Documents
If one or both partners are changing their last name, copies of the marriage certificate will be required to update passports, driving licenses, insurance, bank accounts, utilities, work IDs, and other official documentation. Government agencies like the Passport Office will need to see an original certified copy with the raised seal, not photocopies. Order at least 2-3 copies for all the name change notifications you’ll have to make.
Insurance and Financial Documents
You’ll need to notify your insurance provider of your name and marital status change and provide a certified copy of your wedding certificate as proof. The same goes for banks, mortgage/loan providers, pension administrators, and any other financial accounts and investments you hold. Order an extra copy or two to update all your financial and insurance accounts.
If you’re joining your spouse’s health insurance or updating your medical records with your new married name, you may need to furnish your doctor’s office and health insurance company with an official copy of your wedding certificate. Have 1-2 copies ready for this purpose.
Social Security, Taxes, and Employment
To update your marital status, change names, and access any spousal benefits with government agencies like Social Security, IRS, and your employer, you’ll need to supply a certified copy of your marriage certificate as supporting documentation in most cases. It’s advisable to order 2-3 copies for all your employment and tax-related name and status changes.
Travel and Immigration
If you’re applying for a spousal visa, updating your marital status and name on your passport, or undergoing any other immigration/travel-related processes, you’ll need to provide an official wedding certificate copy in most instances. Have at least 2 extra copies on hand for any immigration/travel-related purposes.
Venues and Vendors
Some wedding venues and vendors like photographers, videographers, florists, and planners request a copy of your wedding certificate for their records and to finalize any pending payments/contracts. It’s a good idea to order 1-2 extra copies for any wedding-related vendors who ask for one.
Inheritance and Estate Planning
An official copy of your wedding certificate can be useful for inheritance claims and estate planning processes in case of a spouse’s death or if you update your wills after marriage. Order at least 1 duplicate copy that can be stored with other estate planning documents and accessed by executors or estate lawyers if needed.
It’s always good to have an extra official copy or two of your marriage certificate stored safely in case your original gets damaged, lost, or stolen, or if an urgent unforeseen situation arises where you need to provide legal proof of marriage quickly. You can always order more later on if needed.
How to Order Certified Copies in the UK
When you register your marriage at a registry office in the UK, you’ll automatically receive one standard marriage certificate for free as part of the registration service.
To obtain additional certified copies, you have two options:
Order at Time of Registration
When registering your marriage, you can request up to 4 certified copies of your marriage certificate from the registrar. There is a small fee per copy. This is the easiest way to obtain multiple copies promptly after your wedding.
Order After Registration
The General Register Office (GRO) holds records of all marriages in England and Wales. If you need more certified copies after your wedding, you can order them directly through the GRO. The process takes 2-3 weeks and there are fees per copy. Search “GRO marriage certificates” to access the government order form online.
For marriages registered in Scotland, you can order certified extracts from the National Records of Scotland website. Northern Ireland certificates can be requested online through NIDirect.
Cost of Marriage Certificates
Here’s a quick overview of approximate marriage certificate copy costs:
England and Wales
– At registration: £11 per copy
– After registration via GRO: £11 per copy
– At registration: £15 per copy
– After registration: £15 per copy
– At registration: £7 per copy
– After registration: £7 per copy
So for 4 certified copies, you’re looking at roughly £35-£55 depending on your UK nation. Additional copies are the same price when ordering after registration.
What to Do With Your Copies
Once you receive your certified marriage certificate copies, it is important to store them safely. Here are some tips:
– Keep the original in a safe essential documents file, safe deposit box, or fireproof home safe. Never mail your original copy.
– Make scanned digital copies to have an electronic backup if the original is lost or damaged. Store secure PDF files in cloud storage or on a USB drive.
– Only mail certified copies if absolutely necessary. Use tracked shipping or registered post.
– When providing copies to agencies, try giving in person rather than posting if possible. Ask them to verify and return the copy immediately.
– Never laminate or photocopy official copies as this can invalidate them. Keep them in pristine condition.
– Know where all copies are located in case you need to access one urgently.
Following these tips will ensure your certified marriage certificates remain safe and valid for any essential identity and marital status verifications required in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do both partners need a copy of the marriage certificate?
No, technically only one original certificate is required as the official proof of marriage. However, it’s strongly advised for both partners to have certified copies in case of emergency or separation.
Does the best man/chief bridesmaid get a copy?
No, the best man and chief bridesmaid do not need copies of the marriage certificate. The only people who require copies are the bride and groom.
Do we need a copy for the honeymoon?
You do not necessarily need one for your honeymoon. However, it can serve as extra confirmation of your new marital status when booking accommodation or travel if you’ve already changed your names.
Can I use a photocopy as proof of marriage?
No, government agencies and financial institutions will only accept original certified copies of your marriage certificate as proof. Photocopies and non-certified printouts are not valid.
What information is included on a UK certificate?
UK marriage certificates include full names of both partners before marriage, occupation, marital status (e.g. bachelor, spinster), ages, current addresses, names of fathers, date and place of wedding, signatures of couple and witnesses, and registration district and date.
While one wedding certificate is technically adequate, ordering 3-5 certified copies from the registry office is recommended to smoothly facilitate all your essential name change notifications, record updates, and important marital status verifications with government bodies, banks, insurers, employers, etc in the UK. Store your copies safely, know their exact location, and avoid mailing or laminating originals. Following these best practices will ensure you have the certified proof of marriage readily available anytime.