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Is my marriage abroad recognised in Scotland?

Published: 29 May 2019
Time to read: 3 mins

Destination weddings are becoming more common, with holiday companies reporting a year on year rise and continuing to expand their offering to cater for demand. We are also seeing a continual rise is international relocation as people move with work, or to marry someone with a different nationality.  These two trends mean we are seeing increasing numbers of people who live in Scotland, but were married abroad. It’s important for the couple to know if that foreign marriage is recognised in Scotland automatically, or if anything needs to be done here.

Does a foreign marriage need to be registered in Scotland?

There is no need to register an overseas marriage.

Your marriage or civil partnership will be automatically recognised in Scotland if:

  1. You followed the correct procedures in the country where you got married; and
  2. The marriage is allowed under UK law.  For example, it is not a polygamous marriage.

 Is there an option to register it in Scotland for completeness?

There is no longer a service for registering an overseas marriage in Scotland.

If you are asked to prove your marriage status you will need to provide originals (or certified copies) of your marriage documents from the country where you were married.  It is therefore vitally important to keep the original marriage certificate safe It may be sensible to have it formally translated by an approved company and keep the English version (and the translation certificate) with the originals.   In some circumstances, it may be necessary for you to have the documents legalized, but you would be told about this by the foreign authorities at the time of marriage.

What can I do if I don’t have my overseas marriage certificate anymore?

It is possible to apply to the Scottish Court for a declarator of marriage.  However, It is expensive and time consuming, and so normally only happens if there is a good reason for it.  For example, an application might be made if a couple have separated and so there are potential financial claims which require proof of marriage, or one spouse has died, and so the right to claim a share of the estate on death hinges on proving they were, in fact, spouses.  For most other people the first port of call will be to make enquiries in the country where the marriage took place and see if a second copy can be obtained from the authorities there.

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