I am a Dutch citizen and got married to a French citizen while we were both resident in Sweden in 2012. Presently we are living in England, United Kingdom. How do we inform the relevant authorities such that we are legally married in the UK? Do we at all?

From Gov.UK:

Contact the local authorities in the country where you want to get married or enter into a civil partnership to find out what you need to do.

Your marriage or civil partnership should be recognised in the UK if you follow the correct process according to local law - you won’t need to register it in the UK.

I'm confused by should be recognised and won't need to register. That seems contradictory. How can the UK “recognise” the marriage if the Register Office are not informed?

I expect it should be relevant for banking, inheritance, tenancies, medical decisions when either partner is unconscious, and perhaps other situations. Is there any form of UK registration required, or do we simply show (a certified translation of) our Swedish marriage certificate / civil status extract for any of those situations? It seems odd that our marital status in the UK civil registry does not say that we are legally married.

  • 2
    Do you even have a record in the UK civil registry? In any event, as I understand it, they only register events, not people. Since you were born outside the UK and married outside the UK, you wouldn't expect to have any records there. It's not like the Netherlands where everyone must be registered with their municipal population register.
    – phoog
    Sep 28, 2016 at 20:57
  • @phoog I'm known to the Job Centre, electoral register, I'm paying council tax, so clearly several authorities know I exist. Whether that puts me in a civil registry, I have no clue!
    – gerrit
    Sep 28, 2016 at 21:52
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    If the UK is anything like the US, and in many respects it is, these agencies have separate databases. As SztupY advised, just tell the ones that care that you're married (the electoral register probably doesn't, for example). If they want to see proof, show your Swedish marriage certificate. If they want a certified translation, get one. Otherwise, you don't have to worry about it. IIRC when I got married I just started checking the "married" box on my tax form. I don't recall having to send a copy of the certificate.
    – phoog
    Sep 28, 2016 at 21:57
  • 1
    as far as I know also marriage in the UK is devolved, so If you'd marry in Scotland the English registrars would have no access to it
    – SztupY
    Sep 28, 2016 at 22:13
  • @SztupY It's more devolved than that. If you married in Cambridgeshire, the registrars in Hertfordshire (an adjacent county) would have no access to it. If you marry in church, I think the marriage registry is held in that church, and there is no way to access it, other than visiting the church. Apr 13, 2018 at 12:35

3 Answers 3


Generally you just say you are married when anyone asks you, in most cases they will just simply believe you.

If they need proof you just have to show them your foreign marriage certificate. If it doesn't have an English translation you should translate it using an official translator though, otherwise they won't know what it means. Some foreign registrars (like the Hungarian) already include English (and maybe others, like French or German) translation on their certificates, not sure about the Swedish one, as I couldn't find a template for it, if it does include English translation on the certificate, it is usually enough.

Usually if you have to provide proof, they will tell you so beforehand, and this process is actually the same regardless whether you were married in the UK or abroad (e.g. they usually ask for proof for everyone).

There was one case at an insurance company where they asked if we were married, and I had to send an image of my certificate on their website to them, which was accepted by them.


The registration process you quoted from gov.uk is only relevant to British citizens.

All countries generally recognize marriages established other countries. (Excepting new stuff like gay marriages).


Usually, when you get married elsewhere you need to translate the documents to the language of the country you want to register your marriage in and get to the proper state office that does this kind of recognition.

The fact that both of you aren't from the UK, makes me think that you already went thru this with your home country.

It's worth to take a look at every country regulation around the topic.

According to the quote you've posted, UK only recognize marriages that were registered in the UK, so you have to go thru the recognition process.

  • We did not do anything in our home countries. I tried to find out how that would work, but without success. It would be a separate question. How do I go through the recognition process for the UK?
    – gerrit
    Sep 28, 2016 at 19:09
  • Maybe because you haven't lived there yet. Your marriage papers are Swedish, back home probably you will need to recognize your marriage if you move back to any of those countries. To the country your are living in, a foreign document can be used if you are a tourist or something similar, but if you live abroad, then the further proof is needed most of the times.
    – iGallina
    Sep 28, 2016 at 19:13
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    I think you misinterpreted the quote: it simply says, that you don't need to tell the UK government that you have married (as it doesn't really care about it), but if you have properly married abroad abiding by the laws of that country, then your marriage will be okay by the UK government in case they would need to confirm it
    – SztupY
    Sep 28, 2016 at 20:35
  • the rest of the gov.uk site is just about how a British citizen can get the necessary paperwork that are usually required by foreign registrar offices
    – SztupY
    Sep 28, 2016 at 20:36
  • This is wrong. There is no way to "register" a foreign marriage in the UK. The fact that UK marriages are registered is essentially irrelevant. If British citizens need to prove they are married, they will have to show a copy of their marriage certificate (just as the OP would). Apr 13, 2018 at 12:40

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