Ely Diocesan Registry

Banns

Where a marriage is to take place in the parish church of the parish where one of the parties resides, the banns must be called in that church and in the parish church of the parish where the other party to the marriage resides.

If the marriage is to take place in the church of a parish where neither party resides, but in a church which is the "usual place of worship" of one of the parties (i.e. one of the parties is on the church electoral roll of that church), or in a church with which one of the parties can show a qualifying connection under the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008, banns must be called in that church, as well as in each of the parishes where the parties reside.

Where there is a parish with no parish church, or where there is a parish church which does not have a service every Sunday, or the parish church is temporarily closed for repairs, the parish can be treated as part of any adjoining parish, so that banns may be called in the church of any adjoining parish and the marriage solemnised there.

If either of the couple are non-European nationals, instead of banns (or a Common Marriage Licence) they must each apply for a Superintendent Registrar's Certificate from the relevant civil register office. This is the case since 2nd March 2015 when the law changed; unless a couple has been informed that the 'transitional arrangements' apply to them. If such a couple have any of the legal entitlements to marry in a parish church then a Superintendent Registrar's Certificate can now be obtained on the same basis as banns could have been previously. For example, if the bride has a 'qualifying connection' to the parish, neither she nor the groom need also to be currently residing in the parish at the point of applying for the Certificate. It is not the case that a British or European couple can obtain a Certificate on the basis of a 'qualifying connection' to the parish.

Couples will need to show to clergy some evidence of their nationality. Usually this will be a passport or (for some European citizens) national identity card. Clergy will advise couples on the exact requirements. Guidance for the clergy is found in the General Register Office's 'Guidebook for the Clergy', including a flow-chart to help clergy establish whether a person who does not have a current British Passport is a British National. The Guidebook can be found via our 'Recommended Reading' page.

If a couple wish to be married in the church of a parish where neither resides or is on the church electoral roll, and where neither can claim a qualifying connection under the Church of England Marriage Measure 2008, they will need to apply instead for a Special Licence. (But see the question which deals with multi-parish benefices.)

An application for the calling of banns must be made to the minister of each parish where banns are to be called. Banns must be called on three Sundays (not necessarily consecutive Sundays) prior to the wedding and a certificate of publication must be obtained.

A marriage after the calling of banns must be solemnized within three months of the last occasion on which banns were called.