If you wish to hold a civil wedding or civil partnership in premises in Northern Ireland, the premises must first be approved by your local Council.
Eligibility Criteria - Who Can Apply?
- Place Approval - an application for a place approval may be made by the proprietor or a Trustee of suitable premises for use as a civil marriage/ civil partnership venue.
- Temporary Approval - these applications must be made by either of the parties to an intended civil marriage/ civil partnership.
Approval shall not be granted where the Council is of the opinion that applicant is not a fit and proper person.
What Premises And Locations Can Be Approved?
Any premise or location that meets the requirements of the Council’s approval process. The following conditions of approval under the Marriage Regulations 2003 19(b) and Schedule 12 will determine suitability:
- The premises/ location must provide an appropriate and dignified setting for the celebration of marriage.
- Civil marriages must be solemnised at identifiable places within the Registration district.
- Health and Safety Regulations and Fire Regulations must be satisfied.
- Public Liability Insurance must be provided.
- The premises must not have a recent or continuing religious connection.
- The safety of Registration Office staff and their legal documents will be a consideration as to the suitability of the premises.
There is no limit to the number of rooms that can be approved for marriages. The Council would expect the number of rooms to be kept to a minimum to avoid confusion. Please note that each application fee covers the rooms contained in one building.
Marriages must only take place in a room/location which is approved.
A separate room must also be available for the confidential interviewing of the marriage parties.
Where approval is sought for outdoor locations appropriate shelter must be provided in case of inclement weather. If the alternative is a separate location (i.e. hotel where the reception is to be held) then Approval must be sought for this location as well.
Regulation Summary (www.legislation.gov.uk)
Marriage Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003
The Civil Partnership Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005
The information provided below is intended as a step-by-step guide through the process that an application for an “Approved Place for Marriage” is subject to before being approved or refused.
- Application form with accompanying fee of £400 is recorded, receipted and checked.
In considering an application the Council may consult with the following:
- The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service
- The Police Service for Northern Ireland
- The District Registrar – Registrars Conditions of Approval
- The Council’s Environmental Health Department
- The Council’s Building Control Department
On receipt of the application the Council shall arrange for public notice of the application to be given by placing notices in two local newspapers. The applicant is also required to give public notice by placing a Site Notice in a prominent position on the premises.
Any person may give notice of their objection to the application by writing to the Council. The Council will take into account any objections received when deciding on the grant of approval. A copy of any objections shall be sent to the applicant.
On receipt of all replies from those bodies consulted and all the required documentation to support the application the premises will be inspected by a Council Officer.
Following this inspection the application will be placed before the Council and a recommendation made. The Council will decide whether or not to grant the approval based on the replies received from the consultees and after having considered any objection made.
Conditions of Application
Documents and items mentioned below are required in support of your application for a Place Approval:
- The completed application form.
- The required fee of £400 – all cheques should be made payable to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.
- Two character references to help determine if applicant is a ‘fit and proper person’ as required by the legislation.
- Three sets of plans for the place applied for showing the internal layout of the premises including the room to be used for the marriage and the room to be set aside for the Registrar. These plans must be of scale 1:100. If the place applied for is outdoors three location maps will be required indicating the marriage venue, along with points of entry and exit.
- Electrical Certificates
Test certificates indicating that the following have been suitably tested:
All electrical certificates provided must be completed by a competent electrical contractor who must carry out to work to the appropriate British Standard or equivalent. The appropriate electrician/ tester will issue the certificates required
- The Electrical Installation itself
- Any Emergency Lighting Systems
- Any Fire Alarm Systems
- Details of public liability insurance in respect of the place for which approval is sought.
A suitable and sufficient risk assessment completed by a competent person, which should meet the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations (NI) 2001.
Any other certification that may be deemed appropriate to determine the application (such as Fire Fighting Equipment test certificates, material flammability certificates etc.)
Will Tacit Consent Apply?
No. It is in the public interest that the authority must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from the local authority within a reasonable period, please contact it.
Apply Online (www.gov.uk):
Apply to use a premises for marriages and civil ceremonies
Apply to change a licence to use a premises for civil marriages and civil partnerships
Failed Application Redress
Please contact Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council in the first instance. Applicants will be notified within 10 working days of any Council decision in respect of the application.
Where an application is refused the applicant can appeal to the County Court. This must be done within 21 days of the date the applicant has been notified of such a decision.
Licence Holder Redress
Please contact Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council in the first instance.
We would always advise that in the event of a complaint the first contact is made with the trader by you - preferably in the form a letter (with proof of delivery).
If that has not worked, if you are located in the UK, Consumer Direct will give you advice. From outside the UK contact the UK European Consumer Centre.
Any complaints concerning approval of premises for Civil Marriage and Civil Partnership should be made directly to the Registrar by Tel: 028 944 63113 , or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trade Associations and Useful Links
Northern Ireland Hotels Federation (NIHF)