Legal guidance

The latest legal guidance from the diocesan registrar for the notice of our churches.

Ukrainian flags

The advice from the Chancellor in response to queries about whether churches in Bath and Wells can display Ukrainian flags in solidarity to its people in light of the current conflict is that it is perfectly correct and it is for the minister and churchwardens to decide on this matter either on the church building or elsewhere within the curtilage.

Change to minimum age for marriage in February 2023

From Monday 27 February 2023, the minimum age for anyone to marry in England and Wales will rise to 18. A guidance note with further details can be downloaded below.

Changes to marriage law following Brexit

A guidance note (14 June 2021) relating to changes to marriage law following Brexit can be downloaded below.

Changes to the ecclesiastical preliminaries applied from 1 July 2021, following UK withdrawal from the European Union.

Following Brexit, The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Act 2020 (Consequential, Saving, Transitional and Transitory Provisions) (EU Exit)

Regulations 2020 have amended the Marriage Act 1949 so far as it relates to the definition of a ‘relevant national’. Only relevant nationals can marry by banns or Common Licence so this is important if you are asked to marry a couple where one or both of them is an EEA or Swiss national.

A 'relevant national' changes and will mean:

(a) a British/UK citizen;

(b) an Irish citizen; or

(c) a person who has EU Settlement Scheme settled status, or a pending application

for settled status; or

(d) a person who has EU Settlement Scheme pre-settled status, or a pending

application for pre-settled status (if they had been in the UK <5years).

This means that after 1st July 2021 you cannot marry by banns or common licence anyone who is not a British or Irish citizen or who does not have settled or pre-settled EU status (unless the transitional provisions apply). European citizens will come under the same category as other foreign nationals.

Instead, the options for the couple are to marry by civil preliminaries (the newly named Marriage Schedule) through the Register Office or, in limited cases, an Archbishop’s Special Licence. All local Register Offices will be able to deal with these applications from 1st July.

Checking settled status

If one or both of a couple say that they have settled status, this needs to be checked on the Government website:

You will need the person whose status you are checking to:

(a) send you a ‘share code’ – this is created when that person gives you permission to view their status from the online status portal and (b) tells you their date of birth. 

Once you have input this information into the government webpage, you should see the person’s photo, name and their status.


NB 1   A non-EEA citizen can be granted Settled Status if they are a family member of an EEA citizen.

NB 2  EEA citizens travelling to the UK to marry need a mandatory marriage visitor visa issued through the British embassy in the country where they normally reside before coming to the UK

Who to contact

If you have further questions about these changes, please contact the Diocesan Registry.

You can email Sara Williams, Registry Manager - or ring 01225 324406.


Guidance to apply to reserve a grave space or cremation plot in a churchyard. November 2023

Application for to apply to reserve a grace space or cremation plot in a churchyard. November 2023

Marriage age change 2023

Registry Update newsletter autumn 2023

Marriage guidance notice: Changes to marriage law following Brexit June 2021

Churchyard regulations 2020

Guidelines for proposed exhumations

Closure of churchyards - guidance on procedure

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