Marriage and Civil Partnerships: Minimum Age, England and Wales

The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 (‘2022 Act’) received Royal Assent on 28 April 2022, and its implications were examined in a post by Russell Sandberg and Kathy Griffiths. Advice was issued by the Faculty Office, and in August 2022 the Government announced that it would be brought into effect on Monday 27 February 2023.

These arrangement were confirmed in the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 (Commencement and Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2023, (“the Regulations”) which were made on 26 January 2023. From 26 February 2023, 16- and 17-year-olds will no longer be able to marry or enter a civil partnership in England and Wales under any circumstances, including with parental or judicial consent.

Part 2 of the Regulations makes transitional provision to void marriage and civil partnership schedules*, which have been issued before these Regulations come into force, where either party will remain under the age of the 18 throughout the validity period of these schedules.

Provision is also made to clarify that where marriage and civil partnership schedules have been issued before these Regulations come into force, and both parties will be aged 18 during the period of validity of the schedules, the schedules may not be used until both parties have turned 18.

Equivalent provision is made for marriages solemnized, and civil partnerships registered, on the authority of a Registrar General’s licence. Replicating provision is made for notices to register as civil partners under the Civil Partnership (Armed Forces) Order 2005 (S.I. 2005/3188), the Civil Partnership (Registration Abroad and Certificates) Order 2005 (S.I. 2005/2761) and the Consular Marriages and Marriages under Foreign Law (No. 2) Order 2014 (S.I. 2016/3265).

* A flow chart in Changes to Marriage Law issued by the Westminster City Register Office on 4 May 2021, highlights the difference between the use of the Marriage Schedule by the Register Office following a couple “giving notice” for Civil Marriage and Religious Marriage (Non-CofE), and the use of the Marriage Document by a Minister in the Church the England following the calling of the Banns. 

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Marriage and Civil Partnerships: Minimum Age, England and Wales" in Law & Religion UK, 1 February 2023,


7 thoughts on “Marriage and Civil Partnerships: Minimum Age, England and Wales

    • The requirements for marriage in Scotland are here; a Marriage Notice form must be completed and sent to the registrar in the area you will be married in, between three months and one month before your wedding date.

    • Yes if they were planned to take place after 27 February – which is why the Government gave a good nine months’ notice of the coming into force of the Act.

    • Yes, if the marriage schedule has not been issued before 27 February 2023, they must wait until both of them are 18 or over.

      If the marriage schedule has been issued but the marriage has not taken place, its validity will be assessed according to the transitional provisions in Part 2 of the Regulations. Nevertheless, a marriage cannot take place until both are 18 or over.

  1. A very silly law. An Unsolution to an Unproblem. There were only a few score marriages of sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds in recent years and there is no reason to think they were all forced. As for Scotland, in theory the law will apply to English youngsters marrying there but it will be impossible to enforce that. There will be some technically void marriages around.

    The real problem is what we used to call non-marriages – the Court of Appeal in Akhter -v- Khan said we should call non-qualifying ceremonies but what’s in a name?They still go on and do serious harm because they create no legal relationship whatsoever.

    What to do about it? First a campaign to educate the communities concerned that marriage involves legal formalities which cannot be ignored. Second reverse Bham so that clerics performing these ceremonies can be prosecuted. Third withdraw rates relief from the premises where they happen.

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