Please note: The London Borough of Islington Council provides registration services for the City of London Corporation across both boroughs, including licencing of approved premises. In this document ‘the Council’ refers to London Borough of Islington Council and the City of London Corporation.

1. Premises

The premises must :

i) having regard to their primary use, situation, construction and state of repair be, in the opinion of the Council, a seemly and dignified venue which is regularly available to the public for the solemnisation of marriages or the registration of civil partnerships.

iii) have the benefit of adequate fire precautions as may reasonably be required by the Council having consulted with the fire authority and other provisions for the health and safety of persons employed in or visiting the premises, as described in Schedule B as well as adequate toilet facilities.

In considering the suitability of premises the Council will have regard to the following guidance from the Registrar General:

1. The laws relating to “Approved Premises” are intended to allow proceedings to take place regularly in hotels, stately homes, civic halls, similar premises without compromising the solemnity of the occasion.

2. The 2005 regulations (as amended) define “premises” as “built premises” together with “linked outdoor areas”:

  • “Built premises” are defined as a permanently immovable structure comprising at least a room or any boat or other vessel which is permanently moored.
  • “Linked outdoor areas” are now defined as “any areas within the boundary of the land of which the built premises form part, which are not built premises and which may be used in common with the built premises”. This amended definition captures outdoor locations within the boundary of the same property as the Approved Premises but, in particular, permits proceedings to be held in semi-permanent structures (such as marquees) within the linked outdoor area, without any requirement that the structure have at least 50% open sides (as was required by the temporary regulations which ran from 1 July 2021 to 5 April 2022). The definitions of “built premises” and “linked outdoor areas” are mutually exclusive, providing greater clarity to venues and couples over the distinction between ceremonies held in an approved room or in the linked outdoor areas.

Any premises outside this definition, such as most forms of transport, or land which is not land of which the built premises form part would not be eligible for approval. The minimum requirement for approval is that there must be built premises, whether or not there are any linked outdoor areas.

In addition, there are other statutory requirements that must be met before an approval can be granted:

3. In terms of the built premises, having regard to their primary use, situation, construction and state of repair, these must, in the opinion of the authority, be a seemly and dignified venue for the proceedings. Proceedings on built premises must take place in a room, or room within the built premises which are identifiable by description as a distinct part of those premises.

4. The primary use of a building would render it unsuitable if that use could demean proceedings or bring them into disrepute.

5. The built premises must be regularly available to the public for use for the solemnization of marriages, or the formation of civil partnerships; and must not be religious premises which:

  • Are used solely or mainly for religious purposes, or
  • Have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes.

6. On the day of any ceremony in an outdoor linked area, a named licenced room in the built premises large enough to hold the ceremony party and guests must be reserved and set up for a ceremony, in case of bad weather. The registrar will have the final say on whether the weather is too bad for the ceremony to take place outdoors. The only exception to this is outdoor linked areas that are protected from bad weather, such as a marquee.

Any approval granted by an authority for secular premises is for both the solemnization of marriages and for the registration of civil partnerships.

2. Application Forms

An applicant must supply to the Council:

  • an application form supplied by the Council (application form or renewal form)
  • a plan of the premises and any linked outdoor areas, drawn to such scale that it clearly identifies the room/s or area/s in which ceremonies and interviews are intended to be performed
  • a seating plan of each ceremony room/area, showing the layout if the maximum number of guests were present
  • a fire risk assessment for the venue dated within the last year
  • an access strategy document, outlining how people with disabilities will access the licensed parts of the premises and the sanitary facilities. Please click here to see an example access strategy document.
  • (For City of London venues only) confirmation from the City of London Planning department confirming holding occasional ceremonies at the venue will not constitute a change of use for the venue. If you have not already received this, please email the City of London planning department to request this before applying.

The Council will, as soon as practicable after receiving the application arrange for the premises to be inspected.

3. Applicants

An application for approval shall be made by any proprietor or trustee of a premise.

The form of application shall be signed by the applicant, or a solicitor or other duly authorised agent acting on behalf of the applicant.

4. Notification of Application

A person making application for approval or renewal of approval of any premises shall give public notice of the application. This public notice will be posted on the venue’s behalf by the Proper Officer for Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages on Islington Council’s Say I Do website (click here to visit the notice page).

The Council will make the application and plan available to members of the public for inspection at Islington Town Hall until the application has been approved, refused or withdrawn.

5. Fees

The relevant non returnable fee must accompany the application. Payment can be accepted using the online form, or by cheque made payable to the London Borough of Islington.

6. Period of Approval

The approval will be for five years and shall be renewable providing application, accompanied by the appropriate fee, is made to the Proper Officer not less than 6 months or more than 12 months before it is due to expire.

7. Objections

Any person or authority who wishes to object either to the grant or renewal of an approval shall, within 21 days of the date of publication of the advertisement, write to the Proper Officer giving in detail the grounds of the objection. The Proper Officer shall forward to the applicant a copy of every written objection received by and accepted as such by the Council.

The Council will not entertain an objection where it considers the ground of the objection is a matter which it cannot take into account.

Having received the application and fee, inspected the premises, made such enquiries as appropriate regarding the health, safety and planning matters, and considered any valid objection, the Council shall decide whether or not to grant an approval.

The Proper Officer shall notify the applicant and any objector of the decision in writing as soon as is practicable.

8. Appeals

If the application is rejected, or the applicant is aggrieved in relation to the attached conditions other than those required by the Marriages and Civil Partnership (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005, the applicant has a right of appeal to the Council. The Council shall be notified of this as soon as is practicable. Objectors have no right of appeal other than by judicial review.

At any such appeal, the Officer or Committee hearing it will permit the applicant to address them in reply to objections made.

At any oral hearing the reasons for declining the approval shall be heard first through counsel, solicitor or otherwise and witnesses may be called.

The applicant shall then be heard in reply through counsel, solicitor or other duly authorised representative if the applicant so desires and may call witnesses.

Applicants and those acting on behalf of the Council shall be entitled to cross examine. Each party may make a closing statement.

Where the application is made by a body corporate, business firm, society, association or other group, they shall be represented by a duly authorised representative or Solicitor or Counsel.

9. Consideration of Approval

Where an application for the renewal of an existing approval is being determined the current approval will continue to remain valid until such time as the application is decided or withdrawn.

The Council will keep a register, open for public scrutiny during normal office hours in which is recorded the name by which the approved premises is known, the description of the room(s) to be used for solemnisation, the full postal address, the name and address of the holder of the approval, the date of approval and date of expiry, if the approval is renewed, the date of the renewal, the names, addresses and positions in the organisation of persons having responsibility for ensuring compliance with conditions relating to the approval and if approval is revoked, the date on which revocation takes effect.

The Council may refuse to grant approval if it considers having regard to the number of other approved premises in its area, that there are insufficient officers to be available regularly to attend solemnisation of marriage.


1. The holder of the approval must ensure that there is at all times an individual with responsibility for ensuring compliance with these conditions (“the responsible person”) and that the responsible person’s occupation, seniority, position of responsibility in relation to the premises, or other factors indicate that he or she is in a position to ensure compliance with these conditions.

2. The responsible person or, in his/her absence, an appropriately qualified deputy appointed by him/her shall be available on the premises for a minimum of one hour prior to each ceremony and throughout each ceremony.

3. The holder must notify the authority –

(a) of his name and address immediately upon him becoming the holder of an approval under regulation 7(2), and

(b) of the name, address and qualification of the responsible person immediately upon the appointment of a new responsible person.

4. The holder must notify the Council immediately of any change to any of the following:

(a) the layout of the premises, as shown in the plan submitted with the approved application, or in the use of the premises.

(b) the name or full postal address of the approved premises.

(c) the description of the room/rooms/linked outdoor area/s  in which ceremonies are to be conducted.

(d) the name or address of the holder of the approval, and

(e) the name, address or qualification of the responsible person.

5. The approved premises must be made available at all reasonable times for inspection by the Council.

6. A suitable notice stating that the premises have been approved for the proceedings and identifying and giving directions to the room/linked outdoor area in which a ceremony is to take place must be displayed at each public entrance to the premises for one hour prior to the ceremony and throughout the ceremony. A sample notice (Form C) is included in the annex to the licence document.

7. No food or drink may be sold or consumed in the room/linked outdoor area in which a ceremony takes place for one hour prior to that ceremony or during that ceremony.

8. All proceedings must take place in a room/linked outdoor area which was identified as one to be used for that purpose on the plan submitted with the approved application.

9. The room/linked outdoor area in which the proceedings are to take place must be separate from any other activity on the premises at the time of the proceedings. The holder will exercise control over areas adjacent to the ceremony room/linked outdoor area to ensure that the proceedings be carried out without interruption by noise.

10. The arrangements for and content of the proceedings must meet with the prior approval of the Superintendent Registrar.

11. (1) any proceedings conducted on approved premises shall not be religious in nature.

(2) in particular, the proceedings shall not:

(a) include extracts from an authorised religious marriage service or from sacred religious texts;

(b) be led by a minister of religion or other religious leader;

(c) involve a religious ritual or series of rituals;

(d) include hymns or other religious chants; or

(e) include any form of worship.

(3) But the proceedings may include readings, songs or music that contain an incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context.

(4) For this purpose, any material used by way of introduction to, in any interval between parts of, or by way of conclusion to the proceedings shall be treated as forming part of the proceedings.

12. Public access to any ceremony in approved premises must be permitted without charge.

13. Any reference to the approval of premises on any sign or notice, or on any stationery or publication, or within any advertisement may state that the premises have been approved by the authority as a venue for marriages and civil partnerships but shall not state or imply any recommendation of the premises or its facilities by the Council, the Registrar General or any of the officers or employees of either of them.

14. If a change of name to the approved premises occurs after the issue of the certificate for marriage or the civil partnership document, but before the proceedings, the former name of the approved premises as recorded in the certificate for marriage or the civil partnership document shall remain valid for its duration for the purpose of the proceedings, unless the licence variation process is completed.

15.  The holder must identify and provide an additional room or other arrangements acceptable to the Proper Officer, whereby the Superintendent Registrar may interview the couple in private prior to the ceremony.

16. The maximum number of people in the ceremony room/linked outdoor area as set on the licence may not be exceeded.

17. The holder must ensure, before he/she confirms the date and time of any ceremony that the parties to the proceedings have checked that a Superintendent Registrar and a Registrar will be available to officiate at the proceeding at the date and time in question.

18. The holder must ensure that the premises are maintained in an acceptable standard of repair and decoration.

19. The holder shall be responsible for ensuring quiet and orderly behaviour at and departure from the vicinity by people attending and leaving the proceedings.

20. A box of tissues and drinking water should be made available to the registrars and the couple involved in the marriage or civil partnership in the interview room and ceremony room/area.

21. Such other conditions relating to the premises as shall be advised to the holder in the approval document.


22. Marriage or civil partnership ceremonies can be held at any time but their timing will be at the discretion of the local authority.

23. No more than 20 ceremonies a year are to be held at the venue, to ensure there is no material change of use for which planning permission would be required.

24. Such other conditions relating to the premises as shall be advised to the holder in the approval document.