Short notice marriage

When diagnosed with a progressive illness many people wish to set their affairs in order.

For some this may include arranging a marriage to a long standing partner for financial security and for clarity of inheritance.

Usually, there must be a period of 29 days between submitting a notice to get married and the marriage taking place. However, in certain circumstances, it is possible to apply for a dispensation allowing this 29 day period to be waived, allowing you to get married more quickly. To apply for a dispensation you need to contact the district registrar for the area where the marriage is to take place, who will contact the National Records of Scotland with the request. There are some situations where it may be difficult to grant a dispensation, for example following a divorce or marriage to a non-British national, but efforts are usually made to accommodate the request if possible. 

In Scotland religious marriages can take place anywhere, ministers having the power to marry couples wherever they see fit (including in hospitals, although consent from the hospital authority and subsequent registration of the marriage should be arranged).

Civil weddings in Scotland must take place on registered premises. The National Records of Scotland or relevant district registrar should be able to advise. 

The papers required for a marriage dispensation are:

  • letter from consultant or other specialist confirming the person’s state of health
  • signed letter from one or both parties requesting the marriage dispensation and stating the reason for the request
  • marriage form M10 completed (download from the National Records of Scotland website)  

If out of hours, the relevant district registrar should be contacted on the local emergency number. Arrangements will then be made for collection of completed papers and the final papers to be faxed from Head Office in Edinburgh.

The number for your local registrar is available on the National Records of Scotland website

Last updated:
26 June 2024