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Becoming a ceremony venue

In England and Wales civil marriage and civil partnership ceremonies can only take place in register offices or venues which have been granted an ‘approved premises’ licence.

Applying for an approved premises licence is straightforward. The process takes approximately 8-12 weeks following receipt of your completed application form and payment of the necessary fee.

The process includes a site visit to the venue by the Superintendent Registrar. Once approved, your venue will be listed on our website as well as being added to a national database which lists all licensed venues in England and Wales.

If you would like to speak to the Superintendent Registrar before making your application contact the South Gloucestershire Register Office on 01454 863140.

It is possible to licence venues that focus on ceremonies only, however private homes aren’t considered suitable to licence for civil marriages and civil partnerships.

Registrars to conduct a ceremony and register a marriage or civil partnership are provided by South Gloucestershire Register Office and must be booked by the couple direct with the Register Office.

Before applying we strongly recommend you read The General Register Office approved premise regulations to ensure that your venue is suitable for a licensing.

Apply for or renew a licence

Applications should be made by the owner, manager or trustee of the premises using our official application form together with the correct fee.

Download our approved premises application pack  which includes the application form and guidance notes relating to the application.

Your application must also include

  • a copy of a valid Fire Risk Assessment. For information on completing a fire risk assessment visit the Avon and Somerset Fire and Rescue website
  • a copy of any relevant planning permission which applies to the venue
  • a copy of a valid public liability insurance certificate
  • a copy of a valid premises licence (formerly known as Public Entertainment licence)
  • three copies of the plan (or plans) of the premises clearly identifying their location and the room(s) to be licensed. This should include room measurements in metres on the plans. Plans should be no larger than A3.

We recommend you include all the rooms which may possibly be used for ceremonies on your application. Although you can add extra rooms at a later date, an additional fee will be charged equivalent to the licence fee if you require changes to be made during the term of the licence. You are therefore advised to withhold changes until the expiry of the current licence.

Send completed forms to:

The Superintendent Registrar
South Gloucestershire Register Office
Chief Executive and Corporate Resources Department
PO Box 1953
Bristol
BS37 0DB

Fees can be paid by cheque, payable to South Gloucestershire Council or by BACs transfer.

Licence duration

A licence will normally run for three years from the date of issue and will terminate at the end of that period unless renewed or revoked. We contact existing approved premises licence holders six months before their licence is due to expire to invite them to renew their licence.

Licence holders are welcome to submit renewal applications anytime during the last year of the current licence, preferably at least six months before the existing licence expires. The fee payable is the current licence fee.

Fees

The fee to license or renew a licence for an approved premises is £3,255.

The fee covers the cost to the council of processing your application, publication of an official notice on the South Gloucestershire Council website, inspections during the three year approval period, inclusion on the General Register Office official list and the council website.

Once an application fee has been accepted and costs have been incurred, no refund will be made.

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