Guidance on Marriage and Baptism


The Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Act 2022 was granted Royal Assent on 28 April 2022 and came into effect on Monday 27 February 2023. It is now unlawful for 16 and 17-year-olds to marry or enter a civil partnership in England and Wales under any circumstances, including with parental or judicial consent.

The Registry has prepared a handbook primarily intended for clergy, which explains:

  • the key legal issues about a priests obligations;
  • the concept of marriage preliminaries (Superintendent Registrars Marriage Schedule, Common Licences, Special Licences and Banns), and when each might be appropriate;
  • the qualifying persons and qualifying connection rules;
  • the rules as to publishing banns;
  • the place at which a marriage can take place;
  • the ceremony;
  • registration.
  • There is also advice as to what to do in the event of objections to banns or at a marriage service.

This section also includes a list of the Surrogates based around the diocese who deal with swearing Affidavits for the Common Licence procedure, and has a copy of the guidance note specifically issue to Surrogates to explain what they will consider. Clergy will be able to access emergency contact numbers for Surrogates and for the Registrar through MyDiocese. The form of Affidavit which is used by Surrogates is included for ease of reference.

For the assistance of clergy in particular, we include the General Register Office guidance note 2015, which all clergy should read. It is a really useful resource for addressing queries regarding marriage registers and proof of identity.

A note on Apostilles is included. These are rarely encountered, but are a process through which the Foreign Office certifies marriage certificates for use abroad. Clergy may wish to refer to this if they receive a request for authentication of a signature, to ensure that the request is being made by an appropriate party.


We have included a Guidance Note addressing the particularly sensitive question of baptism where full parental consent is not available.

Surrogates in Lichfield Diocese

Here is the current list of Surrogates in the diocese.

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