Are marriages solemnized online in the United States of America legally valid in the United Kingdom?
The term “online marriage” is not written in the law yet. The concept of online marriages only started in 2019 and the law has not been updated since then.
The marriage will be recognized in the UK if both of the following apply:
- The marriage must be recognized as a legal marriage in the country in which it took place and the parties to the marriage must have complied with the procedures required in the country of marriage
- It would be allowed under UK law, if
- Any previous marriage must be terminated properly
- The couple must have the legal capacity to marry under the laws of the country in which they are residing at the time of the marriage
Source: Getting married abroad – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
According to the Foreign Marriage Act 1892, the formal validity of a marriage is, as a general rule, to be determined by the law of the country where the marriage is celebrated.
Source: Foreign Marriage Act 1892 (repealed) (legislation.gov.uk)
A marriage contracted outside the UK and that is valid under the law of the State where it took place, is recognized in the UK as a valid marriage. This means that online marriage is considered valid and legal in the US, which is the place where it took place and accepted by US law, should be recognized in the UK as a valid marriage.
How to get your online marriage registered in the UK
Marriage performed abroad, involving at least one British citizen does not need to register the marriage with the UK authorities.
To deposit your foreign marriage certificate with the General Register Office in the UK has been discontinued, no action is needed to register a foreign marriage in the UK. It is therefore important to keep and store your marriage certificate in a safe place.
Source: Marriage certificate registry service discontinued for overseas Brits – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Marriage and Visa Regulations
If you are a foreign national who got married to a British citizen, or vice versa, and you wish to settle in the UK permanently, then you will need to apply for a spouse visa.
- Being legally married that is recognized in the UK
- Since online marriage is legal in the US, and you get a legal official marriage certificate after the marriage is done, then the marriage should be accepted by law in the UK.
- You intend to live together as husband and wife once settled in the UK
- You must have met each other in person and be able to prove that you’re in a genuine relationship – you have been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply
- The couple must be 18 or over
- Have a good knowledge of English
- Can financially support yourself and your dependents
You can also see more information about partner or spouse visas in Family visas: apply, extend or switch: Apply as a partner or spouse – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The Embassy/Consular officer are not legally qualified to determine the validity of the marriage. Only a court of law in the UK can determine the validity and legality of the marriage done abroad. Under UK legislation marriages involving at least one British citizen taking place abroad, before the competent authority, and which are legally valid in that country, are likely recognized valid in the UK.
While we guarantee that online marriage is legal according to the laws in the US, it is not certain that the court of law and Immigration Services of your home country will recognize such union as valid. They may require further verification and additional documents if deemed necessary.