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Council Services:

Apply for a venue licence

By law, marriages and civil partnerships must take place in readily identifiable premises. Therefore, marriages and civil partnership cannot take place:

  • in the open air;
  • in a tent, marquee or any other temporary structure;
  • in most forms of transport.

Ceremonies must be held in premises with ‘open doors’ which means that the public must have the chance to:

  • witness the ceremony;
  • make objections before or during the ceremony.

A private house is unlikely to be an appropriate venue for civil marriage or partnership:

  • It would not be known to the public as a marriage / partnership venue.
  • It would not be regularly available for public use.

Lincolnshire County Council considers licensed venue applications for premises wishing to hold civil, non-religious ceremonies. This does not include applications for registration offices. Proprietors and trustees of appropriate buildings can apply for their premises to be licensed for ceremonies. Licenses are given by the council in conjunction with the Registrar General.

Initial licensing

The premises need to fulfil the following criteria before approval:

  • must be regularly available to the public for marriages and civil partnerships
  • must have reasonable fire precautions as required by the council and have consulted with the fire authority
  • must have reasonable health and safety precautions as required by the council to protect employees and visitors
  • must be no recent or continuing connection between the premises and any religion, religious practice or religious persuasion
  • the room or rooms selected for the ceremonies must be identifiable, by description, as a distinct part of the premises

The council will also consider the venue’s primary use, situation, construction and state of repair.


  • Licensed venues must be available for inspection at all reasonable times.
  • For one hour before and during a ceremony, a suitable notice must be displayed at each public entrance. The notice should inform the public that the premises have been approved for marriages and civil partnerships and give directions to the room in which the ceremony is being held.
  • No food or drink may be sold or consumed in the ceremony room for one hour before or during the ceremony.
  • Marriage and civil partnership ceremonies take place in a room approved for marriages and civil partnerships which is separate from any other activity on the premises at the time of the ceremony.
  • The arrangement for, and content of, each marriage / civil partnership ceremony must meet with the prior approval of the registration officer for the district in which the licensed venue is situated.
  • Any reading, music, words or performance, forming part of the marriage or civil partnership ceremony must be secular in nature.

The premises must also fulfil the following requirements set by the authority:

  • Be accessible to all areas for people using wheelchairs and/or pushing prams.
  • Have a separate room in which there is a writing table and three chairs. It must be suitable for pre-ceremony questioning by the registration officer.
  • Access to toilet facilities for people who are disabled.
  • Adequate parking arrangements, including parking for disabled people in the immediate vicinity of the premises.
  • Have arrangements in place for the clearance of confetti.
  • Ensure the absence of noise from other activities at the time of the ceremony.

Ceremonies at licensed venues may be followed by a celebration, commemoration or blessing of the couple’s choice, provided that it is separate from the civil ceremony and that the marriage or civil partnership ceremony was not religious. The council can revoke approval if a religious connection becomes clear by:

  • religious blessings regularly following ceremonies
  • a religious part of the service being offered at the premises

Renewal of approval

You can apply for a renewal when your current approval has between six and twelve months to run:

  • Renewal applications made in this period will extend the current approval until the renewal has been dealt with
  • A renewal will run from the expiry date of the current approval


The council may revoke an approval if:

  • the use or structure of the premises has changed and requirements can no longer be met
  • the holder has failed to comply with one or more of the conditions attached to the approval

It will only do this after considering any statements from the holder.

The Registrar General may direct the council to revoke an approval if, in his opinion there have been breaches of the law relating to marriage or civil partnership at the licensed venue. He will first consider any statements from the holder.

When an approval has been revoked regulations require the former holder to notify any couples who have arranged a marriage or civil partnership on the premises.


For a fee of £50, you can ask the council to review its decision to:

  • attach local conditions
  • refuse to grant an approval
  • refuse to renew an approval
  • revoke an approval

The review will be carried out by members of the council's appeals sub-committee which may confirm the decision, overturn it or vary it with new or extra conditions. A direction by the Registrar General to revoke an approval is not subject to review by the council.

The way forward

The proprietor or a trustee of the premises needs to apply to register the venue and one or more rooms for marriage and provide evidence to support the application.

A superintendent registrar and Lincolnshire County Council representative will inspect the premises to check for compliance with:

  • General Register Office regulations
  • Council regulations

Before a licence can be approved or renewed, the intention is advertised in a local newspaper and the fire service is contacted. If, after 21 days, there are no adverse comments, a licence is granted/renewed.

For any queries about the licensing process, call 01522 782244 or email

Need an appointment?

For your convenience, you can book an appointment to register a Birth or Death online.


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Last updated: 15 May 2017

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