Licensing a venue for civil ceremonies
To hold a marriage or civil partnership ceremony a venue must be licensed by the local authority
- Who can apply
Licensed venues, or 'Approved Venues', can include hotels, stately homes, civic halls and other similar premises. The owner or trustee of the premises must make the application.
You cannot get a licence for:
- a garden
- your house*
- a 'one-off' ceremony
* unless it is made available for the public to use during the term of the 3 year licence and a 'change of use certificate' has been granted from your local planning department
- Religious premises
Civil marriages can’t be conducted anywhere with current or recent religious connections - eg you can’t get a grant of approval for a chapel in a stately home.
Civil partnerships can be conducted on religious premises approved for this purpose. Any application for a grant of approval must be subject to the consent of the faith group’s governing body.
- How long does it take
The licensing process takes 3 months to complete and includes a full inspection from a member of Registration Staff and Hampshire Fire and Rescue. A public notice is also placed on Hampshire County Council's PNA Portal for a period of 21 days.
- Renewing a licence
A licence is valid for 3 years and you should apply to renew within the remaining 12 months of the original licence.
You will receive a reminder in writing advising that your licence is due to expire, 6 months prior to the date of expiry.
- Criteria for applying
We recommend that all potential rooms are included in your application. If you wish to add rooms to the licence at a later date this requires a new licence and will incur the full licence fee.
An approved venue for the purpose of marriage and civil partnership must be a permanent immovable structure comprising of at least one room, or any boat or other vessel that is permanently moored. Marriages or civil partnerships cannot legally be held in the open air, in a tent, marquee or any other temporary structure.
All applications must meet the requirements as set out in Schedule 1 of The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Venues) Regulations 2005
These may be amended from time to time on the instructions of the Registrar General.
Application fee received and being processed before Fee 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 £2396
An approved venue licence is valid for 3 years. As part of the licence, your venue will appear on our approved venue search facility on our website and will be listed in our annual ceremonies brochure.
The fee also includes a full inspection by a Registration Officer and by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
A public notice is placed on Hampshire County Council's PNA portal by Hampshire Registration Service.
Payment can be made by BACS or cheque payable to Hampshire County Council.
- Your responsibilities
You must adhere to the responsibilities as outlined in:
- You need to provide
The following items must be received and checked prior to inspection:
- a copy of the plan(s) of the premises clearly identifying the room/s to be licensed
- a copy of the Premises Public Liability Insurance to a minimum value £5 million, including the expiry date
- a copy of the current Fire Risk Assessment
- a copy of the current H&S Risk Assessment
- a copy of your 'change of use' certificate, if applicable
- Apply now
If you are refused a licence, you can appeal in writing to the Head of Registration stating the basis for your appeal.
There will be a £515 charge for this review which is required in advance of the appeal being processed.