Marriage Laws in England

UK Visas and Immigration
Read Time 3 mins Minutes

Marriage Laws in England

Marriage laws in England have recently been updated.

Previously in the UK you could marry at the age of 16 years old if you had parental consent.  It was contradictory as you were only considered an adult at the age of 18 years.  This meant that even if you were married you could not enter into other legal contracts, buy tobacco or alcohol in the UK as the legal age is still 18 years.

However, recently this has now changed.

Marriage Laws in England

The minimum age of marriage has now been raised to 18 years, aligning with other legal age restrictions in the country. This means that individuals can no longer marry at the age of 16 with parental consent, as was previously allowed.

If you are planning to sponsor a spouse or apply for a visa based on marriage, it is essential to ensure that both parties are over the age of 18 to comply with immigration laws. If you are unsure about the requirements, it is recommended to seek advice from an immigration consultant who can provide guidance on the legalities of marriage and immigration.

For UK immigration spouse visas, it has always been 18 years of age for both the sponsor and the applicant.

Valued Protections

The new Marriage laws in England also aims to protect vulnerable children from abuse and exploitation.  Making it illegal to arrange marriages for those under 18 years, regardless of whether force is used or not. Previously forced marriages required a threat or coercion before it was an offence. This means that it is now a criminal offense to force anyone into marriage.     In addition, this is regardless of whether the marriage is religious or legally recognised with a possible sentence of up to 7 years imprisonment.

It is important to note that the new law on Marriages in England only apply to England and Wales.  Scotland and Northern Ireland still allowing individuals to marry at the age of 16 or 17 with parental consent. If you are unsure about the marriage laws in a specific region, it is recommended to seek advice from a legal professional or immigration consultant.

What about the rest of the World?

It is hoped that the UN will back this.  To push the law out to all other countries by the end of 2023.  Ending child marriages for both girls and boys.

The guardian reported that in 2021 the Forced Marriage Unit intervened in 118 cases.  The courts issued 3343 forced marriage protection orders from 2008.

The Minister for safeguarding Sarah Dines said “Forced marriage is an abuse of human rights which denies vulnerable children the freedom to learn, grow and thrive.”

If you are affected by these changes to UK marriage laws and need help with your immigration status seek advice.  The consultant can help you navigate the complexities of immigration law. Ensure that you are fully compliant with all relevant regulations.

For advice on forced marriages or UK Immigration Spouse Visas or Partner visas please email 

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