Marriage and Civil Partnership Place Approvals

Under the Marriage (Northern Ireland) Order 2003, the Council can grant venues, such as hotels and restaurants, a three-year licence to hold civil marriage and partnership ceremonies, subject to a successful application.

Who needs an Approved Venue licence?

If your premises are used to hold wedding ceremonies you must have an Approved Venue licence.

The legislation is intended to allow civil marriage/partnerships to be solemnised at any approved location including any premises, fixed buildings, temporary structures, enclosures and similar structures, land (including any land covered with water insofar as within the jurisdiction of the registration district) and any vessels or vehicles.

When is a licence needed?

A licence is required if the ceremony is being carried out by a Registrar.

If the ceremony is carried out by a Minister, Priest or Humanist then a licence is not required.

Types of approval

The legislation allows two types of Approval to be granted:

  1. A Place Approval 

    This means the approval, by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, of a place where civil marriages/partnerships may be solemnised.

    The Approval licence is valid for 3 years and covers all civil ceremonies/registrations at the designated premises.

    There are several places in Mid and East Antrim which have licences to hold civil marriage and partnership ceremonies, subject to the availability of a registrar. 

    You can view a full list of venues on the NIDirect website.
  2. A Temporary Place Approval

    This means approval, by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, of a place where a civil marriage/partnership may be solemnised for one occasion in its district.

    The approval licence is valid for one event only on the date specified at the designated place.

    These applications are intended for ceremonies on private land or residences.

Who can apply for a Place Approval?

  1. A Place Approval (valid for 3 years) – applications may be made by the Proprietor or a trustee of suitable premises for use as a civil marriage/partnership venue.
  2. A Temporary Place Approval (single occasion only) – applications must be made by either of the parties to an intended civil marriage/partnership.

Note: Approval shall not be granted where Mid & East Antrim Borough Council is of the opinion that the applicant is not a fit and proper person.

Which premises/locations can be approved?

Any premises/location which meets the requirements of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council’s Approval process can be approved.

The following conditions will determine suitability:

  1. The premises/location must provide an appropriate and dignified setting for the celebration of marriage/civil partnership.
  2. Marriage/civil partnerships must be solemnised at identifiable places within the Registration district.
  3. Health and Safety regulations and Fire regulations must be complied with.
  4. Public Liability Insurance must be provided.
  5. The premises must have no recent or continuing religious connections.
  6. The safety of Registration Office staff and their legal documents will be a consideration as to the suitability of the premises.

How to apply

Application submission and fees

Guidance on how to apply and the application form and public notice are available through the downloadable document on our Guidance on Approved Venues for Marriage and Civil Partnerships page.

For a 3-year Place Approval, the completed application form must be signed by the Proprietor of the Premises or his/her Trustee.

A copy of this form is available in Appendix 1 on the downloadable document on our Guidance on Approved Venues for Marriage and Civil Partnerships page.

In the case of Temporary Place Approvals, the bride or groom/civil partners must complete and sign the form at Appendix 2 on the downloadable document on our Guidance on Approved Venues for Marriage and Civil Partnerships page.

The following documentation is required to be submitted along with the application form:

  • 2 copies of layout plans for the place/premises showing the ceremony/registration rooms and any outdoor areas
  • Electrical Installation Condition Report (within last 3 years)
  • Emergency and Escape Lighting System Inspection Report
  • Fire Alarm and Detection System Inspection Report
  • Certificate of Inspection for Firefighting Equipment
  • Copy of Fire Risk Assessment for the venue
  • Certificate of Public Liability Insurance

If premises already hold an entertainment licence for the venue please contact us to confirm whether these additional documents and certificates are all required

Forms should be submitted with all appropriate documents and the application fee of £440 for the grant or renewal of licence of both standard and temporary Place approvals.

Application for a temporary place approval should normally be made 6 months prior to the date approval is required.

Public Notice

The Marriage Regulations (NI) 2003 and the Civil Partnership Regulations (NI) 2005 require that public notice be given of an application for a place approval (both 3-year and temporary). 

Mid & East Antrim Borough Council requires public notice template (Appendix 2) be displayed by the applicant in a prominent place on/at the premises/place for 21 days. 


Any person may give notice, in writing, to Mid and East Antrim Borough Council of an objection to an application for the granting of a place approval in accordance with the Regulations.

Council shall consider the objection providing that the objection:

  1. specifies the name and address of the person making it
  2. specifies the reason for the objection
  3. was made to Mid & East Antrim Borough Council within 21 days from the date on which public notice was first displayed at the place to be approved

Decision to grant or deny Place Approvals

All Approval applications will be acknowledged within 10 days of receipt.

Approvals which are granted will be issued within 3 months of application providing all requirements have been met.

Refusals will be issued within 3 months.

Inspection of Places for Approval

Places/venues will normally be inspected by the Registrar and/or other representatives of the Council, and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Further inspections may be carried out should a 3-year Period Approval be granted.

Temporary Approvals will be granted on condition that the “marriage/civil partnership venue” meets required standards at time of inspection

Renewal of a Place Approval

The approval holder may apply for the renewal of a 3 year Place Approval.

A renewal will run from the expiry date of the current Place Approval.

A further application fee of £440 is payable for inspection of the premises and the issue of a renewed Approval.

The Council will normally send out renewal applications at least 3 months in advance.

As long as the renewal application and fee are received before the expiry date the Place Approval will continue to be valid until the renewal application is determined.

Temporary Place Approvals cannot be renewed – even if a civil marriage/partnership has previously taken place at that location – each civil marriage/partnership will require separate temporary place approval.

Contact us

Please contact us in the first instance if you have any queries in relation to marriage and civil partnership licensing:

T: 028 2826 2498

Licensing Section
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
Public Protection and Wellbeing Department
Smiley Buildings
Victoria Road
BT40 1RU