Ask the Lawyer: How can I make sure my foreign marriage is valid in the UK?

PinkNews brings you the latest in a series of features which sees your real questions answered by leading lawyers at Simpson Millar.

The question comes from a person who wants to marry their partner who is not from the UK in a wedding abroad.

They want to ensure their marriage will be valid and that they can return to the UK together permanently.

British passport

They ask: “My partner is from the Philippines and wants to join me permanently in the UK. We
want to get married abroad but are concerned about what the Home Office will accept
as a valid marriage when we come to apply. What should we do?

A Simpson Millar lawyer answers, saying: “It’s become more complex for British citizens’ partners who are from outside of the EU to come and settle with their loved ones in the UK since the changes to the Immigration Rules in 2012. A general overview of the requirements can be found on the Home Office’s website.

“One particular challenge is making sure that the UK government will recognise your
marriage or civil partnership.

“Since 2014, same-sex couples can choose between marriage and civil partnership. The UK also recognises overseas same-sex marriages. However, this is not the case for every
country in the world. Many countries continue to not recognise same-sex marriage and civil partnerships.”

Adding: “Unfortunately, same-sex marriage is still not legally recognised in the Philippines.

This is despite previous promises from the current president who recently set the pursuit to one side.

“There are instances where the Home Office will recognise civil partnerships performed in another country contained within Schedule 20 of the Civil Partnership Act 2004. There are limited countries that appear on the list and the Philippines does not feature among them.

“Whilst the Home Office may recognise other types of civil partnership, again, same-sex civil partnership is not recognised in the Philippines.”

The lawyer continues: “This is a familiar issue for same-sex couples who wish to marry abroad. Thankfully, there is another option. You can register a civil partnership or same-sex marriage with a British Diplomatic Post. A full list of British Diplomatic Posts can be accessed via

“You can access the specific details for the Post in Manila, Philippines by visiting

“You will see that the embassy in Manila is able to issue affirmations or affidavits of marital status and, in some circumstances, perform a marriage or civil partnership for British nationals.

“It is important to check what the exact requirements for registration/marriage within a British embassy are via the Government’s website – you can do this by answering the questions found here:

“The specific requirements for a same-sex couple who would like to get married at the Manila embassy can also be found here:”

If you’d like to discuss your situation in more depth and what options you have, feel free to get in touch with one of Simpson Millar’s Immigration Law solicitors on 0800 260 5005 or click here to request a call-back.

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