One of the following is required before a marriage may be solemnized according to the rites of the Church of England:
- Banns, which are the normal preliminary and can be used in most cases where one of the parties has a qualification for the Church or Chapel where they wish to marry. Marriage by banns may not be possible if notice is given allowing insufficient time before the marriage is to take place; and in the case of the marriage of foreigners, it is recommended that the licence procedure be used rather than banns if there is any doubt as to the legal requirements of the foreigner's home country for recognition of an English Church marriage
- A Common Licence, which may be used as an alternative in all cases appropriate for banns, and may also be used where there is not sufficient time for publication of banns. It is granted in the name of the Bishop of the Diocese, who has discretion whether to grant it. In order to obtain such a licence, one of the parties must have one of the qualifications as for banns i.e. residence in the parish, electoral roll membership, or a qualifying connection under the Marriage Measure 2008. Application should be made to a surrogate for granting marriage licences within the Diocese, or to the Diocesan Registrar. A common licence must also normally be used where one, or both of the parties, is a foreign national. Please see the guidance on marriage for foreign nationals on the Faculty Office website
- A Superintendent Registrar's Certificate. This is also an alternative to banns, involving the publication of a notice at the Register Office of the district. The minister of the Church in question has discretion whether to accept a Superintendent Registrar's Certificate as an adequate preliminary. It can only be used where a party is resident in the parish or on the Church electoral roll.
- A Special Licence, which is required where neither party is resident nor has a qualification for another type of preliminary, or where the marriage is to take place in a building which is neither a parish Church nor licensed by the Bishop for marriages. However, a special licence is only granted at the discretion of the Archbishop of Canterbury, each application being considered on its merits.Application for such a licence should be made to the Registrar of the Court of Faculties at 1 The Sanctuary, Westminster SW1P 3JT