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Foreign Marriage Act 1892

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1 Validity of marriages solemnized abroad in manner provided by Act.E+W+S+N.I.

[F1(1)All marriages between parties of whom at least one is a United Kingdom national] solemnized in the manner in this Act provided in any foreign country or place by or before a marriage officer within the meaning of this Act shall be as valid in law as if the same had been solemnized in the United Kingdom with a due observance of all forms required by law.

[F2(2)In this Act “United Kingdom national” means a person who is—

(a)a British citizen, a British Dependent Territories citizen, a British Overseas citizen or a British National (Overseas); or

(b)a British subject under the British Nationality Act M11981; or

(c)a British protected person, within the meaning of that Act.]

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Amendments (Textual)

Marginal Citations

2 Notice to marriage officer of intended marriage.E+W+S+N.I.

In every case of a marriage intended to be solemnized under this Act, one of the parties intending marriage shall sign a notice, stating the name, surname, profession, condition, and residence of each of the parties, and whether each of the parties is or is not a minor, and give the notice to the marriage officer within whose district both of the parties have had their residence not less than one week then next preceding, and the notice shall state that they have so resided.

3 Filing in registry and posting up of notice.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)The marriage officer shall file every such notice, and keep it with the archives of his office, and shall also, on payment of the proper fee, forthwith enter in a book of notices to be kept by him for the purpose, and post up in some conspicuous place in his office, a true copy of every such notice, and shall keep the same so posted up during fourteen consecutive days before the marriage is solemnized under the notice.

(2)The said book and copy posted up shall be open at all reasonable times, without fee, to the inspection of any person.

[F34 Consent to marriage and power to forbid marriage.E+W+S+N.I.
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Amendments (Textual)

(1)The same consent shall be required to the marriage under this Act of a party domiciled in England and Wales or in a country outside the United Kingdom as would be required in respect of that party to a marriage solemnised in England and Wales on the authority of a certificate issued by a superintendent registrar under Part III of the Marriage Act M21949.

(2)The same consent shall be required to the marriage under this Act of a party domiciled in Northern Ireland as would be required in respect of that party to a marriage solemnised there.

(3)No consent shall be required to a marriage under this Act in respect of a party domiciled in Scotland.

(4)The Secretary of State or, in such cases as may be prescribed, the Registrar General for England and Wales may dispense with the necessity of obtaining any consent required by virtue of subsection (1) above if he is satisfied that it cannot be obtained because of the absence, inaccessibility or disability of the person whose consent is so required.

(5)The necessity of obtaining any consent required by virtue of subsection (2) above may be dispensed with by an order under section 2 of the Marriages Act (Northern Ireland) M31954; and for the purposes of this subsection an application for such an order may be made to any county court in Northern Ireland.

(6)Any person whose consent is required to a marriage under this Act may at any time before its solemnisation forbid it by—

(a)writing the word “forbidden” against the entry of the intended marriage in the book of notices; and

(b)adding after that word his name and address and a statement of the capacity by virtue of which his consent is required;

and if a marriage is so forbidden the notice shall be void and the intended marriage shall not be solemnised under that notice.]

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Marginal Citations

M21949 c.76 (49:1).

M31954 c.21 (N.I.).

5 Caveat against marriages may be lodged with marriage officer.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)Any person may on payment of the proper fee enter with the marriage officer a caveat, signed by him or on his behalf, and stating his residence and the ground of his objection against the solemnization of the marriage of any person named therein, and thereupon the marriage of that person shall not be solemnized until either the marriage officer has examined into the matter of the caveat and is satisfied that it ought not to obstruct the solemnization of the marriage, or the caveat is withdrawn by the person entering it.

(2)In a case of doubt the marriage officer may transmit a copy of the caveat, with such statement respecting it as he thinks fit, to a Secretary of State, who shall refer the same [F4to whichever of the following he considers appropriate, that is to say—

(a)the Registrar General for England and Wales;

(b)the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Scotland; or

(c)the Registrar General in Northern Ireland;

and that Registrar General] shall give his decision thereon in writing to the Secretary of State, who shall communicate it to the marriage officer.

(3)If the marriage officer refuses to solemnize or to allow to be solemnized in his presence the marriage of any person requiring it to be solemnized, that person may appeal to a Secretary of State, who shall give the marriage officer his decision thereon.

(4)The marriage officer shall forthwith inform the parties of and shall conform to any decision given [F5under subsection (2) or (3) above].

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Amendments (Textual)

6 When marriage not solemnized within three months a new notice required.E+W+S+N.I.

Where a marriage is not solemnized within three months next after the latest of the following dates—

(a)the date on which the notice for it has been given to and entered by the marriage officer under this Act, or

(b)if on a caveat being entered a statement has been transmitted to a Secretary of State, or if an appeal has been made to a Secretary of State, then the date of the receipt from the Secretary of State of a decision directing the marriage to be solemnized,

the notice shall be void, and the intended marriage shall not be solemnized under that notice.

7 Oath before marriage.E+W+S+N.I.

Before a marriage is solemnized under this Act, each of the parties intending marriage shall appear before the marriage officer, and make, and subscribe in a book kept by the officer for the purpose, an oath—

(a)that he or she believes that there is not any impediment to the marriage by reason of kindred or alliance, or otherwise; and

(b)that both of the parties have for three weeks immediately preceding had their usual residence within the district of the marriage officer; and

[F6(c)where either party is under the age of eighteen years and domiciled in a country other than Scotland—

(i)that any consent to the marriage which is required in respect of that party has been obtained,

(ii)that the necessity of obtaining any such consent in respect of that party has been dispensed with, or

(iii)if that party is domiciled in England and Wales or in a country outside the United Kingdom, either that he or she is a widow or widower or that there is no person having authority to give any such consent.]

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Amendments (Textual)

8 Solemnization of marriage at office in presence of marriage officer and two witnesses.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)After the expiration of fourteen days after the notice of an intended marriage has been entered under this Act, then, if no lawful impediment to the marriage is shown to the satisfaction of the marriage officer, and the marriage has not been forbidden in manner provided by this Act, the marriage may be solemnized under this Act.

[F7(2)Every such marriage shall be solemnised—

(a)at the official house of the marriage officer, with open doors, between 8 am and 6 pm, in the presence of two or more witnesses;

(b)by the marriage officer or, if the parties so desire, by another person in his presence; and

(c)according to such form and ceremony as the parties see fit to adopt.

(3)Where (apart from this subsection) it would not be stated or otherwise indicated in the course of the ceremony adopted by the parties that neither of them knows of any lawful impediment to their marriage, then, in some part of the ceremony and in the presence of the marriage officer and witnesses, they shall each declare—

“I solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why A.B. [or C.D.] may not be joined in matrimony to C.D. [or A.B.].”

(4)Where (apart from this subsection) it would not be stated by each of the parties in the course of the ceremony adopted by them that he or she takes the other as wife or husband, then, in some part of the ceremony and in the presence of the marriage officer and witnesses, each of the parties shall say to the other—

“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I A.B. [ or C.D.] take thee C.D. [or A.B.] to be my lawful wedded wife [or husband]”.]

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Amendments (Textual)

9 Marriage fees to marriage officer and registration of marriages.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)The marriage officer shall be entitled, for every marriage solemnized under this Act by him or in his presence, to have from the parties married the proper fee.

(2)He shall forthwith register in duplicate every such marriage in two marriage register books, which shall be furnished to him from time to time for that purpose by the [F8Registrar General for England and Wales] (through a Secretary of State), according to the form provided by law for the registration of marriages in England, or as near to that form as the difference of the circumstances admits.

(3)The entry in each book of every such marriage shall be signed by the marriage officer, by the person solemnizing the marriage, if other than the marriage officer, by both the parties married, and by two witnesses of the marriage.

(4)All such entries shall be made in regular order from the beginning to the end of each book, and the number of the entry in each duplicate shall be the same.

(5)The marriage officer by whom or in whose presence a marriage is solemnized under this Act may ask of the parties to be married the several particulars required to be registered touching the marriage.

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Amendments (Textual)

10 Annual forwarding of copies of register book to Secretary of State.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)In January in every year every marriage officer shall make and send to a Secretary of State, to be transmitted by him to the [F9Registrar General for England and Wales], a copy, certified by him to be a true copy, of all the entries of marriages during the preceding year in the register book kept by him, and if there has been no such entry, a certificate of that fact; and every such copy shall be certified, and certificate given, under his hand and official seal.

(2)The marriage officer shall keep the duplicate marriage register books safely until they are filled, and then send one of them to a Secretary of State, to be transmitted by him to the [F9Registrar General for England and Wales].

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Amendments (Textual)

11 Marriage officers and their districts.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)For the purposes of this Act the following officers shall be marriage officers, that is to say:—

(a)Any officer authorised in that behalf by a Secretary of State by authority in writing under his hand (in this Act referred to as a marriage warrant); and

(b)Any officer who, under the marriage regulations hereinafter mentioned is authorised to act as marriage officer without any marriage warrant,

and the district of a marriage officer shall be the area within which the duties of his office are exerciseable, or any such less area as is assigned by the marriage warrant or any other warrant of a Secretary of State, or is fixed by the marriage regulations.

(2)Any marriage warrant of a Secretary of State may authorise to be a marriage officer—

(a)a British ambassador residing in a foreign country to the government of which he is accredited, and also any officer prescribed as an officer for solemnizing marriages in the official house of such ambassador;

(b)the holder of the office of British consul in any foreign country or place specified in the warrant; and

(c)a governor, high commissioner, resident, consular or other officer, or any person appointed in pursuance of the marriage regulations to act in the place of a high commissioner or resident, and this Act shall apply with the prescribed modifications to a marriage by or before a governor, high commissioner, resident, or officer so authorised by the warrant, and in such application shall not be limited to places outside Her Majesty’s dominions.

(3)If a marriage warrant refers to the office without designating the name of any particular person holding the office, then, while the warrant is in force, the person for the time being holding or acting in such office shall be a marriage officer.

(4)A Secretary of State may, by warrant under his hand, vary or revoke any marriage warrant previously issued under this Act.

(5)Where a marriage officer has no seal of his office, any reference in this Act to the official seal shall be construed to refer to any seal ordinarily used by him, if authenticated by his signature with his official name and description.

12. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F10E+W+S+N.I.
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Amendments (Textual)

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Amendments (Textual)

13 Avoidance of objections to marriages on account of want of formalities or authority of officer.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)After a marriage has been solemnized under this Act it shall not be necessary, in support of the marriage, to give any proof of the residence for the time required by or in pursuance of this Act of either of the parties previous to the marriage, or of the consent of any person whose consent thereto is required by law, nor shall any evidence to prove the contrary be given in any legal proceeding touching the validity of the marriage.

(2)Where a marriage purports to have been solemnized and registered under this Act in the official house of a British ambassador or consul, . . . F11 it shall not be necessary in support of the marriage, to give any proof of the authority of the marriage officer by or before whom the marriage was solemnized and registered, nor shall any evidence to prove his want of authority, whether by reason of his not being a duly authorized marriage officer or of any prohibitions or restrictions under the marriage regulations or otherwise, be given in any legal proceeding touching the validity of the marriage.

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Amendments (Textual)

14, 15.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F12E+W+S+N.I.
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Amendments (Textual)

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Amendments (Textual)

16 Evidence.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)Any book, notice, or document directed by this Act to be kept by the marriage officer or in the archives of his office, shall be of such a public nature as to be admissible in evidence on its mere production from the custody of the officer.

(2)A certificate of a Secretary of State as to any house, office, chapel, or other place being, or being part of, the official house of a British ambassador or consul shall be conclusive.

17 Application of Registration Acts to this Act.E+W+S+N.I.

All the provisions and penalties of the Marriage Registration Acts, relating to any registrar, or register of marriages or certified copies thereof, shall extend to every marriage officer, and to the registers of marriages under this Act, and to the certified copies thereof (so far as the same are applicable thereto), as if herein re-enacted and in terms made applicable to this Act, and as if every marriage officer were a registrar under the said Acts.

[F13In this section “the Marriage Registration Acts” means the enactments for the time being in force in England and Wales relating to the registration of marriages.]

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Amendments (Textual)

18 Registration of marriages solemnized under local law.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)Subject to the marriage regulations, a British consul, or person authorised to act as British consul, on being satisfied by personal attendance that a marriage between parties, of whom one at least is a [F14United Kingdom national], has been duly solemnized in a foreign country, in accordance with the local law of the country, and on payment of the proper fee, may register the marriage in accordance with the marriage regulations as having been so solemnized, and thereupon this Act shall apply as if the marriage had been registered in pursuance of this Act, except that nothing in this Act shall affect the validity of the marriage so solemnized. [F15(2)In the case of such marriages solemnized as aforesaid at which a British consul, or person authorised to act as British consul, has not attended, His Majesty may by Order in Council provide in such classes of cases, and subject to such conditions, as may be prescribed by the Order—

(a)for the transmission to and receipt by the Registrars-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively, of certificates of such marriages issued in accordance with the local law; and

(b)for the issue by those Registrars-General, on payment of such fees as may be prescribed by the Order, of certified copies of such certificates received by them, and for enabling such certified copies to be received in evidence.

(3)Any Order in Council made under the foregoing provisions of this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order in Council, and any Order in Council made under this section shall be laid forthwith before each House of Parliament.]

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Amendments (Textual)

19 Power to refuse solemnization of marriage where marriage inconsistent with international law.E+W+S+N.I.

A marriage officer shall not be required to solemnize a marriage, or to allow a marriage to be solemnized in his presence, if in his opinion the solemnization thereof would be inconsistent with international law or the comity of nations;

Provided that any person requiring his marriage to be solemnized shall, if the officer refuses to solemnize it or allow it to be solemnized in his presence, have the right to appeal to the Secretary of State given by this Act.

20 Fees.E+W+S+N.I.

The proper fee under this Act shall be such fee as may for the time being be fixed under the [F16Consular Fees Act 1980]; and the fee so fixed as respects a consul shall be the fee which may be taken by any marriage officer; and the provisions relating to the levying, application, and remission of and accounting for fees under that Act shall apply to the same when taken by any marriage officer who is not a consul.

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Amendments (Textual)

21 Power to make marriage regulations.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)Her Majesty the Queen in Council may make regulations (in this Act referred to as the marriage regulations):—

(a)Prohibiting or restricting the exercise by marriage officers of their powers under this Act in cases where the exercise of those powers appears to Her Majesty to be inconsistent with international law or the comity of nations, or in places where sufficient facilities appear to Her Majesty to exist without the exercise of those powers, for the solemnization of marriages to which a [F17United Kingdom national] is a party; and

(b)Determining what offices, chapels, or other places are, for the purposes of marriage under this Act, to be deemed to be part of the official house or the office of a marriage officer; and

(c)Modifying in special cases or classes of cases the requirements of this Act as to residence and notice, so far as such modification appears to Her Majesty to be consistent with the observance of due precautions against clandestine marriages; and

(d)Prescribing the forms to be used under this Act; and

(e)Adapting this Act . . . F18 to marriages by or before a governor, high commissioner, resident, or other officer, and authorizing the appointment of a person to act under this Act in the place of a high commissioner or resident; and

(f)Determining who is to be the marriage officer for the purpose of a marriage in the official house of a British ambassador, . . . F18 whether such officer is described in the regulations or named in pursuance thereof, and authorizing such officer to act without any marriage warrant; and

(g)Determining the conditions under which and the mode in which marriages solemnized in accordance with the local law of a foreign country may be registered under this Act; and

(h)Making such provisions as seem necessary or proper for carrying into effect this Act or any marriage regulations; and

(i)Varying or revoking any marriage regulations previously made.

(2)All regulations purporting to be made in pursuance of this section may be made either generally or with reference to any particular case or class of cases, and shall be . . . F19 laid before both Houses of Parliament, . . . F19

(3)Any marriage regulations which dispense for any reason, whether residence out of the district or otherwise, with the requirements of this Act as to residence and notice, may require as a condition or consequence of the dispensation, the production of such notice, certificate, or document, and the taking of such oath, and may authorize the publication or grant of such notice, certificate, or document, and the charge of such fees as may be prescribed by the regulations; and the provisions of this Act, . . . F20, shall apply as if the said notice, certificate, or document were a notice, and such oath were an oath, within the meaning of those provisions.

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Amendments (Textual)

Modifications etc. (not altering text)

[F2122 Validity of marriages solemnized by chaplains of H. M. forces serving abroad and other persons.E+W+S+N.I.
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Amendments (Textual)

(1)A marriage solemnized in any foreign territory by a chaplain serving with any part of the naval, military or air forces of His Majesty serving in that territory or by a person authorised, either generally or in respect of the particular marriage, by the commanding officer of any part of those forces serving in that territory shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be as valid in law as if the marriage had been solemnized in the United Kingdom with a due observance of all forms required by law:

. . . F22

[F23(1A)Subsection (1) above shall not apply to a marriage unless—

(a)at least one of the parties to the marriage is a person who—

(i)is a member of the said forces serving in the foreign territory concerned or is employed in that teritory in such other capacity as may be prescribed by Order in Council; or

(ii)is a child of a person falling within sub-paragraph (i) above and has his home with that person in that territory; and

(b)such other conditions as may be so prescribed are complied with.

(1B)In determining for the purposes of subsection (1A) above whether one person is the child of another—

(a)it shall be immaterial whether the person’s father and mother were at any time married to each other; and

(b)a person who is or was treated by another as a child of the family in relation to any marriage to which that other is or was a party shall be regarded as his child.]

(2)In this section the expression

  • foreign territory” means territory other than—

(a)any part of His Majesty’s dominions;

(b)any British protectorate; or

(c)any other country or territory under His Majesty’s protection or suzerainty or in which His Majesty has for the time being jurisdiction:

Provided that His Majesty may by Order in Council direct that—

(i)any British protectorate or any such other country or territory as is referred to in paragraph (c) hereof; or

(ii)any part of His Majesty’s dominions which has been occupied by a State at war with His Majesty and in which the facilities for marriage in accordance with the local law have not in the opinion of His Majesty been adequately restored;shall, while the Order remains in force, be treated as foreign territory for the purposes of this section.

(3)Any reference in this section to foreign territory, to forces serving in foreign territory and to persons employed in foreign territory shall include references to ships which are for the time being in the waters of any foreign territory, to forces serving in any such ship and to persons employed in any such ship, respectively.

(4)His Majesty may by Order in Council provide for the registration of marriages solemnized under this section, . . . F24

(5)Where a marriage purports to have been solemnized under this section, it shall not be necessary in any legal proceeding touching the validity of the marriage to prove the authority of the person by or before whom it was solemnized, nor shall any evidence to prove his want of authority be given in any such proceeding.

(6)Any Order in Council made under the foregoing provisions of this section may be varied or revoked by a subsequent Order in Council, and any Order in Council made under this section shall be laid forthwith before each House of Parliament.]

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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Amendments (Textual)

23 Saving.E+W+S+N.I.

Nothing in this Act shall confirm or impair or in anywise affect the validity in law of any marriage solemnized beyond the seas, otherwise than as herein provided, and this Act shall not extend to the marriage of any of the Royal family.

24 Definitions.E+W+S+N.I.

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires,—

  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F25

  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F25

  • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F25

  • The expression “official house of a marriage officer” means, subject to the provisions of any marriage regulations, the office at which the business of such officer is transacted, and the official house of residence of such officer, and, in the case of any officer, who is an officer for solemnizing marriages in the official house of an ambassador, means the official house of the ambassador:

  • The expressio “consul” means a consul-general, consul, vice-consul, pro-consul, or consular agent:

  • The expression “ambassador” includes a minister and a charge d’affaires:

  • The expression “prescribed” means prescribed by marriage regulations under this Act

  • [F26The expression “United Kingdom national” has the meaning given by section 1(2) above.]

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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Amendments (Textual)

25. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F27E+W+S+N.I.
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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Amendments (Textual)

F27Ss. 25, 26(1),(except para.(b)), and Sch. repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1908 (c. 49)

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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Amendments (Textual)

F27Ss. 25, 26(1),(except para.(b)), and Sch. repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1908 (c. 49)

26 Repeal and savings.E+W+S+N.I.

(1)The Acts specified in the Scedule to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent in the third column of that Schedule mentioned.

Provided that—

(a). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F28

(b)any proceedings taken with reference to a marriage, any register book kept, and any warrant issued in pursuance of the Acts hereby repealed, shall have effect as if taken, kept, and issued in pursuance of the Act; and

(c)(d). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F28

(2). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . F29

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Annotations are used to give authority for changes and other effects on the legislation you are viewing and to convey editorial information. They appear at the foot of the relevant provision or under the associated heading. Annotations are categorised by annotation type, such as F-notes for textual amendments and I-notes for commencement information (a full list can be found in the Editorial Practice Guide). Each annotation is identified by a sequential reference number. For F-notes, M-notes and X-notes, the number also appears in bold superscript at the relevant location in the text. All annotations contain links to the affecting legislation.

Amendments (Textual)

F28Ss. 25, 26(1),(except para.(b)), and Sch. repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1908 (c. 49)

27 Short title.E+W+S+N.I.

This Act may be cited as the Foreign Marriage Act, 1892.

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