Weddings Abroad: What is a Certificate of No-Impediment (CNI) and how to obtain it?

A Certificate of No-Impediment, also known as a CNI, is a document that states that there are no known impediments for you to marry, in other words, you are free to marry.

It is not always a requirement to produce a Certificate of No-Impediment when you are getting married abroad. You should contact the registrar or local authority who will be conducting your wedding; they should be able to tell you if it is needed or not.

Some authorities abroad will be happy with an affidavit, which is a written declaration where you state that you are free to marry and you swear to be true and sign before a solicitor or Notary Public.

If in your circumstances you do need a proper Certificate of No-Impediment, here is what you need to do:

If you live in the UK, you will have to go to your local register office and give notice that you wish to marry – more or less the same as you would do if you were to marry in the UK, just state that you wish to marry abroad and that you need a CNI.

The certificate will then be issued 21 days after you give notice to marry.

If you live abroad, you would obtain the certificate from the nearest British Embassy.

Note that Certificates of No-Impediment cannot be issued to British nationals if they are getting married in a Commonwealth country. You would have to contact the relevant local authority to find out what would be acceptable instead of the CNI.

If you are getting married in Italy, you will need to obtain a CNI from your local register office, then exchange that for a Nulla Osta at the British Consulate nearest to where you are getting married in Italy. (More information about weddings in Italy can be found on our website)

If you are getting married to an Irish national, you will not be able to obtain a CNI from your local register office, instead you will have to apply for a CNI directly from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office if you live in the UK, or through your local British Embassy if you live abroad. The application form is available on the FCO website.

Weddings Abroad: What is a Certificate of No-Impediment (CNI) and how to obtain it?

Legalisation: What is an Apostille?

Legalisation is the process that confirms that the signature, seal or stamp on a public document is genuine. Documents such as birth, marriage and death certificates, powers of attorney, court documents are examples of the types of documents that can be legalised.
An apostille is the certificate that is attached to a public document confirming the signature, seal or stamp on the document is genuine.
The apostille certificate must contain the following information:
  1. Country of issue
  2. Name of the person who signed the document
  3. The capacity in which the person signed the document.
  4. Details of any seals or stamps in the document
  5. Place of issue
  6. Date of issue
  7. Issuing authority
  8. Certificate number
  9. Stamp or seal of the issuing authority
  10. Signature of the representative of the issuing authority
This is what an apostille looks like:

The apostille was created by the Hague Convention of 5 October 1961 Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents. This means that countries that have signed up to this Convention should accept a foreign document bearing an apostille as genuine, without the need to obtain stamps or further certifications from their consulate.
If you would like to know which countries have signed up to the convention, visit the Hague Conference on Private International Law website for an updated list.
In the UK, the Legalisation Office, which is part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is the only organisation authorised to issue apostilles. They are based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.
You can find more information about legalisation on our website.
Legalisation: What is an Apostille?