We can approve premises, like hotels and stately homes, to be used for the solemnisation ceremonies of civil marriages and the formation of civil partnerships.

Changes to regulations mean we can now approve religious premises for the registration ceremonies of civil partnerships.

What premises can be used

Under current regulations the term ‘premises’ is defined as a permanently immovable structure comprising of at least one room. A boat or other vessel which is permanently moored would also be eligible for approval.

The premises must be a seemly and dignified venue for the proceedings, and ceremonies must take place in an identifiable and distinct part of those premises. The primary use of a building would render it unsuitable if that use could demean proceedings or bring them into disrepute.

Any premises outside this definition, such as open air, a tent, marquee, any other temporary structure and most forms of transport, are not eligible for approval.

Approval for secular premises (non religious)

To apply for approval the premises must not be used for purposes of religious worship as defined by section 6(2) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.

These are premises which are used solely or mainly for religious purposes or which have been used solely or mainly for religious purposes and have not been subsequently used for other purposes. A building that is certified for public worship would fall into this category as would a chapel in a stately home or hospice. However, premises in which a religious group meets occasionally might be suitable if other criteria are met.

Once a premises has been approved for the solemnisation of marriages and the registration of civil partnerships they must be regularly available for the public to use for these ceremonies.

Approval for religious premises

Religious premises are:

  • premises which are used solely or mainly for religious premises
  • or have been so used and have not subsequently been used solely or mainly for other purposes

Only the following types of religious premises may be approved:

  1. a church or chapel of the Church of England
  2. a church or chapel of the Church in Wales
  3. a place of meeting for religious worship included in the list of certified places maintained by the Registrar General under section 7 of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855
  4. a place of meeting for members of the Society of Friends
  5. a Jewish synagogue

Written consent would be required (where appropriate) from the person specified or the governing authority of the religious organisation as part of the application process.

The premises will be approved for the registration of civil partnerships only and must be regularly available for the public to use for that purpose.

All premises must have the benefit of such fire precautions as may be reasonably required by the authority, having consulted with the fire authority.

Who can apply premises approval

An application for premises approval must be made to the Licensing Authority by the proprietor or a trustee of the premises.

The application must meet the premises requirements and regulations.

How long approval lasts

If granted, approval will be valid for three years.


Applying for a new approval or to renew an existing approval is £995, which must be paid when you apply.

What you need to provide with your application

To apply you must submit the following:

  1. a completed application form, declaration and privacy statement
  2. details of ‘the responsible person’. This is the person that will have the responsibility for ensuring compliance with the conditions attached to the approval, and who will be available on the premises for a minimum of one hour prior to and throughout each of the proceedings (they may nominate deputies)
  3. a fee of £995
  4. three copies of a plan of the premises which clearly identifies the rooms in which the proceedings will take place
  5. for Religious Premises, a written consent is required (where appropriate) from the person specified or governing authority of the religious organisation as part of the application process

What happens once you make an application

Once you have submitted your application document, we will advertise your application in the local press and on our web page advising the public of the application made to us.

As soon as possible after the application is received, we will contact you to arrange an appointment to inspect the premises along with the superintendent registrar.

If there are issues or objections to your application we will notify you as soon as is reasonably practical. Your application will then be determined by our Licensing Committee, and we will invite you to attend.

If there are no issues with your application and it meets all the criteria, your approval will be issued after the 21 day period.

All applications will be advertised in a local newspaper on Thursday the week following receipt of your application. Your consultation period will commence from the date of advertisement for a period of 21 days.

Tacit consent will not apply

This means your application will not be granted automatically. It is in the public interest that we must process your application before it can be granted. If you have not heard from us within a reasonable period you cannot assume you have been granted approval. Please contact us in this case. 

Apply by post

How to make an appeal or a complaint

Please contact us in the first instance if you wish to make an appeal. You have a right to seek a review of our decision.

Members of the public who are experiencing problems with licensed premises should contact us for advice.

Sheffield City Council is a part of the European network for delivering information relating to doing business in the European Economic Area. For full information on the EU Services Directive and Points of Single Contact for other member states, go to the European Commission website.