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My fiance and I are getting married in October this year and last week we went into our local Registrar’s Office to submit the required Notice of Marriage and to give in all our paperwork.  I have been married before, the wedding was in 1983 and here is a comparison of how the level of bureaucracy has changed since then:

1983 – appointment time was 15 minutes.  We submitted the following documents:

  • Birth Certificates
  • His marriage certificate and decree absolute
  • One proof of address for both of us

We were literally in and out of the office within 10 minutes

2013 – appointment took one and a half hours.  We submitted the following documents:

  • Both passports
  • Both birth certificates
  • My marriage certificate and decree absolute
  • A utlity bill in both names (but this could only be used as proof of address for one person)
  • My driving license (second proof of address)

If you are born after 1982 you also need your mother’s full  birth certificate.

After the form filling we then spent the next hour being interviewed.  You are  interviewed seperately.  I had to leave the room whilst my partner answered a load of questions about me, the wedding date, where he was born, where I was born, my previous marriage, kids,  and so on. After this I was called in and he was sent out, I had to answer the same questions and the answers had to be the same.

We were obviously both born here, and resident here as we had all the relevant paperwork, but we still had to go through this whole process to ensure there was no “marriage of convenience” and they were obviously not wanting to be open to to claims of discrimination.

Even if someone born overseas with English as a second language manages to struggle through this grilling, they still need English language tests, visas and so on.  I know a few people with perfectly legitimate marriages who have been through the mill when they have incomes, businesses and so on to come to.  Some are still in the process.

I did point out that none of this happened 20 years ago and we managed to get married fine and we weren’t over-run with people turning up via these “convenient” marriages. She agreed but says she supposed it “keeps us safe”.  My question is this:

“Keeps us safe” from what, exactly?