Births, Deaths & Ceremonies - Coronavirus updates

Last updated: 19 April 2021

Ceremony restrictions due to COVID-19  

Following the Government announcement on 22 February 2021, the roadmap out of lockdown outlines the following restrictions for ceremonies on or after 29 March 2021.

The Government roadmap outlines the following restrictions for ceremonies on or after 29 March 2021:

  • 29 March 2021: 6 attendees (including the couple). Exceptional circumstances no longer applies
  • 12 April 2021: 15 attendees (including the couple)
  • 17 May 2021: 30 attendees (including the couple)
  • 21 June 2021: 30 attendees (including the couple)

The limits from 21 June 2021 have not been confirmed by the Government.

Although the Government have given clear limits on the number of attendees, the numbers will be less depending on the size of the ceremony room. The limits for Southampton Registration services have been risk assessed with social distancing in mind. Please see the following restrictions on attendees for our venues:

  • Statutory Office: The couple + 2 adult witnesses
  • The Magnolia Room: The couple + 2 adult witnesses
  • The Golden Jubilee Room:
    • 29 March 2021 - The couple + 4 guests + 1 professional photographer
    • 12 April 2021 - The couple + 13 guests + 1 professional photographer
    • 17 May 2021 - The couple + 16 guests + 1 professional photographer
    • 21 June 2021 - The couple + 16 guests + 1 professional photographer (subject to Government review of numbers after 21 June 2021)
  • Westgate Hall:
    • 29 March 2021 - The couple + 4 guests + 1 professional photographer
    • 12 April 2021 - The couple + 13 guests + 1 professional photographer
    • 17 May 2021 - The couple + 23 guests + 1 professional photographer
    • 21 June 2021 - The couple + 23 guests + 1 professional photographer (subject to Government review of numbers after 21 June 2021)

Hotels and Venues: Please refer to the venue regarding their numbers. The venue must still follow the restrictions set out in the Government roadmap, but will have risk assessed each of their ceremony rooms to allow for social distancing.

If the limit on numbers is too restrictive for you, please contact the ceremonies team who will be happy to discuss new dates with you. An administration fee may apply.

Additional restrictions for ceremonies:

  • Please only arrive 10 minutes prior to your ceremony time along with your guests. If you arrive too early you will be asked to wait off site
  • You will need to provide a guest list, including any children up to the maximum of the room. Anyone who turns up on the day and is not on the list provided, will not be allowed to enter the building
  • We will ask that you and your guests download the NHS COVID-19 mobile app ready to scan the QR code when you all arrive at any of our venues. For information on the app please visit the NHS COVID-19 app information
  • Usual COVID-19 restrictions apply – anyone in any households attending not showing signs of COVID-19 in the last 10 days
  • If you (the couple) or any of your guests have flown into the UK from abroad within 10 days of the ceremony you are likely to be subject to the 10-day quarantine ruling. You must follow current Government guidelines and quarantine in line with the legislation, even if this means that the ceremony will be postponed. if you are concerned please contact us
  • Your guests and witnesses must wear a face covering/mask (exemptions apply). You, the couple, do not need to wear a face covering/mask
  • Your ceremony will be very basic without any enhancements such as readings. You will be interviewed together in the ceremony room before your guests come in. This means that you will not be able to walk down the aisle or make an entrance. Once the ceremony is complete you and your guests will need to leave the premises as soon as possible in line with safety protocol
  • No live music or singing allowed. You will need to bring music on your own hands free device (no plug-ins permitted) for a guest to play. Music cannot be religious in nature
  • No ring cushion will be available and you cannot bring your own
  • A bouquet of flowers is allowed, however you must pass them to your guest and not leave on a chair or table
  • No confetti of any description is allowed to be thrown inside or outside at any venue during this pandemic
  • No bubbles to be blown inside or outside at any venue during this pandemic
  • Photographs / filming will be allowed during the ceremony however they will have restricted movement. All filming and streaming must have prior written consent to do so. There will not be a chance for posed family photographs at the end. This means inside or outside. There are local parks within close proximity to Bugle Street and Westgate Hall for further photographs
  • No air conditioning available as it is not vented externally and ventilation may not be possible (some windows cannot be opened)
  • The room will look very different to how you imagine. There will be limited decorations and no chair ties. The layout will be changed to accommodate the two metre distancing recommendations. Everyone must be seated, there will be no standing
  • No parking at the office / on the premises for any vehicle including the ceremony/bridal car
  • There will be no certificate issued on the day. Your certificates will be posted to you as soon as possible
  • No food or drinking on premises
  • Toilet facilities might only be available upon request
  • At Westgate Hall, the lift facility will be restricted and we cannot guarantee its availability on the day

Guide for ceremony guests

Disclaimer (temporary amendment during COVID-19)

Please be aware that because of COVID-19 the Council has had to cancel a number of ceremonies due to the restrictions on social events imposed by Central Government.

Please be aware that if you are re-booking you have agreed to do so at your own risk. We cannot guarantee that ceremonies booked will be able to proceed as they will be subject to any further restrictions that Central Government imposes. If ceremonies have to be cancelled due to pandemic or other reasons in line with the terms then the Council cannot be held responsible and is not liable for any ceremony that has to be cancelled. If however we cannot deliver a ceremony because of COVID-19 or other health pandemics Southampton City Council will allow you to postpone or cancel your date.

If ceremonies are not able to proceed on the booked dates because of COVID-19 or other health pandemics then the Council will try to accommodate an alternative booking but this may be subject to an administration fee, and you may have to join a waiting list.

Any re-bookings are not guaranteed to be in the same year. We recommend that you check your insurance policy. The Council reserves the right to charge an admin fee to any changes that you make to your booking. Any ceremonies that you have agreed to proceed with during this time, will be subject to restrictions imposed by Central Government and Southampton City Council.

Please note that any change to your ceremony date may mean that you will need to give fresh notices which carry a statutory fee and any immigration referral fees will also need to be paid again. This will apply to any new notice appointments booked and notices given since 4 July 2020 as you have agreed to proceed at your own risk.

Download our full terms and conditions.


If your ceremony is before 21 June 2021  

If you have a booking from 29 March - 21 June 2021 and the Government guidelines are too restrictive for you, you may be thinking of changing your ceremony date.

During the pandemic you can choose from the following options:

  • Option A - Move your current booking until after 21 June 2021. This will not incur any additional cost, however our terms and conditions will apply and you will be re-booking your ceremony at your own risk
  • Option B - Cancel without re-booking. The cancellation policy in relation to the impact of COVID-19 is currently suspended, so you will receive a full refund of your ceremony fee. This excludes the non-refundable booking fee, any notices fees and associated costs

Please remember that the Government roadmap out of lockdown is subject to change at any time based on the rate of infection. It is important to take into account that we cannot predict what any ceremony will look like over the coming months. What works best for you both is something that you should consider carefully, remembering that ceremonies could still be postponed or cancelled due to new Government guidelines and staffing.

At the present time we are only able to deal with email enquiries. Please be assured that our ceremonies co-ordinator will respond to any queries raised as soon as possible. This may take some time; please be patient.


New ceremony bookings 

We are now accepting new ceremony bookings, subject to availability. All new bookings are taken providing that the couple are free to marry and are able to proceed with their ceremony as per our terms and conditions. Existing ceremony restrictions will still apply during the pandemic period (including number restrictions) and we ask that you read the restrictions carefully before making your booking. These are found at the top of this page, and are subject to change as Government guidelines change. Please contact us to discuss ceremony availability.


Notices of marriage and civil partnerships  

Notice of marriage and civil partnership appointments will be prioritised for those that are time critical for ceremonies due to take place in the next 2 months.

Please note that any change to your ceremony date may mean that you will need to give fresh notices which carry a statutory fee and any immigration referral fees will also need to be paid again.


Registrations  

Registering a birth

Birth appointments are only released in small batches, depending on staffing. The priority during the pandemic is death registrations which legally must be registered within 5 days. If the deaths continue to be high there will be no birth appointments. You may have tried to book an appointment and the message reads “Due to high demand, there are currently no appointments available. please try again later". Appointments will be released slowly and we thank you for your patience. While you are waiting to register your baby, you can still claim child benefit.

Registering a death

All death registrations are completed over the telephone during the pandemic between a registrar and a qualified informant. The death must be registered within 5 days (unless the coroner is involved) and the registrar cannot delay the registration to another time. The registrar may call you at any time in the day, Monday – Sunday. To arrange a telephone appointment please complete this form and email to registrars@southampton.gov.uk.

Please remember to ensure the hospital or GP surgery has electronically sent us the medical certificate or the Coroner has confirmed they have sent us the documentation. Please ensure that a valid contact number is included. A registrar will call you and complete the registration.


Certificates  

The £11 standard certificate ordering service is the only service currently available. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

We are processing certificates as quickly as possible, depending on the staff we have available each day and the other demands to our service. Some days there may not be any staff on certificate processing at all, and your order could be delayed. Certificate delivery times are taking much longer than usual due to the pressures that the Royal Mail are experiencing. You must allow extra time for your certificate to arrive before you try to contact us. For up-to-date information visit the Royal Mail website.

For UK addresses - If your certificate has not arrived after 1 month please contact us. We are unable to treat your certificate as “lost” until 1 month has passed

For addresses abroad – If your certificate has not arrived after 6 weeks please contact us. We are unable to treat your certificate as “lost” until 6 weeks have passed.


Citizenship ceremonies  

We are now beginning the recovery of citizenship ceremonies and will contact all new British citizens as soon as their naturalisation certificate arrives at Southampton Register Office. If you have received your letter from the Home Office please contact us:

Get in touch

We will be pleased to check if your naturalisation certificate has arrived. We cannot book your ceremony for you until we have received your naturalisation certificate.

Please note that if we are allowed to proceed with citizenship ceremonies under the latest lockdown we will only be offering a simple ceremony to fall in line with our health and safety obligations. However, we are currently offering virtual citizenship ceremonies subject to staff availability. If are interested in a virtual ceremony please contact us.


European Settlement verification and scanning service  

This service is temporarily suspended. Please see full guidance on how to scan your documents from home using your own device.


Contacting us  

If you have any queries please use our contact form. Please do not telephone the office as we need to keep the telephone lines clear for death registrations enquiries.