Getting Married

 

Couple embracing, standing on icy ground.
Polar field guides Julie Baum and Tom Sylvester – the first to marry in the British Antarctic Territory Credit: British Antarctic Survey

You can get married in the British Antarctic Territory (BAT).  The law on who can get married in the BAT mirrors that of England and Wales, meaning all couples, including same sex couples, can apply for a marriage licence.

If you’re considering getting married in Antarctica, here’s what you need to know:

Marriage validity

As a UK Overseas Territory, but under the Antarctic Treaty, the UK does not seek to assert its sovereignty against other Treaty Parties. Consequently, if you are British Citizens, any wedding in the British Antarctic Territory will be valid within the UK.  However, foreign nationals will need to consult their national authorities about making a formal validation/registration of the marriage (as would be the case when marrying anywhere else overseas).

Arrange through a recognised tour operator

We would encourage any couples wishing to travel and marry in Antarctica to do so through an International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) operator and to explore what packages they have available. However, please be aware that not every tourist company operating in Antarctica will offer, or support, our marriages. Check with your tour operator before making any firm plans.

Apply for a wedding licence

If your tour operator is happy to facilitate your wedding, and you wish to get married in the British Antarctic Territory, you will need to apply for a wedding licence from the British Antarctic Territory Administration. Complete and return the Marriage License Application Form to: polarregions@fco.gov.uk.

You must apply at least 3 months before your intended marriage date and pay a £500 administration fee.

Solemnising and registering the marriage

The marriage must be solemnised by a Marriage Officer registered by us. Your tour operator will be able to advise whether they have appointed Marriage Officers available on your tour. After the marriage ceremony, the Marriage Officer will sign the marriage certificate and we will register the marriage.

Information for Tour Operators: become a Marriage Officer

We can appoint Marriage Officers. These Officers are then able to solemnize marriages, where couples have obtained permission to marry within the Territory.

You can apply for appointment as a Marriage Officer. Complete and return the Marriage Officer Application Form to polarregions@fco.gov.uk. You must pay a £1,000 administration fee.

More detailed guidance on the role and responsibilities of a Marriage Officer will be provided at the time of appointment.