1. Introduction

We produce marriage statistics that are published under the National Statistics logo, the designation guaranteeing that those outputs have been produced to high professional standards set out in the Code of Practice for Official Statistics and have been produced free from any political interference.

Marriage statistics are derived from information recorded when marriages are registered as part of civil registration, a legal requirement. Final annual marriage statistics are currently published just over 2 years after the end of the reference year. Prior to 2016, provisional marriage statistics were published just over a year after the end of the reference period providing summary statistics for the latest year. The publication of provisional marriage statistics has been discontinued to ensure value for money across our outputs. Final marriage statistics are required to be laid before Parliament.

Published tables provide statistics on marriages that took place in England and Wales. Published tables provide an extensive time series for comparison. Explorable datasets are also released, which can be used to obtain more detailed statistics for a particular calendar year. In October 2013, a consultation was undertaken: Understanding user requirements for marriage, divorce and civil partnership statistics given the introduction of same sex marriage. The response to this consultation published in April 2014 details changes that have since been made to our annual marriages publication.

Prior to the 2012 data year, final marriage statistics for the previous year were published as a set of packages:

The Marriages Quality and Methodology Information document contains important information on:

  • the strengths and limitations of the data
  • the quality of the output: including the accuracy of the data and how it compares with related data
  • uses and users
  • how the output was created

Comparable statistics for England and Wales for earlier years are published as follows:

  • 1995 to 2007 in Marriage, Divorce and Adoption Statistics (series FM2)
  • 1974 to 1994 in the annual reference volume Marriage and Divorce Statistics (series FM2)
  • prior to 1974 in the Registrar General’s Statistical Review of England and Wales

Historical statistics for England and Wales have also been published in the volume Marriage and Divorce Statistics (Series FM2 No. 16) published in 1990. This covers the period 1837 to 1983 for marriages, dating from the year when the present national system of registration was first introduced in England and Wales. The majority of these figures are now included in published tables.

Annual marriage figures for the UK and constituent countries can be found in the Population and Health Reference Tables. National Records of Scotland provides marriage statistics for Scotland. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency provides marriage statistics for Northern Ireland.

Back to table of contents

2. Terminology

Legally, a marriage is solemnised in either a civil or religious ceremony. Before the marriage, certain legal preliminaries must have taken place, the form of which varies; these are discussed in Section 3. The “manner of solemnisation” will determine who it is that completes the entry in the marriage register and, although the same information is collected for all marriages, the precise questions asked may differ.

The term “single” describes men and women who have never been married or formed a civil partnership. From 5 December 2005, the terms “bachelor” and “spinster” have no longer been used in marriage registers with “single” being used instead.

Back to table of contents

3. Legislation and procedures

3.1 Legislation

The existing provisions for the preliminaries to, and registration of, marriages and civil partnerships and the processing, reporting and analysis of relevant data appear in different legislation. This reflects the distinct and separate roles of the Registrar General for England and Wales and the UK Statistics Authority (the preferred name for the Statistics Board).

The Registrar General is guided by the following legislation.

The Marriage Acts

Marriage legislation is complex and is governed by the Ecclesiastical Licences Act 1533, the Marriage Act 1949 and the Marriage (Registrar General’s Licence) Act 1970. There are 2 major amendments to the Marriage Act 1949 that widened the places in which marriages may be solemnised.

The Marriage Act 1983 (with effect from 1 May 1984) enabled marriages of house-bound and detained persons to be solemnised at the place where they reside.

The Marriage Act 1994 (with effect from 1 April 1995) made provision for civil marriages to be solemnised in any register office and in approved premises. Local authorities have responsibility for approving applications for premises to be used for solemnising civil marriages and for ensuring that the premises meet strict conditions. Premises which have been approved include hotels, stately homes and historic houses. There is also an increasing tendency for local authorities to make some accommodation in register offices available for civil marriage. The effect of the Act is discussed in detail in the Population Trends article Marriages in Approved Premises in England and Wales: the impact of the 1994 Marriage Act (Haskey, J. 1998).

Although the Marriage Act 1994 allowed civil marriages to be solemnised in any registration district, it did not affect the restrictions on religious marriages in registered buildings. They could only take place outside the registration district(s) of residence if the registered building was the usual place of worship of either or both parties, or it was the nearest registered building to the registration district(s) of residence in which they could marry, according to their desired rites and ceremonies.

Changes to the law (Church of England Marriage Measure 2008 and the Marriage (Wales) Act 2010) made it easier for couples to marry in a Church of England church, even if they don’t live in the parish. Previously, couples wanting to marry outside their parish had to obtain a special licence or attend the church regularly for 6 months and go on the electoral roll. Since 1 October 2008, couples can marry in a church where they have a family or other special connection, even if they don’t live there. A similar change came into force for the Church in Wales from 18 March 2010.

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 makes provision for the marriage of same sex couples in England and Wales, either in a civil ceremony (in a register office or approved premises, for example, hotel) or on religious premises (provided that the religious organisation concerned is in agreement with the marriage being solemnised through a religious ceremony).The first same sex weddings took place from Saturday 29 March 2014. Where either of the couple was seriously ill and not expected to recover, or was being deployed overseas in the armed forces to a war zone, marriages were allowed to take place without the 15 day notice period. Such marriages of same sex couples were therefore possible from Thursday 13 March 2014. Civil partners have been able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage, if they so desired, from 10 December 2014.

The Immigration Acts

The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, which came into effect on 1 January 2001, amended the Marriage Act 1949. It required that notice of marriage be given in person by each of the parties to the marriage, where formerly it had been possible for notice of marriage to be given by 1 person on behalf of both. It abolished marriage by superintendent registrar’s certificate with licence and reduced the waiting period for marriage on the authority of superintendent registrar's certificate (without licence) required to be obtained by both parties to 15 days (instead of 21 days). Finally, it amended the Marriage Act 1949 to give registration officers the power to require documentary evidence of name, age, marital status and nationality from the person giving notice. Additionally, Section 24 of the Act placed a statutory duty on registration officers to report to the Home Office any marriage they suspect is being contracted for the purpose of evading immigration control.

Prior to 9 May 2011, under the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc) Act 2004, any migrant who was already in the UK and subject to immigration control was required to apply for a Certificate of Approval before they could get married or register a civil partnership in England and Wales (unless they were getting married within the Anglican Church). The Certificate of Approval scheme was introduced in February 2005 as part of a package of measures designed to deter persons from entering into marriages of convenience (“sham marriages”) for immigration purposes. The scheme required both parties to satisfy certain qualifying conditions and notice of the proposed marriage could only be given at a designated register office, which both parties had to attend together. The Certificate of Approval scheme was removed on 9 May 2011. Entering into a sham marriage does not entitle migrants to any right to remain in the UK. The Home Office continues to investigate suspected abuse with assistance from registrars and members of the clergy, disrupting marriages where possible, before they take place. From April 2011, where either of the people marrying is a non-EEA national, the Church’s guidance states that the clergy should not offer to publish banns and should instead direct the couple to apply for a Common Licence.

The UK Statistics Authority is guided by the following 2 Acts.

Registration Service Act 1953: Section 19 requires the UK Statistics Authority to produce annual abstracts of the number of live births, stillbirths, deaths, and marriages.

Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007: (the 2007 Act) transferred some of the statistical functions of the Registrar General, including the production of an annual abstract, to the UK Statistics Authority and we became the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority. The 2007 Act also provides the Registrar General with a power to disclose any information entered in a marriage register or recorded about a civil partnership to the UK Statistics Authority for statistical purposes. It also enables the UK Statistics Authority to produce and publish statistics relating to any matter regarding the UK.

The coming into force of the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and accompanying machinery of government changes on 1 April 2008, ended the arrangement whereby the National Statistician was concurrently the Registrar General for England and Wales. At the same time, the General Register Office (GRO) ceased being part of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and was moved to the Identity and Passport Service, which was renamed Her Majesty's Passport Office on 13 May 2013. The Statistics Board is the legal successor to ONS and undertakes the former statistical functions of the Registrar General. The responsibility for the production of marriage and civil partnership statistics is now a function of the UK Statistics Authority.

3.2 Preliminary investigations

In satisfying themselves that the parties are free to marry, superintendent registrars may need to examine documents which support the parties’ declared legal marital status. If a party states they are divorced, the registrar may wish to examine the decree that made the dissolution of the previous marriage absolute; if a party says their previous spouse has died, the registrar may want to see the death certificate or some other satisfactory evidence of death.

Persons under the age of 18 years who have not previously married must have the consent of each parent (if any) who has parental responsibility, or guardian (if any) or, if there is a custody, residence or care order in force, of the persons named in the order, before they may be married. In certain circumstances the necessity of obtaining consent can be dispensed with by the courts, the Registrar General, or the superintendent registrar. A marriage contracted in England and Wales between persons either of whom is under the age of 16 years is void. A person who has a lawful wife or husband living cannot contract a marriage. A marriage is void if it is contracted between parties who are related to each other within a defined list of relationships – for example, a brother may not marry his sister.

3.3 Preliminaries to marriage

In England and Wales, a marriage may take place in a church of the Church of England or the Church in Wales after ecclesiastical preliminaries or after certain civil preliminaries. Any other marriage must be preceded by civil preliminaries. For a marriage according to the rites of the Church of England or Church in Wales, the alternatives are:

  • the publication of banns
  • the issue of a common licence
  • the issue of a special licence granted by, or on behalf of, the Archbishop of Canterbury
  • the issue of a superintendent registrar’s certificate

Banns must be published on 3 Sundays preceding the solemnisation of the marriage. A common licence obviates the need for publication of banns and enables couples to marry without delay. It is granted by the Church of England or Church in Wales authorities. A special licence is issued only in exceptional circumstances. It enables a marriage to be solemnised according to the rites of the Church of England or Church in Wales at any time and place, for example, in an unlicensed chapel or hospital.

For marriage by superintendent registrar’s certificate, one or both of the parties to the marriage must have lived in a registration district in England and Wales for at least 7 days immediately before giving notice of intention to marry. Each party must give his or her own notice, in person, to the superintendent registrar of the registration district in which he or she resides. After giving notice of intention to marry there is a further 15 clear-day waiting period before the marriage may take place. The marriage may take place up to 1 year from the date that notice was given. Under the provisions of the Marriage (Registrar General’s Licence) Act 1970, where 1 of the parties is seriously ill, not expected to recover and cannot be moved to a place of marriage, the Registrar General can issue a licence for a marriage to take place anywhere without delay. Only 1 notice of marriage is given and the licence is valid for a month.

3.4 Procedures

There are 2 distinct procedures for marriage in England and Wales. Marriage may be solemnised according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England or the Church in Wales, and in all but a few cases this will be after ecclesiastical preliminaries. All other marriages must be preceded by civil preliminaries. All religious marriages with the exception of marriages solemnised according to the rites of the Society of Friends, those professing the Jewish religion, marriages of the housebound and detained and marriages by Registrar General’s licence must be solemnised in buildings registered for the purpose.

3.5 Registration

In most cases the marriage is registered immediately after the ceremony. In churches and other buildings of the Church of England or the Church in Wales, it will be registered by a member of the clergy in duplicate registers. In registered buildings, the marriage is registered, either by a registrar in their own register, or by an authorised person in duplicate registers supplied for the registered building. An authorised person is not necessarily the person who conducts the ceremony. In register offices and approved premises, the marriage is solemnised in the presence of a superintendent registrar and a registrar who carries out the registration. Jewish marriages are registered by the secretary (for marriages) of the man’s synagogue. Marriages according to the rites and ceremonies of the Society of Friends are registered by the registering officer of the monthly meeting in which the marriage took place. In both these cases, marriages should be registered as soon as possible after the solemnisation.

Religious marriages other than those solemnised according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, Church in Wales, Society of Friends or of the Jewish religion must usually take place in a building registered for marriages. For a building to be certified as a place of worship, the principal use of the building must be for religious worship.

Back to table of contents

4. Information collected

Marriage statistics are based on details collected in the marriage register. The majority of the details are supplied by the bride and bridegroom to the person registering the marriage. This person may be a member of the clergy, an authorised person for a religious marriage, a secretary of a synagogue, a registering officer of the Society of Friends or a civil registrar.

Prior to 2011, marriage entries were collated by registrars in the registration district where they occurred. The entries were then sent to the General Register Office (GRO) for the compilation of central records and indexes. Certified copies of each completed marriage entry appearing in the marriage register (both civil and religious) were also sent to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by GRO on a regular basis. Once received, the forms were entered onto ONS systems and verified. Examples of marriage forms used for civil and religious marriages are reproduced in Appendix A.

From January 2011, all marriages registered within England and Wales have been recorded on the web-based Registration Online system (RON). Civil marriages are entered onto RON by registrars while religious marriages are collated by registrars before being sent to GRO where they are entered onto RON. Marriage data recorded on RON is then passed onto ONS for statistical purposes. We perform regular receipt and diagnostic tests resulting in contact with GRO to resolve any issues identified.

The data analysed in the tables are summarised in this section.

Supplied by the bride and bridegroom:

  • marital status (prior to marriage) is recorded as a condition in the marriage entry
  • age at marriage (in years) is provided by both bride and bridegroom

Details of usual residence of bride and bridegroom at the time of marriage are recorded in the marriage entry, but are not recorded electronically. The information is not used for geographic analyses of marriages because the addresses given are not necessarily the same as the long-term addresses before marriage, or the same as the residence of the couple after marriage.

Details of names and of occupation of bride and bridegroom, of father’s name, and of father’s occupation are also recorded in the marriage entry, but not all are recorded electronically and therefore they are not tabulated.

Supplied by the person(s) solemnising and registering the marriage:

  • date of marriage
  • place of marriage
  • area of occurrence
  • the person(s) by, or before, whom the marriage was solemnised and registered
  • preliminaries to marriage

The place of marriage, when the bride or groom is seriously ill and not expected to recover or is housebound, could be the name of a hospital or hospice, or possibly a private address. With a detained person the exact venue is shown but this would be an alternative address that would not indicate a prison or psychiatric hospital.

The area of occurrence is the registration district in which the marriage was solemnised, although there may be rare exceptions. This may not be the district in which the couple reside, either before or after marriage. All geographic analyses of marriages are based on area of occurrence, not area of residence.

Derived from the marriage entry:

  • type of religious ceremony (denomination) – derived from the place of marriage, since 2011 this has been received on the marriage record
  • civil marriages, location type is classified in one of the following categories:
    • in a register office
    • registrar registering a civil marriage in a building other than a register office or approved premises, but not in a registered building
    • in “approved premises”

Up until 2011, an indicator was used to show whether or not the bride and bridegroom gave the same address at marriage. From 2011, it is only possible to provide estimates of the percentage of couples cohabiting prior to marriage. This is because the indicator is created using both the bride and bridegroom’s postcodes. Where the postcodes match, it is assumed that the bride and bridegroom were cohabiting prior to marriage. Around 10% of marriage records are missing either one or both postcodes; these records are therefore excluded when producing the cohabitation estimate. Research has shown that this is a reasonably good proxy variable for pre-marital cohabitation.

From 2011, we have used a lookup function to code records where previous marital status or denomination recorded on the marriage entry is equal to “other” when received, but text fields providing further information show that the previous marital status or denomination should actually be coded to one of the existing values available.

In recent years it has become increasingly popular for couples to choose to get married abroad. There is no legal requirement for those marriages of persons usually resident in England and Wales, but solemnised outside England and Wales, to be registered by the GRO. However, some overseas marriages are recorded with the overseas section at GRO. These fall into 2 main types: marriages of armed forces personnel and marriages that take place in certain UK consuls (only 15 out of 121 consuls have this facility).

Estimates of the number of UK residents marrying abroad and the number of overseas residents marrying in the UK are possible using data from the International Passenger Survey (IPS). These estimates are based on visits of less than 12 months and are derived from interviews conducted at the end of visits, where reason for visit was marriage. These estimates are based on a very small number of IPS interviews and so the standard errors on the estimates are correspondingly high. Further information on Marriages taking place abroad can be found in the Population Trends Report: Marriages abroad, 2002-2007.

In 2014, an estimated 73,000 UK residents went abroad to get married and an estimated 13,000 overseas residents married in the UK. This represents a decrease compared with 2013 when 95,000 UK residents were estimated to have married abroad, but an increase from 9,000 overseas residents estimated to have married in the UK in 2013. The Population Trends Report: Marriages abroad, 2002-2007 suggests that the vast majority (around 90%) of the marriages to UK residents estimated as taking place abroad are to residents of England and Wales, while only about half of people coming to the UK to get married do so in England and Wales.

Under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, where a forced marriage has or is about to take place, courts will be able to make orders to protect the victim or the potential victim and help remove them from that situation. We do not produce any statistics on forced marriages.

Back to table of contents

5. Accuracy of information

The information in the marriage entry is largely supplied by the persons being married, who are responsible for its accuracy. Supplying false information may render them liable to prosecution for perjury hence the information supplied is generally believed to be correct. There is no routine statistical verification of the data, although editing checks are carried out to detect clerical, coding and keying errors. However, certain corrections subsequently come to light and are notified and recorded by the General Register Office (GRO) at Southport.

Each year a certain number of marriages are not included in the final figures because the entries have been received later than the date on which the annual dataset is taken. Table 1 shows the differences between the number of marriages stored on our database and the number included in final marriages publications each year. The differences reflect the marriage records that we receive after the date that the annual dataset is taken. Although this means some marriages are not included in the statistics, it is a compromise that must be taken in order to publish timely data.

Back to table of contents

6. Missing information and corrections

Prior to the 2011 data year, if the age of either of the parties was not given, a value for that age based upon the other party’s stated age was assigned, taking into account the combined marital condition of the parties. Where the ages of both parties were missing, the values assigned were those of the previous couple having the same pair of marital statuses. Few records required such imputation each year. Any other relevant item of information that appeared to be omitted was queried and corrected where appropriate.

From the 2011 data year onwards, missing values for age at marriage have not been assigned to a valid age. The small numbers of missing values over recent years mean that imputation adds no significant value to the dataset. Some records also contain missing values for area of occurrence. Published tables now include information on the small number of records for which information is missing.

Prior to 2014 data year, a very small number of records were missing information on the previous marital status of the bride and/or the groom. In these cases it was assumed that these persons were single (never married). From 2014 data year onwards, published tables now include information on the small number of records for which information on previous marital status is missing.

Back to table of contents

7. General notes

7.1 Coverage

The marriages analysed are those that took place in England and Wales for each calendar year. Late notifications of marriage entries are not included in annual tables, but are retained on our database (see Table 1).

7.2 Base populations

The population figures used to calculate rates are Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements for England and Wales.

Following a consultation surrounding the population estimates by marital status in summer 2014, there was a change in the methodology used to produce the estimates for England and Wales, for the years 2002 onwards. The new method involves using the marital status distribution from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and applying this to published population estimates (by 5-year age group and sex) for England and Wales. Annex B in the consultation response document provides more information on the new methodology. Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements for the years 2002 to 2010 were revised and published in July 2015 alongside new population estimates by marital status for the years 2011 to 2014. As a result of the change in the methodology, revised marriage rates for England and Wales back to 2002 were published in March 2016 to reflect the revised population estimates by marital status.

The population estimates used are the most up-to-date when rates are published. The population estimates used to calculate rates are detailed alongside the published tables. The Quality and Methodology Information report provides more detail on the new methodology.

7.3 Areal analyses

Marriage entries are collated by registrars in the registration district where they occur. This means that area analysis is only possible by registration district or by aggregation of the data from these districts. Marriage statistics are published by local authority of occurrence. Boundary changes mean that figures are not always comparable over time.

7.4 Marriage statistics by denomination

Religious marriages other than those solemnised according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England, Church in Wales, Society of Friends or of the Jewish religion must usually take place in a building registered for marriages. All buildings registered for marriage must also be certified as a place of worship. Marriage statistics by religion need to be interpreted with caution as some religious marriage ceremonies (for example, Muslim and Sikh) can take place at unregistered premises. To be registered as a legal marriage the couple have a further marriage ceremony in a registry office or approved building. Such weddings are coded as civil marriages because only the civil marriage certificate is received.

Given that marriage statistics by religion can be misinterpreted for some religions, we publish religious marriages to opposite sex couples under the following groupings:

  • Church of England and Church in Wales
  • Catholic
  • Other Christian denominations (includes Methodist, Calvinistic Methodist, United Reformed Church, Congregationalist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Society of Friends (Quakers), Salvation Army, Brethren, Mormon, Unitarian and Jehovah’s Witnesses)
  • Other (includes Jewish, Muslim and Sikh)

Only a very small number of same sex couples marry in religious ceremonies; the number of religious ceremonies is published, however, information on the denomination is not published due to the small number.

7.5 Rates

Marriage rates have been calculated using the most appropriate estimates of the population. Tables that include rates provide information on the specific denominators used to calculate each rate.

7.6 Cohort analysis – method to produce cohort analyses

Method to produce Table 12: Proportions of men and women who had ever married by certain ages

Using males as an example to illustrate how this table was created, the numbers of men of each age first marrying each year are combined with population estimates of single males by age in order to estimate the proportion of men born in each year who have ever had a first marriage by each birthday. A standard life table methodology is used to calculate probabilities of first marriage that are then applied to a hypothetical stationary population. This method enables the proportion ever married by each exact birthday to be estimated.

By taking into account the latest population estimates of single men rather than simply the number of men born in a particular year, it also takes into account changes in the sizes of cohorts since birth due to death and migration and excludes men who have been previously married. The long time series of marriage statistics enables cohorts of people born as long ago as the first part of the 20th century to be analysed. Population estimates by marital status and living arrangements are available on our website. The population estimates are the most up-to-date when the tables are published.

For 2014 marriages data onwards, first marriages include people entering into a marriage with either an opposite sex or a same sex partner. Same sex couples converting their civil partnership into a marriage will be included with people forming their first marriage because previous marital status is unknown; therefore within this table we are assuming a previous marital status (before civil partnership) of single.

Method to produce Table 13: Proportions of men and women who had ever remarried by certain ages

The method to produce this table is similar to that used to produce Table 12, with 2 differences:

  • the total male or female population, rather than the single male or female population, is used
  • this is combined with the number of males or females remarrying, rather than marrying for the first time, each year; for 2014 marriages data onwards, remarriages include people entering into a marriage with either an opposite sex or a same sex partner

Assumptions in the cohort analyses

The proportions in these tables are based on the assumption that couples living in England or Wales marry in England or Wales. So it does not take into account couples who marry abroad (or in Scotland or Northern Ireland), or couples who live abroad (or in Scotland or Northern Ireland) who marry in England or Wales. Both of these factors will affect the true proportions. Previous research has shown that the former category is likely to be larger than the latter, which means that the proportions of men and women married by certain ages shown here could be an underestimation of the true proportions.

If previous marital status information is not available on any marriage records, a previous marital status of single is assumed for these tables only.

Back to table of contents

9. Further information

Special extracts and tabulations of marriage data for England and Wales are available to order (subject to legal frameworks, disclosure control, resources and the ONS charging policy, where appropriate). Enquiries should be made to Vital Statistics Outputs Branch (vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk or telephone: +44 (0)1329 444110). User requested data will be published onto our website.

We welcome feedback on the content, format and relevance of this release. Please send feedback to the email address in the previous paragraph.

Back to table of contents

10. Glossary

Approved premises

Under the Marriage Act 1994, civil marriages can be solemnised in approved premises (other than register offices). The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Approved Premises) Regulations 2005 allow for premises to be approved by a local authority for the solemnisation of marriages and the formation of civil partnerships. These include hotels, stately homes and historic buildings.

Authorised person

An authorised person is appointed by the Registrar General to register marriages solemnised in a named registered building in a duplicate register.

Banns

A marriage in the Church of England or Church in Wales requires the publication of banns of marriage on 3 Sundays preceding it. Banns ask for public confirmation that the parties involved are legally eligible for marriage.

Civil marriage

A civil marriage can take place at a register office or other buildings approved for civil marriage. The bride and bridegroom must personally give a formal notice of their intention to marry to the superintendent registrar of the district(s) where they have resided for the previous 7 days.

General Register Office (GRO)

The GRO (part of the Identity and Passport Service since 1 April 2008 and renamed Her Majesty's Passport Office on 13 May 2013) is responsible for ensuring the registration of all births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships that have occurred in England and Wales and for maintaining a central archive.

ONS

Since 1 April 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the executive office of the UK Statistics Authority.

OPCS

Office of Population Censuses and Surveys – joined with Central Statistical Office in 1996 to become ONS.

Population Trends

A discontinued quarterly ONS publication, which covered population and demographic information, including articles and reports on marriages, divorces and adoptions.

Registrar

Local authority employee responsible for the registration of births, deaths, marriages and civil partnerships.

Registrar General

Statutory appointment with responsibility for the administration of the Registration Acts in England and Wales and other related functions as specified by the relevant legislation.

Registration officer

Generic term for registrar, superintendent registrar and additional registrars.

Registration scheme

Organises the boundaries and specifies the name of registration districts within local authorities.

Religious marriage

Religious marriages can take place in Church of England or Church in Wales premises, as well as in other buildings registered for marriage that are certified as a place of worship. Religious marriages also include marriages solemnised according to the rites of the Society of Friends and those professing the Jewish religion.

RON

Registration Online. A web-based system which enables registrars to record births, stillbirths, deaths, civil partnerships and marriages online. Marriages have been recorded on RON since January 2011.

Single men or women

Persons who have never been married or formed a civil partnership.

Solemnised marriage

A marriage legally occurs upon solemnisation at a ceremony, either religious or civil and must follow the completion of legal preliminaries.

Superintendent registrar

Local authority employee with responsibilities relating to marriage and other registration functions, as specified in the relevant legislation.

UK Code of Practice for Official Statistics

The principles and practices to be followed and upheld by those involved in producing official statistics.

VSOB

Vital Statistics Outputs Branch within ONS.

Back to table of contents

Contact details for this Methodology

Nicola Haines
vsob@ons.gsi.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1329 444110