Marriage Certificate Translations for UK Divorce Proceedings

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Originally published on 15th August 2019 at 10:00 AM

A divorce can be a confusing and stressful time. It might not be clear how to start off the divorce process, what you need to do, who you need to see, or even how much it will cost. If you are getting divorced in the UK and have a non-English marriage certificate, then you may not be sure if this will be accepted, or how to get it translated, so that it will be accepted.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • A brief overview of the divorce process and required documents
  • Why you need a translation of your marriage certificate for a divorce in the UK
  • The legal rules governing marriage certificate translations
  • Translations of marriage certificates explained
  • How to get your marriage certificate translated

The high-level divorce process and documents required

A divorce is the legal procedure to end a marriage. This can be a same-sex marriage, or a heterosexual marriage. Married couples can get a divorce after 12 months has passed from their wedding day. To file for a divorce, you need to:

  • File a divorce petition: this requests permission to divorce from the court
  • Have your partner complete an Acknowledgement of Service: this is a form sent to your spouse
  • Apply for a Decree Nisi: this states that there isn’t a reason for you to not be granted a divorce
  • Apply for a Decree Absolute: after the Court approves the Decree Nisi, you must wait for 6 weeks to apply for a Decree Absolute. This finalises the divorce.

Documents required to apply for a divorce

To apply for a divorce, you will need:

  • The full name and address of your spouse: this is key as the court will need to send your spouse a copy of the divorce petition.
  • Your original marriage certificate
  • Proof of your name change, if it has changed since you got married e.g. deed poll or your marriage certificate

Also, if your marriage certificate is in a language that isn’t English, then you’ll need a certified translation of your marriage certificate. This is a key part of the divorce proceedings with a non-English marriage certificate, which we will elaborate on further.

Why you need to translate your marriage certificate

You need to translate your marriage certificate for a divorce if:

  • The marriage certificate is not in English or Welsh
  • You were married outside the UK

Some European marriage certificates already have English translations on them, if issued under the Vienna Convention 1976. These marriage certificate translations can be found on the foot of the certificate.  

Legal Rules Governing Marriage Certificate Translations

There are strict legal rules which govern the translation of marriage certificates, as stipulated by the UK Ministry of Justice. These rules state:

where the certificate, document or certified copy is not in English (or, where the court is in Wales, in Welsh), a translation of that document certified by a notary public or authenticated by a statement of truth.

Marriage Certificate Translations in the UK

To translate a marriage certificate as per the legal requirements in the UK, you will need a certified translation. A certified translation is a translation that has been signed, stamped and dated by a translator, or a translation company. Their stamp and signature confirm that the translation is a true and accurate representation of the original document. The translation can then be used by official institutions.

However, when obtaining a translation of a marriage certificate for a divorce in the UK, there are strict requirements in addition to simply having a certified translation. These are the following requirements for a legally translated marriage certificate in the UK, to be used for divorce proceedings:  

Standard Certification

This is a certified translation where the translator will confirm that the translation of the document is authentic. All translated pages will have the stamp and signature of the translator. This allows the marriage certificate translation to be accepted in courts, as long as it is accompanied by the Statement of Truth or the signature of the Notary Public.

Statement of Truth

This is usually needed with marriage certificate translations for divorce proceedings. It is a confirmation that the translator who has signed it believes that the content is a true reflection of the original document. Also, the Statement of Truth will also probably include translator’s qualifications, experience and contact details, such as address and phone number. This is to show that they are appropriately qualified to translate the marriage certificate.


This process requires a translator to meet with a Notary Public, who will confirm under oath that that they believe the statements of the translator (above) are true. It should be noted that a Notary does not certify the translation. They certify the signature of the translator, who in turn certifies the translation. It isn’t a requirement to use a Notary Public to certify the marriage certificate, as a Statement of Truth is sufficient.

How to get your marriage certificate translated

There are many different companies online who offer translation services. However, if you’re looking to have your marriage certificate translated by experts, who have a thorough understanding of the legal requirements for translations for divorce proceeding in the UK, then contact Translayte. Their certified translations are accepted by UK Courts and Tribunals.

What Next?

Getting a divorce can seem like a daunting and confusing process, and the last thing you’ll want is further stress trying to understand the complex procedures in place for getting a divorce and having documents translated. This article has clearly and simply outlined the stages of applying for a divorce in the UK, as well as the legal requirements for translation if your marriage certificate is in a language other than English or Welsh.

If you have any questions about translating your marriage certificate and wish to consult experts, please contact Translayte for further information.

About the author

Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the legalities around divorce and separation.


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