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Births, deaths and ceremonies

Last Updated 9:06am, 6 January 2021


Introduction

Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

Ceremonies

National lockdown from 5 January 2021

Government guidance now states that ceremonies can only go ahead if there are exceptional circumstances so unfortunately, ceremonies booked to take place during this lockdown will need to be postponed to a future date.

Please contact us on 0345 155 1002 or email ceremonies-mailbox@devon.gov.uk. Anyone with an existing booking will also be sent an email with this advice.

If you feel that you do have exceptional circumstances you can email confidentially to trish.harrogate@devon.gov.uk and your case will be considered and responded to as soon as possible.

Any ceremonies that are able to take place will be subject to the following restrictions:

  • On arrival at a registration office, everyone must wait outside until invited in by a member of staff. Social distancing should be adhered to.
  • All attendees must sanitise their hands on entering the building and follow the instructions of the registrar.
  • All guests and the photographer must wear face coverings.
  • Anyone showing signs of COVID-19 symptoms should not attend and will not be allowed into the building – if this is one of the couple the ceremony should be rescheduled.
  • A pen should be supplied by the couple to sign the register (black gel or biro) to reduce potential cross-contamination.
  • Rings should be held by the couple (rather than a third party, for example, the best man or registrar) and these can be exchanged as normal.
  • No readings will be permitted during the ceremony. No live music.
  • Guests and the couple must leave the building immediately after the ceremony.

Please remember that you must give your notice of marriage/civil partnership at least 28 days before the date of your ceremony in your local registration district.

Your notice of marriage/civil partnership

Appointments to give notice for future marriages and civil partnerships can continue to be made and you should do so by phoning 0345 155 1002.

Please do not attend an appointment if you are showing any symptoms of coronavirus. Instead, call 0345 155 1002 to rebook your appointment.

If you choose to book an appointment please consider the fact that if the venue stated in the notice does not reopen in the future and your marriage or civil partnership cannot take place at that venue, new notices would be required.

Remember, your notice of marriage/civil partnership must be given at least 28 days prior to the ceremony date (70 days for non European Economic Area (EEA) nationals) and is valid for 12 months.

The following criteria will apply at the appointment:

  • You should arrive at the office at the time of the appointment and wait outside – the registrar will let you into the office at your allotted time.
  • You should bring all paperwork with you, along with a black ballpoint pen.
  • Face coverings must be worn.
  • Hand sanitising will be required once entering the building.
  • If you are late you may be turned away and asked to book another appointment.
  • All social distancing guidance must be followed.

If possible, please do not bring children to the appointment.

Religious ceremonies

Read the latest guidance for churches on the Church of England website.

Citizenship ceremonies

From 5 January 2021, British citizenship ceremonies will take place virtually. If you have a face-to-face ceremony booked, the Registration Service will contact you to arrange a virtual one.

Where certificates have already been received the registration service will contact those applicants to make an appointment.

Some applicants may have received a letter from UKVI to say their application has been successful but those certificates have not yet been received. The service will be in touch as soon as they do receive these.

Trading Standards advice on wedding cancellation

Devon Somerset and Torbay Trading Standards have written advice for people whose weddings have been cancelled due to coronavirus.

Birth registrations

Birth registration appointments are now available again. Please book an appointment online, or call 0345 155 1002.

The following criteria will apply at the appointment:

  • Face coverings must be worn in registration offices.
  • If you are married, only one of you needs to attend the appointment.

How to claim Child Benefit

Due to these exceptional circumstances, you will now be able to make a claim for Child Benefit or Universal Credit prior to a birth being registered.

First time parents should complete the Child Benefit Claim form CH2 and send it to the Child Benefit Office – add a note to your claim to explain that you have not been able to register the birth due to COVID-19.

If you already claim Child Benefit, they can complete the form or add your newborn’s details over the phone on 0300 200 3100. You will need your National Insurance number or Child Benefit number.

Child Benefit claims can be backdated by up to 3 months.

European settlement scheme

A face-to-face appointment is required therefore these appointments cannot take place at the present time.

Please consult the government website which guides you through downloading an app on to your smartphone to enable you to process the application at home.

Death registrations

Death registrations will now be conducted by telephone. Please do not call to book an appointment.

The Registration Service will be provided with next of kin details as well as the medical certificate of cause of death by the doctor/hospital involved and will then contact the person registering the death.

The Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the ‘green form’) which gives permission for burial or an application for cremation will be forwarded directly to the relevant place.

You will also be able to order and pay for death certificates over the phone.

For more information, view the latest government guidance on what to do if someone dies during the COVID-19 pandemic.


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