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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Register Office services

Due to government guidance on social distancing and the threat of coronavirus, some births, deaths and marriages services are affected.

Face coverings

From 8 August 2020, it will be mandatory for guests to wear a face covering when attending a funeral, wedding or civil partnership ceremony at a Register Office, place of worship or other approved venue. 

The bride, groom and civil partners are not required to wear a face covering.

There are exemptions. See government guidance on face coverings.

Copies of certificates

We have restarted our copy of birth, death or marriage certificate service, with some changes.

Our same day certificate service remains suspended.

Copy certificates cannot be purchased at the counter and must be ordered by telephone on 0191 424 6350. 

We are currently accepting card payments only (no cash, cheques or postal orders).

Marriages and civil partnerships

Marriages and civil partnerships can take place from Saturday 4 July.

We have received further guidance from the government about how ceremonies can take place safely and what this will mean for couples who are wanting to marry or register a civil partnership while following government guidelines on social distancing.

We we will do everything we can to support couples through this time and help them understand how the current restrictions may impact on their ceremony. If you still want your ceremony to take place, we will discuss with you how this can be done safely. If you want to postpone, we will support you through this process.

See below the latest guidance for weddings and civil partnerships:

  • From Saturday 4 July 2020, small civil ceremonies can take place in the Register Office and in all venues licensed for weddings and civil partnerships 
  • Weddings and civil partnerships can only take place in a Covid-19 secure environment
  • Ceremonies should be kept as short as possible and limited to the parts of the ceremonies that are required in order for a marriage or civil partnership to be legally binding under the law of England and Wales
  • No more than 30 people can be present at a marriage or civil partnership, where you can maintain a safe distance in a Covid-19 secure venue
  • In some instances, due to the size of the venue's ceremony room this number may be less than 30. For example, the ceremony rooms in the Register Office have been risk assessed and can safely hold 19 people in the Barrington Suite and 13 people in the Garden Room
  • The maximum number includes everyone involved in the ceremony including the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests. It also includes any staff who are not employed by the venue, which may include photographers, security or caterers
  • For ceremonies the number of attendees should be kept to a minimum as far as possible. The lower the number of attendees, the lower the risk of spreading the virus.
  • Do not attend a ceremony if you are unwell with symptoms of Covid-19. If either member of the couple have symptoms of Covid-19 the ceremony should not go ahead and should be postponed
  • All attendees must follow social distancing guidelines and keep a safe distance, wherever possible
  • It's is strongly advised for any receptions to not take place at this time. Small celebrations should only take place if following social distancing guidelines, eg in groups of up to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors

If you are planning a ceremony at an approved premise please contact the venue directly about their arrangements to offer Covid-19 secure ceremonies. The Registration Service will be working with approved venues to make sure they follow the current guidance for Covid-19 secure environments for ceremonies.

If you have a ceremony booked for July and August, you will be contacted by the Registrar to discuss your ceremony.

Notice of Marriage and Civil Partnership 

New Notices of Marriage or Civil Partnership will restart from 1 August for ceremonies taking place from mid-September.

We are prioritising couples whose ceremonies have been cancelled or affected by Covid-19 to allow them to rebook and give new Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership where needed.

We will only offer an appointment for a new Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership if:

  • your venue has confirmed that it has carried out a risk assessment and is a Covid-19 secure environment
  • your venue has confirmed it is open for ceremonies
  • your ceremony date is no more than 6 to 8 weeks away

If your ceremony date is more than 8 weeks away, you will not be able to give Notice of Marriage or Civil Partnership until 6 to 8 weeks before your ceremony date. If there are exceptional circumstances we may offer an appointment to give Notice (at our discretion).

Registering a death

You can register a death by making a telephone appointment. Find out more about registering a death.

Registering a birth

  • Birth registrations have restarted, with changes in place
  • A new system has been put in place to allow outstanding birth registrations to be as quickly as possible whilst following social distancing guidelines
  • Registrations will be appointment only
  • Availability will be staggered based on the date of the birth of the child. This will allow earlier births to be registered first
  • Parents of unregistered babies will receive a letter inviting them to contact the Register Office on 0191 4277000 to make an appointment.  If you are a South Tyneside resident and your baby was born in Sunderland, you will also receive a letter to allow your baby's birth to be registered at the Register Office in South Tyneside

If you are attending an appointment to register a birth, please follow the strict social distancing guidelines below:

  • If you are married or in a civil partnership only one parent should attend to register the birth
  • If you are not married or in a civil partnership both parents should attend
  • For the safety of your family and Register Office staff you should not bring your baby, other children or family members to the appointment with you. If you bring any other person to the appointment, they will not be able to access to the Register Office
  • If you or any one you live with are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19 you should not attend and you should contact us to rearrange your appointment
  • If you are showing symptoms when you attend your appointment you will be asked to leave and to rearrange your appointment
  • You will be asked to sanitise your hands when entering the Register Office and before leaving
  • A strict one-way system is in place and must be followed
  • Copy birth certificates can be purchased at your appointment which cost £11 each. We are currently accepting card payments only (no cash or cheques)

More detailed information will be provided by a Registrar when you book your appointment.

Funerals

In accordance with national guidance, the Council must now restrict attendance numbers at funerals at the crematorium and cemeteries.  

Following careful consideration, the Council has taken the very difficult decision to restrict funerals to immediate family up to a maximum of 15 people. This approach is line with other authorities across the region.

Anyone needing to contact Bereavement Services for advice and guidance should do so by contacting 0191 427 3190.

Cemeteries and the crematorium

Cemeteries and the crematorium are open.

Due to government guidance on social distancing, the Roll of Remembrance Chapel and Flower Chapel at South Shields Crematorium are closed until further notice.

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