Wedding Wednesday: Making it Legal

This week I thought I’d talk about how we made it legal.

We were originally going to have the legal bit during the week so we could focus entirely on the part that was important to us. We didn’t find the legal bit particularly enthralling to think about because we had both wanted to get married outdoors, and in the UK you can’t get a legally recognised outdoor wedding without a licensed officiant, and they can only perform on-location weddings at licensed venues that have a wedding license. That means there’s very few outdoor locations, and they’re all “licensed venues,” so you can’t do it on the beach or in the woods wherever else you feel like it. We looked into this, and found there was only one place in York licensed for outdoor weddings, and the cost was exorbitant, certainly far greater than our £500 total wedding budget, so we decided it would be easier to have the bog standard cheapest wedding ceremony and make it personal later.

Since we were both teachers when we were planning it, and there wasn’t a holiday any time near our chosen celebration date (21st June), we had to have it on a weekend. Since we were doing that (you have to pay registry offices more to get married at the weekend, presumably to make up for the fact that you’re not losing a day’s pay like you would on a weekday, assuming you work Monday to Friday), we decided we might as well just have the whole damn thing on the same day.

We originally booked an appointment to look around our local Register Office and decided that we felt it was a bit expensive and lacking in the wow factor.  The leaking ceiling and water damage didn’t help their case. Since we were free to use any Register Office in the UK, we decided to look elsewhere in Yorkshire, and viewed Harrogate Register Office. We thought it was a more beautiful building, it could hold more people, and the grounds and interior were elegant and Georgian. Additionally, it had on-street parking as well as a car park. For £200 less than our local office. So we were sold. We paid our £180 and made a date.

Before we were able to get married, we both had to attend an interview at our local register office. They weren’t particularly generous to us, presumably because we weren’t using their facilities (the Harrogate date was booked at this point), and we were both interviewed separately and asked the full set of “is this a sham marriage for immigration purposes” questions. Despite the fact that all of our parents were born in the UK, and we are both British Citizens.  Other people who DID use the local office to get married in the same year as us did not have to go through this to the same degree.

We managed to get through mostly unscathed, although they get REALLY annoyed if you don’t know each other’s parents’ dates of birth or whether the other person has ever been known by any other names (because that comes up so many times during the dating process).  Since my future husband had never met my mother, there was no way he was going to know what her date of birth was.  The woman conducting the interview got very caught up on this and even spent half an hour phoning Harrogate register office and redialing and redialing (they must have been busy) to check whether they would accept our wedding if my future husband didn’t know my mother’s date of birth.

Eventually she decided there was nothing she could stop us marrying over, and we were allowed to have our wedding.  It did seem very silly to ask the person you’re marrying about all this stuff, and I think they could improve it by asking me about me and him about him, THEN quizzing us about each other.  That would have made a lot more sense.  But that wasn’t how they did it.  Logic tells me this stuff is all things they should be able to ask if they suspect something is wrong with your proposed wedding, but that it got taken too far on this occasion.

I would say this is the opposite of a deterrent to sham weddings, because they’re more likely to learn all this stuff about each other to get through the interview.  If you’re getting a registrar to do your marriage, learn all the details about each other first.

After this, we got a big booklet through the post which looked like an exam paper.  It had loads of questions and dotted lines and delete as applicables.  Most of the wording was optional and it was supposed to be “personalised” so for example you could choose four different Hallmark declarations to state when giving the rings.  We hated all of it it was far too saccharine and Eastenders for our tastes, so we crossed out everything that was optional and pared it down to the simplest way of saying “you two are getting married.  Do you want to get married? M’kay you’re married now.  Swap some rings and kiss.”

With our wedding coming AFTER the legalisation of gay marriage, but the brochures being obviously out of date, I also took the liberty of changing the legal and non-optional preamble that said “marriage is between one man and one woman” to “marriage is between two people of any gender” Now the regsitrar didn’t read the “of any gender” bit, but she was happy to say “marriage is between two people” instead of one man and one woman, and that was enough of a result for me.

We also had to choose some music for the ceremony.  We chose “Science Fiction Double Feature” (from Rocky Horror) for walking down the aisle, “Bat Out of Hell” (by Meatloaf) for leaving, “Poison” (by Alice Cooper) for signing the register and I’m sure I got them to play “Bohemian Rhapshody” (by Queen) as well but I can’t remember what aspect of the ceremony that was for, and we didn’t get to keep our exam booklet so I don’t have the list.  Then we burned them all onto one CD in the correct order to send back with our booklet so that it was foolproof, but we didn’t need to worry, the Harrogate Register Office team were INCREDIBLY competent and helpful individuals.  In this booklet, we also needed to state the names of the two witnesses who would counter sign the register.

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International Window Tinting Laws for Cars Driving Around the World

Tinted Windows In Europe and Around the World (updated Feb 2016)

So you’ve worked out how to get petrol when you’re abroad.  Next on your list of vehicle considerations is how to stop light getting into where you’re sleeping.  If you’re thinking of doing a longer term driving expedition, you need to know about the worldwide laws surrounding tinted windows. It’s probably occurred to you that it would be a Very Good Thing if you could sleep in your camper conversion without having passers-by staring into your lovely portable home while you sleep. Other people like the UV protection, and women drivers say they like being able to avoid unwanted attention of men in countries like UAE or Iran.  However, while the EU has passed a decisive law on the matter, individual EU member states have still made their own laws about it. One country has completely outlawed any tint. And then there’s the rest of the world; beyond the EU, in Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine, for example, it’s very difficult to find out what the legalities are for tinted windows. The other complication is that, for the most part, these laws only apply to citizens of the country which made the law, so if you’re passing through, you’ll probably (but not necessarily) be able to get away with it in a UK registered car. Once you’ve stayed in the same country for more than 180 days, it becomes a legal requirement to follow their car maintenance and tax laws, and remember that your car will still have to be fully road-legal for the UK before you drive onto that ferry home, as well.

Here’s a breakdown of the tint laws, ranked by percentage tint.

100% Black tint on all windows – not legal, anywhere. In Britain it was outlawed for front side windows in 2003. It reduces the distance of your visibility and has been shown to increase the chance of an accident (although this could be something to do with the fact that drug dealers etc tend to have tinted windows, and they don’t exactly drive carefully, so perhaps they should be cracking down on drug dealers, not tinted windows).

Rear Windows:

100% black tint on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B post) – UK, Germany (must have a manufacturing approval number at least once on each window, and you must carry a document explaining who did the tint and with the same approval number on it), Spain (same paperwork as for Germany), Belgium (but must be certified by the Glass Institute and if you’re putting any tint on rear window, you must have two wing mirrors), France (providing it doesn’t deform or reduce visibility, and has been certified), Czech Republic (but must be certified), Italy (must be certified), Russia, Spain (but film must be approved for use in Spain and certified), Poland (same as for Spain).  From people’s experience, lots of travellers found it impossible to get tinting film that was approved for either Spain or Poland, because they haven’t actually approved any that are reasonably available to buy at the time of writing.

80% tint or 20% VLT (visible light transmission) on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B-post) – Austria (and 20% tint (80% VLT) on front windows),

65% tint or 35% VLT – Australia (all windows)

60% tint or 40% VLT on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B-post) – Denmark.

30% tint or 70% VLT on rear window and rear-side windows (after the B-post) – Finland, Hungary.

Front Windows:

25% tint – 75% VLT – on front windows and front windscreen: UK, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Russia,

30% tint – 70% VLT – on front windows and front windscreen: Belgium, Malta, United Arab Emirates,

No tint whatsoever on front windows or front side windows forward of B-pillar: Italy, France (you’re allowed a low tint on sides but nothing on front), Spain,

65% tint – 35% VLT – Australia (all windows).

Total Tint Ban:

0% Tint – all windows must be 100% transparent – Portugal, Belarus, Libya, Kuwait, Bolivia, Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan. Almost all of these are recent law changes and are due to violence and the ongoing threat of terrorism. Except Portugal. They’re just being silly for such a hot country. Egypt and Cyprus – unless it’s the actual glass rather than a tinted film. Tinted glass appears to be fine at any transparency in Cyprus and Egypt, but tinted film is totally banned.

Unusual Exceptions:

Greece – they state that all passengers and driver must be visible at all times, so some tint is probably OK but dark tints would not be. I would be a bit concerned about taking a tinted vehicle to Greece because they’re not very specific.

Tunisia – they say tints are allowed but should not be so heavily tinted that it is not possible to see into the car from outside, but they don’t specify a percentage.

Tajikistan – no tinting at all unless you buy a tinting “licence” to own tinted windows – at about $500 per vehicle.

India – total tint ban for film, but if it’s come from the manufacturer, it can be 30% tinted – so 70% VLT – in front and rear windows, and 50% tinted on the side windows.

America – state vs federal law in the USA, and a similar thing in Canada, appears to over-complicate the tinting requirements depending on which state you are in. This helpful article explains it all (near the bottom): http://www.ritrama.com/ritrama/userfiles/file/prodotti/Car_Window_Tinting_Laws.pdf

Turkmenistan – Window tints are totally illegal, but Turkmenistan deserved a separate entry because the following are also illegal: 2 door cars, engines over 3 litres, cars older than 5 years of age, black coloured cars are also banned and so are any kind of sports cars.  Source here (about halfway down the article): https://www.quora.com/What-are-some-strange-things-banned-in-countries

Notable lack of information:

There was no information despite hours of detailed searches for the following countries: Romania, Morocco, Mongolia, Iran, China – apparently some tints are illegal in China, but there’s no specifics (see the only reference I could find)

Tanzania – taxis and buses should not have tinted windows but there’s a distinct lack of information regarding the legality of private vehicles.

Got any inside info on countries I could add to this article?  Let me know in the comments!

References:

France: http://www.connexionfrance.com/Tinted-car-windows-ban-Pechenard-90kph-80kph-15171-view-article.html

Bolivia: http://www.carthrottle.com/post/the-10-most-awesome-cop-stories-youve-lived-through/

Kenya: http://allafrica.com/stories/201405161523.html

UAE: http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/transport/drivers-face-fines-and-seeing-their-cars-impounded-but-they-still-want-tints

Egypt: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/namru3/Staff/Documents/WELCOME%20ABOARD%20BROCHURE%20Update%20AUG%2012.pdf

Libya: http://www.tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c=1&i=7778

Tunisia: http://www.ediplomat.com/np/post_reports/pr_tn.htm

Sudan: http://catholicradionetwork.org/?q=node/7211

Tajikistan: http://www.eurasianet.org/node/63670

China: http://www.scmp.com/article/376926/tinted-window-law-not-tough-enough

India: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/From-Friday-any-tinted-film-on-car-windows-will-be-illegal/articleshow/12956949.cms

Pakistan: http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2013/03/28/feature-01

Any other countries mentioned: http://www.ritrama.com/ritrama/userfiles/file/prodotti/Car_Window_Tinting_Laws.pdf