Forced marriage is when two people are forced to marry without the consent of one or both parties, often by putting the victims under physical, psychological or emotional pressure.

Forced marriage is not the same as an arranged marriage, where both parties are free to choose to marry the person that has been selected for them.

Force marriage is a serious crime, punishable by up to seven years in prison. It's also illegal to take someone overseas to force them to marry (even if the wedding doesn't go ahead) or to marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to provide their consent.

What to do if you have concerns

If you think someone you know is going to be taken abroad and forced into marriage you can apply for a Forced Marriage Prevention Order to be made. Please visit the website for details and how to apply.

If you think you may be forced into a marriage in this country or abroad there are some practical steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • keep a copy of your passports
  • tell a trusted friend if you're travelling abroad, where you're staying and the date you are due to come home
  • memorise our number (+44 1380 826 614) that of a trusted friend and the email address for the Forced Marriage Unit,
  • note the addresses of the British Embassies in the country you are travelling to.

If you're at an airport you can tell the authorities at passport control or when you are going through security and they can help keep you safe.

How to report it

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, phone 999 straight away.

If you feel you or someone you know are at risk but not in immediate danger call us on 101

Other useful links are listed elsewhere on this page.

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