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The role of the Registrar

Information about the Registrar’s duties regarding ordinations, collations and institutions, licensing, vacancies, clergy conduct, resignations and with overseas clergy.

The Diocese of Norwich maintains an average of just over 180 stipendiary clergy and a number of non-stipendiary clergy.


Ordained ministry is a call to build up the Body of Christ through the celebration of the sacraments, teaching, preaching and pastoral care. Those interested in pursuing a vocation in ministry should contact the Bishop’s Officer for Ordinands and Initial Training, the Revd Dr Michael Fox, who is based at Diocesan House. Enquiries should be addressed in the first instance to Mrs Margaret Mallett, Michael’s PA, at, telephone 01603 882359.

The Diocesan Registrar is responsible for preparing the necessary papers for new clergy appointments, including ordinations. These papers typically include an oath of allegiance, a declaration of assent and an oath of canonical obedience. The form of the declaration and oaths is set out in the Canons of the Church of England (Canon C13 for Oath of Allegiance, Canon C14 for the Oath of Obedience and Canon C15 for the Declaration of Assent). The Registrar is also involved in checking the candidate’s certificates (birth certificate and testimony of his former good life for a deacon, and letters of orders with similar testimony for a priest).

Collations and Institutions

The Registrar prepares the necessary papers when a priest moves to a new benefice. This is known a ‘Collation’ when the Bishop is the patron, or an ‘Institution’ where the candidate is presented by some other patron. As with ordination, the presentee has to make a declaration of assent and take an oath of allegiance to the King and of canonical obedience to the Bishop. The presentee will, usually at the same service, also be inducted into the temporalities of the benefice by the Archdeacon or his deputy.


The Bishop may license ministers to serve within the Diocese either generally in any parish or ecclesiastical district or specifically to perform some particular office or to serve in connection with a mission initiative. A licence may specify a period of time for which it will be valid, subject to limitations in regulation 29 of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations 2009 (as amended). The Diocesan Registrar is responsible for the preparation of licences and the associated paperwork.


Notice of forthcoming or ad hoc vacancies in a benefice is given to the Diocesan Registrar (and also to the designated officer of the Diocese). The Registrar will provide assistance in identifying the person or corporation having the right to present a new incumbent. See the Patronage page.

Since 1 February 2011, new clergy appointments have been made under the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009. Information about the new terms of service, described as “Common Tenure” is available on the Church of England Website at Common Tenure.

Standards of Conduct for the Clergy

The guidelines for the standard of conduct expected of the Clergy have recently been refreshed. The guidelines have been published under the title “Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy”, and are available for purchase from Church House Publishing The guidelines are also available online on the Church of England website at Guidelines for the Professional Conduct of the Clergy.


Incumbents intending to retire must give written notice of their intention to do so using the prescribed form, where the intended date of retirement should be stated. Before arrangements can be made for payment of a pension, the Clergy Pensions Board requires the Diocesan Registrar to certify the retirement date. The Registrar can only do this if he has received a completed notice of resignation from the priest concerned. Clergy are therefore advised to send the Registrar a completed resignation form well before the proposed retirement date stated in the form, in order to avoid any delay in the commencement of payment of the pension.

Resignation by an incumbent is normally effected by completion of a Deed of Resignation.

Overseas Clergy

Overseas Clergy from churches within the Anglican Communion who wish to accept a post or to minister in the Diocese will need to obtain approval from the Archbishop of Canterbury through the office of the Provincial Registrar at Church House before taking up any post in the Diocese. An application form is available at Overseas Clergy Application Form. When completed the application should be returned to The Provincial Registrar, Legal Office, Church House, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3NZ, together with the following:

  1. Copies of Letters of Orders as Deacon and Priest as appropriate
  2. A letter from the ‘sending’ Bishop confirming that the applicant is in good standing
  3. A copy of a letter indicating that the Bishop of the ‘receiving’ diocese is willing to give the applicant permission to officiate in the diocese.

General Register Office – Clergy guidance and newsletter

The General Register Office publishes an occasional newsletter with useful information about registration of marriages. A link to this newsletter is available at GRO Clergy Newsletter.

The GRO also publishes a Guidebook for The Clergy, which gives helpful advice on the law relating to marriages and funerals, completion, storage and correction of registers, and other matters. It includes examples of completed register entries and corrected entries, and various certificates, including a sample of a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate, likely to become more common as a marriage preliminary where one or both of the intending parties to a marriage is or are nationals of countries outside the European Economic Area.

There is additional guidance on the marriage of foreign nationals in the light of the Immigration Act 2014 at Immigration Act 2014 – Marriage Guidance