LEGAL REQUIREMENTS TO MARRY IN AUSTRALIA
Although you have an abundance of choices regarding your ceremony, there are certain legal requirements to marry in Australia. It is important that you understand some important legal requirements for marriage and; as your Registered Civil Marriage Celebrant, it is my job to ensure these are carried out & you have a valid & legally binding marriage.
Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) Form
This form must be submitted at least one month prior to the date of your intended marriage (and up to 18 months prior to the wedding). Once a booking has been confirmed, I catch up with couples for preliminary discussions, to complete this form, witness the signatures & check forms of identification/ certificates.
- You can download the form here (NOIM Form) but I also provide it at our meeting.
- For couples that are remote, notice can be signed in the presence of an authorized celebrant, a justice of the peace, a barrister or solicitor, a legally qualified medical practitioner, or a member of the Australian Federal Police.
- The one month waiting period does not start until I have the completed & signed form in my possession.
- Only one person needs to visit the celebrant to complete the NOIM form, lodging the form on the couples. The other person can sign at a later date prior to marriage
- I do not give marriage counselling. However it is a legal requirement that I give you a brochure called “Happily Ever…Before & After” & I inform couples of local counselling providers if they wish to pursue further.
- There are exceptional circumstances where a court can approve a shorter timing (ie 31 day notice waived). Please contact me regarding this requirement
Forms of Identification
It is preferred that these documents are produced by your celebrant on filling the NOIM form, however, they can be sighted prior to the day of marriage. Note – The ceremony cannot proceed unless all the required documentation has been produced.
- Original birth certificate or birth extract (showing the date & place of birth) together with a current form of photo identification (e.g. drivers licence) OR
- A current passport issued by the Australian government or a government from an overseas country (showing the date & place of birth) OR
- A Commonwealth statutory declaration stating reasons why it is impracticable to obtain an official birth certificate
- A change of name certificate if you have changed your name.
- Death certificate – If the party intending to be married is a widow/widower from a previous marriage, an original death certificate must be produced.
- Divorce certificate / decree absolute – If either party has previously been married, evidence of the dissolution of that marriage must be produced prior to the date of your marriage.
- A court order & written consent from your parents if one party is under 18
Note – What do I do if I can’t find my documents?
- If you were born in Australia, you can obtain a copy (for a fee) of your birth certificate from Births, Deaths & Marriages, in the state in which you were born. Note – The application can take a couple of weeks to be processed, so it is important that you organise this as soon as possible.
- If you have divorced & need a copy of your divorce certificate or decree absolute, then this can be obtained from the family law court in the state in which the marriage was dissolved.
Your wedding ceremony can be as unique & individual as you are; however there are certain legal requirements to marry in Australia which must be met before, during & after your ceremony.
- I must introduce myself & make it known I am the authorised Civil Celebrant registered to perform marriages in Australia according to Australian Law.
- I must use your full names at least once during the ceremony
- I must state the words from Section 46 of the Marriage Act 1961 referred to as The Monitum: “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence & in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn & binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia is the union of a man & a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
- In the presence of your witnesses, you must state the words from Section 45 of the Marriage Act 1961 as your marriage vows “I call upon the persons here present to witness that I (Bride or Groom) take you (Bride or Groom) to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”
Witnesses & Signing
- You must have two witnesses over the age of 18 & preferably known to you.
- At the rehearsal (1 week prior) the couple sign
- Form 14 (provided by the celebrant) – Each party to an intended marriage must make a statutory declaration before the authorised celebrant as to their conjugal status & belief that there is no legal impediment to the marriage
- At the Ceremony, the Groom & Bride and 2 witness each sign
- Form 15: Certificate of marriage – Given to the bride & groom
- Form 16: Marriage certificate – Sent to Births, Deaths & Marriages registry
- Red Book – Retained by marriage celebrant as record of marriage
After the wedding
It is important to realise that marriage certificate given to you on your wedding day is not an identity document & some institutions will not recognise it if you want to change your name. Couples need to apply for a registry-issued marriage certificate from Births Deaths & Marriages (at a fee). As part of my service, I provide couples with after wedding information, which provides instructions on applying for your official marriage certificate, how to change of name after marriage & a checklist of organisations.
Interpreters & Overseas residents
If the bride, groom or witnesses do not speak English or are not fluent enough to understand everything an interpreter must be used. This may be a family friend or relative. A Statutory Declaration must be completed by the interpreter before the ceremony & a Certificate of Faithful Performance signed straight after. Please note that any original documents will also need to be translated into English by an accredited translator. Accredited interpreters can be found at NAATI The National Accreditation Authority for Translators & Interpreters Ltd.
Note. You must be able to understand what is being said or shown to you. If I am not confident that you understand English sufficiently, I will request an interpreter is present for processing of all legal forms & at the ceremony. If you say or do anything that suggests that your consent is not real it is against the law for me to continue with the wedding.
Where one party to the marriage is resident overseas & is applying to immigrate to Australia on a fiancé (Prospective Spouse) visa, the Department of Immigration & Citizenship requires that you provide proof of your intention to marry & that you actually marry within 9 months of arriving in Australia. I will be happy to assist you however, I cannot provide you with immigration advice & I strongly suggest you discuss these matters with a registered Migration Agent. If you would like any further information, The Marriage Act 1961 & the Marriage Regulations 1963 are available on the Attorney General’s website.