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Services › Births Deaths and Marriages › How to Get a Marriage Licence
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- What is a marriage?
- Marriage ceremony
- What you need to do before you can get married
- Consent to enter into a marriage
- When and how to apply for a marriage licence
- Notice of Intended Marriage forms
- Paying for your marriage licence
- Collecting and using your marriage licence
- Changing a civil union to a marriage
What is a Marriage?A marriage is the formalisation of a relationship between a man and a woman, in accordance with the Marriage Act 1955. The Marriage Act 1955 provides the criteria, rules and processes for two people to have their relationship solemnised as a marriage (by way of a formal ceremony) and officially registered in New Zealand.
Anybody can marry in New Zealand, as long as they are legally free to marry. Under New Zealand law this means that:
- A marriage may only be entered into by couples of opposite sexes.
- They are not already married or in a civil union with a person other than the person they will be marrying (or if they have been married, the marriage has been dissolved by a court of law).
- They are old enough (16 or over, although parental consent is required if either party is 16 or 17 years old).
- They are not closely related by blood, marriage, civil union or adoption. Details of these "prohibited" marriages appear on the form 'Notice of Intended Marriage', which is used to apply for a marriage licence.
Marriages registered in other countries will generally be recognised as marriages in New Zealand. Note, same-sex couples may not be married in New Zealand.
Marriage CeremonyThere are two types of marriage ceremony:
- A ceremony solemnised by a Registrar of Marriages in a Registry Office. Registry Office ceremonies are not open to the public; and
- A ceremony solemnised by an authorised Marriage Celebrant at a place other than a Registry Office. There is no legal requirement that a ceremony before a marriage celebrant be open to the public.
During the ceremony before a marriage celebrant, and before at least two witnesses, each party must say the words "I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife/husband" or words to similar effect.
If having a Registry Office ceremony before a Registrar of Marriages, and before at least two witnesses, each party must say the words "I AB, take you CD, to be my legal wife/husband". Please be aware if you are considering having a Registry Office ceremony, that they are standardised to meet the legislative requirements of getting married, which includes standard marriage vows.
What You Need to do Before You Can Get MarriedFor a guide to help you in your preparations to marry in New Zealand, download our brochure Getting Married: a guide for couples preparing to get married in New Zealand.
Decide when and where you want to get marriedYou will need to know when and where you want to get married when you complete your application for a marriage licence. You should also choose an alternative venue in the event that the weather prevents you from marrying at your primary venue.
Choose a Marriage Celebrant In New Zealand you must be married by an appointed marriage celebrant. This may be a Registrar of Marriages, an independent marriage celebrant, a minister of a church or a person connected with an approved organisation. Contact a Registrar of Marriages for a list of appointed marriage celebrants.
You will need to contact your marriage celebrant and agree on a time and place before applying for your marriage licence.
Get a Marriage Licence To get a licence you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage application form. If either of you have been married or in a civil union before, and the marriage or civil union has been dissolved, you may be asked to produce evidence of the dissolution (e.g. Divorce/Dissolution Order) when you give notice to the Registrar. If your previous spouse or partner has died you do not have to produce evidence of their death, but you will have to give the date of death on the Notice of Intended Marriage.
Make a Statutory Declaration As part of completing the application form for a marriage licence, you need to make a statutory declaration. Either you or your partner will need to make a formal statutory declaration that there is no lawful impediment to the marriage (i.e. no legal reason that you both cannot be married), that the details given are true, that the bride and groom are not within the "prohibited degrees of relationship" and that consent has been given (where relevant).
If you live in New Zealand one of you must make this declaration in the presence of a Registrar of Marriages. Contact us for your nearest Registrar.
If both of you live outside of New Zealand:
- You can send the form to the New Zealand Registrar of Marriages closest to where you intend to marry once you have completed the form, signed the statutory declaration and had it witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative. If it is convenient, you can have the declaration witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative, at our London or Sydney office. Note: only the Notice of Intended Marriage where both parties ordinarily resident outside New Zealand (BDM 58) can be signed by a Commonwealth representative.
- Alternately, if you will be in New Zealand at least three working days before the ceremony (either the bride or groom, or both) you can sign the statutory declaration and have it witnessed by a Registrar of Marriages in New Zealand.
- See Cheque Payments for a New Zealand Marriage Licence or New Zealand Civil Union Licence to check the locations of the Registry Offices in New Zealand. The contact details for your nearest Registrar of Marriages can be obtained by contacting us or contact the District Court for their addresses.
- You should advise the Registrar of the date that you intend to collect the marriage licence (this must be at least three days after your completed form reaches the Registrar).
- For more details about applying from overseas, see 'When and How to Apply for a Marriage Licence; If you both live outside New Zealand'.
Consent to Enter into a MarriageTo get married both parties to the marriage must be at least 16 years of age. If either party is 16 or 17 years of age, they must obtain consent:
- You must obtain consent' from each of your guardians (usually your parents) unless they cannot be located or are, as a result of incapacity, unable to give consent.
- If none of your guardians are able to give consent, you must obtain consent from a relative acting in place of a guardian, or from a Family Court Judge.
- If your parents or guardians refuse consent, you can apply to a Family Court Judge for consent to get married.
When and How to Apply for a Marriage LicenceYou will need to get a marriage licence from a Registrar of Marriages. To apply for a marriage licence one of the parties to the marriage must fill out the appropriate form.
- If you live in New Zealand or will be in New Zealand at least three days before you intend to be married (either the bride or groom, or both) complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (BDM 60) form. You cannot complete the form online, as either the bride or the groom must complete a statutory declaration (part of the form). The statutory declaration must be made in the presence of a Registrar of Marriages. This must be done in person.
- If you both live outside New Zealand and will arrive in New Zealand less than three days before the date you want to marry, you may be able to complete most of the formalities before you arrive in New Zealand. You will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage where Parties Ordinarily Resident outside New Zealand (BDM 58) form. If you are overseas, the declaration must either be signed by a Commonwealth Representative, and then sent (with payment) to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. If it is convenient, you can have the declaration witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative, for instance, at our London or Sydney office. Note: only the Notice of Intended Marriage where both parties ordinarily resident outside New Zealand (BDM 58) can be signed by a Commonwealth representative. Or, you can complete everything on the form except the declaration, and send it (with payment) to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. When you arrive in New Zealand, you then need to visit that office, sign the declaration before a Registrar of Marriages and collect the marriage licence.
- If you wish to change the form of your relationship from a civil union to a marriage you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage, change of relationship from civil union (BDM 59) form. See: Changing a Civil Union to a Marriage
Paying for Your Marriage LicenceMarriage conducted at the Registry Office
If you wish for your marriage to be conducted by a Registrar of Marriages at the Registry Office, you must pay a fee of NZ$173.70 when you send in or hand over the completed Notice of Intended Marriage form. This includes the fee for the marriage licence and the ceremony. Please discuss with the Registrar at the office where you plan to have the marriage ceremony of the date and time for your ceremony. Remember to include your contact details (e.g. a telephone number in New Zealand or an address) in case the Registrar needs to contact you.
Marriage conducted by a Marriage Celebrant
If you wish for your marriage to be conducted by a Marriage Celebrant, you must pay a fee of NZ$122.60 when you send in or hand over the completed Notice of Intended Marriage form. This includes the fee for the marriage licence but does not include any expenses of the marriage celebrant. The name of the celebrant must be given on the form in order for your licence to be issued. Only those persons appointed by the Registrar-General as Marriage Celebrants and whose names appear in the list of Marriage Celebrants in the New Zealand Gazette or at www.bdm.govt.nz have authority to solemnise marriages in New Zealand.
How to pay your marriage licence fee
Registry Offices will accept over the counter payments by cheque, cash, New Zealand money order or, in most offices credit card and EFTPOS.
If you are sending the fee by post from outside New Zealand, payment can be made by way of a bank draft (i.e. a bank cheque, which can be purchased at most banks) in New Zealand dollars. Who you make the cheque payable to depends on the Registry Office you intend to send your application to. Please see 'Cheque payments for a New Zealand marriage licence or New Zealand civil union licence' for further information.
Collecting and Using Your Marriage LicenceA marriage licence is normally issued no sooner than three calendar days (e.g. it may sometimes be four or five days) after the completed Notice of Intended Marriage form is submitted and the fee has been paid.
Your marriage licence is valid for three months from the date on which it is issued. During that period you are free to marry at the place or places specified on the marriage licence.
If you change your venue before the marriage has taken place, you must advise the Registry Office from where your licence was obtained.
At the conclusion of the ceremony you will be handed a signed copy of one of the 'Copy of Particulars of Marriage'. The other copy will be returned to the issuing Registrar by your marriage celebrant.