Services › BDM › Marriage Amendment Act - Questions and Answers
19 September 2013
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- How has the law changed?
- When is the first day a same sex couple can get married?
- If I have a civil union, then want to get married to my partner, what is involved?
- If I live in another country, what do I have to do to get married in New Zealand?
- What will a marriage licence cost?
- Will you still be able to choose ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ on marriage forms?
- Can a celebrant or church minister refuse to marry a same sex couple?
- If someone has the license to officiate at civil unions, will they automatically be able to perform marriages?
- How many Civil Unions and marriages were there in 2012?
When is the first day a same sex couple can get married?The first day a same sex couple can get married is the day the Marriage Amendment Act comes into force. The Act came into force on 19 August 2013. Regulations providing new forms for couples to use to give notice of their intended marriage came into force on 16 August 2013.
The new notification of intention of marriage forms have been available from 12 August. A couple needs to complete the appropriate form and one of the couple needs to appear in person at a Registry Office to sign the statutory declaration. The marriage is then able to take place.
Couples coming from overseas please refer to If I live in another country, what do I have to do to get married in New Zealand? below.
If I have a civil union, then want to get married to my partner, what is involved?As a couple in a civil union who wish to continue in a relationship with each other, you may change the form of your relationship to a marriage without having to formally dissolve your civil union. You will be required to produce evidence of your current civil union when you complete a ‘Notice of Intended Marriage, change of relationship from civil union’ form and pay the fee.
If I live in another country, what do I have to do to get married in New Zealand? If you are applying for the marriage licence from outside of New Zealand, the only difference is in regards to the form you complete (i.e. BDM 58: ‘Notice of Intended Marriage where both parties ordinarily resident outside New Zealand.’ A new, updated version of this form is available on the DIA website, here: Notice of Intended Marriage - PDF, 85k).
If you are overseas, the statutory declaration may be signed by a Commonwealth Representative, and then sent to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. This notice should arrive at least a week before you intend to get married. If it is convenient, you can have the declaration witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative at our London or Sydney office.
Alternatively, 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 and collect the marriage licence.
Or, you can travel to New Zealand, pay the fee and fill out the form here in front of a local Registrar and then three days later a marriage licence and associated documentation would be ready for collection and a marriage can take place.
Please note that the recognition of your New Zealand marriage is subject to the laws of your home country.
What will a marriage licence cost?The fee for a marriage licence or to give notice of a change of relationship is the same - $122.60 if using an approved marriage celebrant, or $173.70 if having a Registry Office ceremony.
Will you still be able to choose ‘bride’ and ‘groom’ on marriage forms?Yes, ‘bride’ and ‘bridegroom’ remain as terms on the marriage forms. Alternatively, individuals may choose to refer to themselves as ‘partners’ should they wish. The terms that the couple choose will appear on marriage certificates issued after the marriage is registered.
Can a celebrant or church minister refuse to marry a same sex couple?The Marriage Act authorises but does not oblige any marriage celebrant to solemnise a marriage. This is unchanged by the Marriage Amendment Act. However this is further reinforced by the Amendment Act which states that no religious or organisational celebrant is obliged to solemnise a marriage that would contravene religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions of a religious body or approved organisation.
If someone has the license to officiate at civil unions, will they automatically be able to perform marriages?No. Marriages and civil unions are administered under different Acts. To 'solemnise' or conduct marriages, a person must be approved in accordance with the Marriage Act 1955 and have their name published as a Marriage Celebrant in the New Zealand Gazette. There are three types of marriage celebrant: independent; Ministers of religious bodies; and organisational:
- Independent Marriage Celebrants - persons appointed by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages as marriage celebrants and who operate independent of churches and organisations. 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 and at www.bdm.govt.nz have the authority to solemnise marriages in New Zealand.
- Ministers of religious bodies (as specified in Schedule 1 of the Marriage Act 1955) – each of these religious bodies nominates its ministers, and the ministers’ names are published in the New Zealand Gazette and on www.bdm.govt.nz.
- Organisational celebrants – approval is granted to certain organisations that have as one of their principal objects the upholding or promotion of religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions; these organisations then nominate their designated celebrants and the names are published in the New Zealand Gazette and on www.bdm.govt.nz.
To 'solemnise' or conduct civil unions, a person must be approved by the Registrar-General in accordance with the Civil Union Act 2004 and have their name published as a Civil Union Celebrant in the New Zealand Gazette and at www.bdm.govt.nz.
How many Civil Unions and marriages were there in 2012? Statistics New Zealand has this information here: Civil Unions and Marriages (Provisional).