The Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation

 

Services › Births Deaths and Marriages › Overseas Relationships


Entering into a Marriage Overseas

If you want to enter into a marriage overseas:
  • You will need to find out what is required by the laws of the country in which you intend to have the ceremony; and
  • You will need to make the arrangements yourself.
If the country where you are entering into a marriage requires it, Births, Deaths and Marriages can issue a 'Certificate of No Impediment' showing that a search of the registers has found no lawful impediment to the marriage.

Your marriage should be registered in the country where it took/will take place. There is no legal obligation to have your overseas marriage registered in New Zealand. Overseas marriages are not able, by law, to be registered in New Zealand unless an officer from a New Zealand Embassy or High Commission attends the marriage ceremony.

If you have married overseas and wish to confirm that your overseas marriage is valid in New Zealand you may apply to the Family Court for a declaration as to the validity of the marriage. Contact a lawyer to discuss whether it is necessary to obtain a declaration.
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Certificate of No Impediment to a Marriage

If the country where you are entering into a marriage requires it, Births, Deaths and Marriages can issue a 'Certificate of No Impediment' showing that a search of the registers has found no lawful impediment to the marriage. There is a fee for this service. Please contact us with the details of the country in which you will be entering into a marriage for the relevant fee.

To get a Certificate of No Impediment to a marriage you will need to complete the form Notice of Intended Marriage of New Zealand Citizen in Another Country (BDM 189) and send it to Births, Deaths and Marriages with the appropriate fee.

If both parties to the marriage need a Certificate of No Impediment (for example, if both have lived in New Zealand), a separate form must be completed by each party and a separate fee paid.

If you have been previously married or in a civil union (including if you have had a previous marriage or civil union dissolved outside of New Zealand) you will also need to send a copy of your Order of Dissolution (or Divorce). Do not send the original version of the Order.

If you were not born in New Zealand, and if you have been granted New Zealand citizenship, you will also need to send a copy of your citizenship certificate.

A Certificate of No Impediment to an intended marriage will not be issued less than 14 days from the date of receipt of the application. If your certificate requires legalisation you should allow six weeks for processing.

For marriages in some countries the Certificate of No Impediment must be endorsed by the representative of that country in Wellington before despatch. The fee for this service is in addition to the fee for the certificate. The endorsement may be arranged on your behalf by Births, Deaths and Marriages. Please contact us with the details of the country in which you will be entering into a marriage for the relevant fee. Additional time of at least two weeks or more should be allowed for the endorsement.

If you require any further information please contact us.
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Entering into a Civil Union Overseas

Is the Overseas Relationship a Marriage or a Civil Union in New Zealand?
An overseas civil union is one that is compatible with New Zealand's Civil Union Act 2004, and recognised under regulations made under that Act. In New Zealand, a civil union may be entered into by couples of the same sex or by couples of different sexes.

Some countries refer to marriages as "civil marriages". These are not a form of civil unions as established by the Civil Union Act 2004 in New Zealand. If you are entering into a civil marriage and require a Certificate of No Impediment, please refer to the information under the marriage section.

If you want to enter into a civil union overseas:
  • You will need to find out what is required by the laws of the country in which you intend to have the ceremony; and
  • You will need to make the arrangements yourself.
If the country where you are entering into a civil union requires it, Births, Deaths and Marriages can issue a 'Certificate of No Impediment' showing that a search of the registers has found no lawful impediment to the civil union. Births, Deaths and Marriages does not undertake any assessment as to whether the civil union you intend to enter into would meet the legal requirements of the country you are intending to have the civil union performed in.

If you enter into a civil union outside of New Zealand your relationship may be recognised as a civil union in New Zealand only if it is of a type listed as such in regulations made under the Civil Union Act 2004.


Certificate of No Impediment to a Civil Union

If the country where you are entering into a civil union requires it, Births, Deaths and Marriages can issue a 'Certificate of No Impediment' showing that a search of the registers has found no lawful impediment to the civil union. There is a fee for this service. Please contact us with the details of the country in which you will be entering into a civil union for the relevant fee.

To get a Certificate of No Impediment to a civil union you will need to complete the form Application for a Certificate of No Impediment to Civil Union in Another Country or Jurisdiction (BDM 389) and send it to Births, Deaths and Marriages with the appropriate fee.

If both partners need a Certificate of No Impediment (for example, if both have lived in New Zealand), a separate form must be completed by each partner and a separate fee paid.

If you have been previously married or in a civil union (including if you have had a previous marriage or civil union dissolved outside of New Zealand) you will also need to send a copy of your Order of Dissolution (or Divorce). Do not send the original version of the Order.

A Certificate of No Impediment to an intended civil union will not be issued less than 14 days from the date of receipt of the application. If your certificate requires legalisation you should allow six weeks for processing.

For civil unions in some countries the Certificate of No Impediment must be endorsed by the representative of that country in Wellington before despatch. The fee for this service is in addition to the fee for the certificate. The endorsement may be arranged on your behalf by Births, Deaths and Marriages. Please contact us with the details of the country in which you will be entering into a civil union for the relevant fee. Additional time of at least two weeks or more should be allowed for the endorsement.

If you require any further information please contact us.
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Recognition of an Overseas Relationship in New Zealand

Recognition of an Overseas Marriage in New Zealand

Your marriage should be registered in the country where it took/will take place.


There is no legal obligation to register your overseas marriage in New Zealand. However, you may do this if your marriage ceremony is witnessed by an authorised official from a New Zealand overseas post (i.e. a New Zealand Embassy or High Commission). There is a fee for this service. Consideration will usually be given only to marriages in cities where there is a New Zealand overseas post and then will depend on their availability of resources. You should contact the nearest New Zealand overseas post in the country where you plan to marry to determine whether they are able to provide this service. The contact details for New Zealand overseas posts can be located from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

One advantage of registering your marriage in New Zealand is that a marriage certificate can be issued to you from New Zealand. However, this certificate does not replace the marriage certificate supplied in the country where you were married.

If for any reason you wish to confirm that your overseas marriage is valid in New Zealand you may apply to the Family Court for a declaration as to the validity of the marriage. Contact a lawyer to discuss whether it is necessary to obtain a declaration.
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Recognition of an Overseas Civil Union in New Zealand

If you have entered in to one of the relationships listed in the Civil Union (Recognised Overseas Relationships) Regulations 2005, your relationship will be recognised as a civil union in New Zealand.

If you are in a type of registered relationship that is not listed in the Civil Union (Recognised Overseas Relationships) Regulations 2005, you may be recognised as being in a de facto relationship in New Zealand, or else you may need to enter into a civil union (or marriage, where available) in New Zealand. If you choose to enter into a civil union or marriage in New Zealand, you should check what the impact is of doing so on your existing overseas relationship (e.g. whether it may be considered as bigamy in that other country).

There is no provision in the Civil Union Act 2004 to allow a civil union solemnised overseas to be registered in New Zealand. If it is legally recognised in New Zealand, the certificate issued in the other country can be used as evidence of that relationship.

We also recommend that you seek independent legal advice, to check any other impacts of entering a civil union or marriage in New Zealand has on your existing overseas relationship.

The five types of registered relationships currently prescribed by the Civil Union (Recognised Overseas Relationships) Regulations 2005 are:
  • Registered partnership (Finland)
  • Life partnership (Germany)
  • Civil partnership (United Kingdom)
  • Domestic partnership (New Jersey, USA)
  • Civil Union (Vermont, USA)
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