Australian Legal Requirements for Marriage
Definition of Marriage/Who May Marry and Where and When
According to the Marriage Act 1961, as amended in December 2017 to allow same sex couples to marry, marriage now is
“the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.
So finally, hallujah! same sex couples may marry. You may marry when you reach the age of 18 years. If either of you is between 16-18, you will require parental permission and also judicial dispensation, eg you must apply to a Judge or Magistrate for dispensation to marry. (Ask me about the procedure if this applies to you) If both of you are under 18, you may not marry.
If you are in what is termed a prohibited relationship you may not marry, eg you cannot marry anyone who is a direct ancestor or descendant. This applies also to adoptive parents/children.
Marriages can be solemnised on any day, at any time and at any place, provided the marriage takes place within Australia or Australian territorial waters.
Steps to Getting Married
1. The first step is for you to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) no sooner than 18 months and no later than one calendar month before the date of your intended marriage.
(In exceptional circumstances this time can be shortened by application to a Judge/Magistrate). NB: Exceptional circumstances are limited, ask me if this might apply to you.
2. If you live locally, or are coming here to finalise venues and or other arrangements for your wedding, and the date of your marriage is at least a month ahead, then you can bring this form to me and we can complete it together and I can witness your signatures. Please note when filling out pages 3 and 4 that these need to be completed using BLACK INK and filled out carefully, referring to birth certificates to ensure that all details, including spelling of names correspond. A common mistake many couples make relates to recording their mothers’ name – you need to put first, middle and Maiden names.
If living interstate or further afield, then once completed, your signatures on the NOIM must be witnessed by any of the prescribed authorities listed on the back of the form, eg
a. An authorised marriage celebrant
b. A Commissioner for Declarations under the Statutory Declarations Act 1959,
c. A Justice of the Peace,
d. A Barrister or Solicitor;
e. A legally qualified Medical Practitioner;
f. A member of the Australian Federal Police or the police force of a State or Territory
Please note regarding the witnessing authorities that other professionals (such as a Pharmacist, Chiropractor or Dentist are not legally qualified witnesses for this form).
3. When completed and witnessed, please either scan and e-mail me a copy of the NOIM, together with a copy of your identifying documents, Sometime prior to the date of the marriage, I will need to sight original documents, so please ensure that you bring them with you as the law requires that I sight original documents before I can marry you. The pre-wedding meeting is a good time to do this: The following documents are optionally required:
Australian Nationals –
• The original NOIM, if not already lodged
• Both Original Birth Certificates and photo ID or Passports
• Consents, parental or judicial – as appropriate
• Decrees of dissolution of previous marriages – as appropriate
• Death certificate of a previous spouse – as appropriate
• Any certificate regarding a legal name change
Overseas Nationals –
Foreign nationals may marry in Australia – provided they satisfy the normal criteria in the Notice of intended Marriage Form. NB: Foreign nationals need to check with Authorities in their own countries, as some overseas countries do not recognise a marriage entered into in Australia as valid. The UK and most European countries do recognize marriages taking place in Australia. Some European countries also require a special stamp on the Marriage Certificate – an Apostile Stamp, I can assist with this. NB: When completing the NOIM overseas, the only prescribed authorities for witnessing your signature are: A Notary Public or officer of an Australian Embassy or Diplomatic Service. The following documents are optionally required.
• The original NOIM, if not already lodged.
• Birth certificates OR Overseas passport – for foreign nationals
• Decrees of Dissolution/Death certificates of a previous spouse/Certificates of name change.
• Any documents not in English will require verified legal translations and you will need to bring originals of both with you.
• NB: the Notice of Intended Marriage can only be witnessed by an Australian Embassy Staff member or a Notary Public in your country.
4. Statutory Declaration: Before your marry, you will need to sign a Statement of No Legal Impediment to Marriage that there are no reasons why you should not marry and that the information you have provided to me is true and correct. The pre-wedding meeting is also a good time to do this. I will provide this document.
5. You will need to nominate two witnesses to your marriage – both must be over the age of 18, but can be family members. For legal purposes their full legal names are required, eg first, middle and surname.
On the Day –
You need to state in front of your witnesses (two at a minimum) that you take each other as your legal husband/wife/spouse.
When you are pronounced to be married, you both need to sign two copies of the Marriage Certificate and a Couples Certificate, which are co-signed by your two witnesses and also signed by your Celebrant. One copy of the Marriage Certificate is registered with the local Authority – in Queensland this is the Register-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for Queensland, one is retained by me as a record and the Couples Certificate is yours as a permanent keepsake.
Official Certificate of Marriage: Although the souvenir Couples Certificate is a legal document, it is not recognised by most authorities as proof of marriage. You will need your Official Certificate for this.
Births, Deaths and Marriages have now introduced online Marriage Registration. I will register your marriage online and provide BDM with your contact details. You will be contacted by email asking if you wish to have a copy of your Marriage Certificate. You will have the option to have a standard Certificate or a Commemorative package, which includes a standard Certificate. The relevant costs will be explained in the contact email. Once you have confirmed your details and paid the fee, you should receive the Official Certificate within days.