Legal Requirements for Marriage in Australia

Anyone who is eligible* to marry may do so in Australia. Unfortunately at this time, same sex couples cannot be legally married here.

*To be eligible to marry in Australia you must be over the age of 18, not already lawfully married or in a prohibited relationship. This means you cannot be too closely related to each other.

Tourists often choose to marry in this wonderful country as we have the most liberal legal choices available as far as wording, venue and time. If you are applying to stay in Australia, see Legal Implications for Foreigners Marrying in Australia.

Jane Gillespie

A Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) must be lodged with your Celebrant a minimum of one month prior to the date of your wedding. This is valid for eighteen months.

There are FOUR pages to the Notice of Intended Marriage, including details on how to complete it. It is important that you read and follow the instructions carefully. It is preferable for you to print pages 3 and 4 on both sides of ONE sheet of paper.

Documents required when lodging a Notice of Intended Marriage:

Original Birth Certificate or Passport. Passports can be expired but not cancelled. If you don’t have a passport and your birth certificate has been lost or destroyed and you genuinely cannot obtain a new one, you may fill in a Statutory Declaration. I can assist you with this.

Divorce or Death Certificate. If you are divorced or widowed you must provide proof of how your previous marriage ended.

NB: All documents in a foreign language must be translated into English by an approved translator. You can find a translator here

Age Requirements

Both a Court Order and parents’ consent are required when either the Bride or the Groom is under 18 years of age. Under no circumstances may two people under the age of 18 marry each other.

Witnesses

Two people over the age of 18 are required to witness your marriage and sign the Marriage Register and Certificates.

The Ceremony

While there are many optional components that you can choose to include in your wedding ceremony, there are a few things that are not negotiable. Your celebrant must introduce him/herself and state that they are authorised to solemnise marriage in Australia. They must also say the following:

The Monitum:

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are about to enter.  Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.” OR WORDS TO THAT EFFECT. *

* Slight changes may be made to the above wording but the meaning must remain the same.  The Attorney-General advises that the safest course is for a Civil Marriage Celebrant to always use the words as they appear in the Marriage Act.

Legal Vows:

Although you may lengthen the legal vows to include personal promises that you wish to make to each, you must each say the following words:

“I call upon the people here present to witness that I, AB/CD, take you, CD/AB, to be my lawful wedded wife/husband.” You may leave out lawful or wedded but not both; you must use one of these words.

Both the Monitum and the Legal Vows MUST be spoken at your ceremony otherwise your marriage may not be valid.

Legal Implications for Foreigners Marrying in Australia

Australian residents can bring a partner to Australia on a Fiancé or Prospective Spouse Visa. You are required to lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage (NIM) with an Authorised Marriage Celebrant within the minimum one month of your nominated date of marriage. The date nominated for your wedding can be changed if the visa is not granted in time – your NIM is valid for 18 months. The Celebrant will issue you with a letter addressed to the appropriate Australian Embassy handling the applicant’s case, confirming that she has received that Notice, the date and location of the wedding and that you have paid a non-refundable deposit. Your partner lodges this letter with their visa application at the embassy in the country from where they are applying.

Important advice about migration

Marriage and Immigration

Australia’s immigration laws offer visas to foreigners who are in relationships with Australians. However, the rules are very complex.

You must seek legal advice about your personal circumstances. Only an experienced immigration lawyer or agent is qualified to give you the correct advice about whether marriage will help your application or not.

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