Marriage overseas

8 years ago

Neither DFAT nor its missions overseas can advise on other countries’ specific requirements for Australians to get married overseas. For details of marriage requirements you should contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country in which you would like to marry for their advice. However, as a general guide only, the following information may be of assistance.

Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage

If you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident wishing to marry overseas, the foreign government may request that you have a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) issued. DFAT in Australia can issue a CNI, however many foreign governments will only accept CNIs issued by the Australian mission (embassy or consulate) within their country. If you are getting married overseas you will need to confirm with the foreign government:

  • Whether or not the CNI is required;
  • Where it should be issued (ie in Australia or through an Australian mission overseas);
  • If it needs any additional legalisation (authentication or apostille) and
  • If you require a ‘Single Status Certificate’ or ‘No Record Result’ (please note, these are not issued by DFAT, they are issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages in your state or territory).

If you confirm that the foreign government will accept a Certificate of No Impediment issued from within Australia, follow the instructions on our Legalising documents page.

Issue of Certificates of No Impediment to same sex couples

Australians seeking to enter into a same-sex marriage overseas can apply for a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage. The issuing of a Certificate of No Impediment will allow same-sex couples to take part in a marriage ceremony overseas and to be recognised as being married according to the laws of that overseas country. Same-sex marriages conducted overseas are not recognised as a marriage in Australia, but may be evidence of a de facto relationship for the purposes of Commonwealth, State and Territory laws.

General advice

For exact details of what requirements will need to be met in order for a marriage to be legal in a particular country, persons wishing to marry overseas should contact the embassy or consulate of the country in which they would like to marry. The following general information may also be of assistance.

  • Overseas marriage authorities often require further evidence that the party is free to marry. Such evidence may be a statement from the Australian State or Territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages that there is no record of the person having been previously married or a ‘Single Status Certificate’ or ‘No Records Result’ as indicated above.
  • Authorities may also require divorce papers/death certificate of a former spouse in the case of being divorced or widowed.
  • Overseas marriage authorities generally will also want to sight an original birth certificate and the person’s passport.
  • Foreign marriage authorities may have further additional requirements e.g. a requirement to reside for a length of time in a country prior to a marriage taking place in that country.

Recognition of overseas marriages

The Attorney-General’s Department has responsibility for developing policy about issues relating to family law and marriage, including who can get married, who can solemenise marriages and the validity of overseas marriages. The rules governing whether or not a marriage is valid under Australian law are to be found in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).

There are currently no Australian diplomatic or consular officers appointed to solemenise marriages overseas under Australian law.

Marriages entered into overseas are generally recognised as valid in Australia

  • if the marriage was recognised as valid under the law of the country in which it was entered into, at the time when it was entered into, and
  • providing the marriage would have been recognised as valid under Australian law if the marriage had taken place in Australia.

There is no requirement to register a marriage in Australia which takes place overseas. The foreign marriage certificate is prima facie evidence in Australia of the occurrence and validity of the marriage in that country.

Marriage to an Australian citizen does not automatically guarantee entry of a citizen of another country to Australia. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection can advise on immigration to Australia.

You should consult a legal practitioner if you need advice on whether a marriage which has taken place overseas is recognised as valid in Australia.

The basic rule of foreign marriages generally being recognised as valid in Australia is subject to the following exceptions:

  • where one of the parties was already married to someone else;
  • where one of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in Australia and either of the parties was not 18 years old;
  • where neither of the parties was, at the time of marriage, domiciled in Australia, the marriage shall not be recognised as valid in Australia until one of the parties is 16 years old;
  • where the parties are too closely related under Australian law (including relationships traced through adoption or an adoption that has ceased to have effect) i.e. either as ancestor and descendant, or as brother and sister (including half-brother and half-sister);
  • where the parties to the marriage are both of the same sex, or;
  • where the consent of one of the parties was not real consent due to duress or fraud, a mistake as to the identity of the other party or as to the nature of the ceremony performed, or mental incapacity.

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