Marriage overseas

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade cannot advise on the specific requirements which may need to be met in order for a marriage to be legal in a particular country. However, as a general guide only, the following information may be of assistance.

Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage

Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage are issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through overseas missions and state and territory offices to Australian citizens seeking to marry overseas. Some foreign countries require foreign nationals to present a Certificate of No Impediment before they are able to legally marry in that country. Certificates of No Impediment to Marriage are not a requirement of Australian law.

Some countries will only accept Certificates of No Impediment issued by the local Australian Embassy or Consulate in the country in which the marriage is to take place. However, if authorities of the country in which the marriage is to take place have advised that they will accept a Certificate of No Impediment issued in Australia, you should complete the applicable application form for a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage and return it to your state or territory office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Consular fee for a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage is $90.

The forms are also available from any state or territory office of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Please ensure that you bring your passport when presenting the Certificate of No Impediment to be witnessed by us. We may need to sight documentary evidence of your date of birth, nationality and Australian residency.

Issue of Certificates of No Impediment to same sex couples

The Attorney-General has announced that from 1 February 2012 Australians seeking to enter into a same-sex marriage overseas will be able to 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

In addition to the Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can provide general advice on the requirements which may need to be met in order for a marriage to be legal in a particular country. For exact details of what requirements will need to be met, 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 be of assistance.

Overseas marriage authorities often require 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. 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.

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.

Where can I return my application form?