In order for a marriage to be legal in Australia, your celebrant is required to sight certain documents before your marriage can take place. There are several key pieces of information that must be provided which are (i) the date and place of birth of both parties and (ii) proof of identity of both parties. The documents which are commonly produced by both parties to meet these requirements are an original birth certificate or an original birth extract and a driver’s licence or a passport.
There may be other circumstances which require additional documentation to be produced and examples of these are listed below also.
♥ Original birth certificate or original birth extract
This document provides evidence of your date and place of birth according to the register kept by Births Deaths & Marriages. It also notes the details (where they have been provided) of your parents’ names and place/s of birth. This is the prima facie piece of evidence that most couples provide when completing a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM). As your celebrant, I will provide you with this form and complete it with you (unless you live interstate or overseas, in which case I will ask you to complete the form and supply copies of your relevant documents and email them to me initially and then produce the originals when we meet.) Here is the link to the NOIM.
If one or both parties do not have an original birth certificate or original birth extract, they have the option of producing an Australian or foreign passport instead. If you are an Australian citizen and you do not have a passport, you will be required to obtain an original copy of your birth certificate from Births Deaths & Marriages in the capital city of the State or Territory where you were born.
If you need to order an original copy of your birth certificate, here is the link to the application form and styles of commemorative birth certificate available to those who were born in NSW.
Here is the link to the application form for those who were born in Queensland. Here is the link to the styles of commemorative birth certificate available to those who were born in Queensland.
Birth certificates must be written in English or, if not, a translation by a NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd.) translator must be provided to the celebrant. Here is the link to the NAATI website or you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone them on 1300 557-470.
Foreign nationals are able to produce their passport as evidence of their date and place of birth as well as their identity. It has only been since July 2014 that Australian citizens have been able to produce a passport (in lieu of an original birth certificate or original birth extract) as evidence of their date and place of birth as well as their identity. It is, of course, preferable that the passport is current but, if it has expired, the photo must strongly resembles the person stating ownership of the passport. If the passport has been cancelled, it cannot be accepted as evidence of date and place of birth and/or identity.
The passport must be written in English or, if not, a translation by a NAATI accredited translator must be provided (refer above link).
♥ Driver’s Licence
This document can be produced as evidence of identity and is the prima facie piece of evidence that most couples provide when completing a Notice of Intended Marriage document with their celebrant. The photo on this document must strongly resemble the person stating ownership of the licence. This document also provides further confirmation of date of birth and address details.
♥ Proof of Age/Photo Card
This document can be produced as evidence of identity. The photo on this document must strongly resemble the person stating ownership of the card.
♥ Certificate of Australian Citizenship
This documented can be produced as evidence of identity as long as it is accompanied by photo identification in the same name such as a driver’s licence, proof of age card or an Australian or overseas passport. The photo on these documents must strongly resemble the person stating ownership of the card or passport.
Balance of Forms
Once the NOIM has been completed and the necessary documents sighted, you will/may (depending on the circumstances) be asked to sign/provide other documents as follows:
♥ Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage
Shortly before your marriage (whenever practical, but usually one or two weeks beforehand), I will meet with you so that you can sign a Declaration of No Legal Impediment to Marriage which states that there is no legal reason why you and your partner are not able to marry (i.e. you are not in a prohibited relationship such as brother/sister and you are free to marry e.g. you are not waiting to receive your final divorce papers.) Your wedding rehearsal is usually a convenient time for this to occur. As your celebrant, I will supply you with this form and witness your signatures.
♥ Certificates of Marriage
I will supply three Certificates of Marriage which you, your two witnesses over the age of 18 and I will sign on your wedding day.
(i) A Certificate of Marriage known as the couple’s certificate. This is a decorative certificate which, as your celebrant, I will present to someone you nominate on your wedding day to hold onto safely for you.
(ii) An official Certificate of Marriage which, as your celebrant, I will send online (for marriages which occur in NSW) or via mail (for marriages which occur in other States) to Births Deaths & Marriages. This is one of the documents that will enable your marriage to be registered in Australia.
(iii) A Certificate of Marriage in my marriage register. Each Celebrant is required to keep this record for a minimum of 6 years.
♥ Where one or both parties are not yet 18
Both parties to a marriage must be at least 18 years of age when they marry, although a NOIM may be lodged prior to one or both parties turning 18. Only a Judge empowered to give a “section 12” order can give authority for a marriage to occur if one of the parties is at least 16 but not yet 18. Here is a link to the application form. In addition to the court order, it is usually necessary for the party who is under 18 to also obtain the consent of any person whose consent to the marriage is required (usually their parents). Note: the marriage must occur within 3 months of the court order being made. If both parties are not yet 18, they are legally unable to marry.
♥ Previous marriage
If divorced, one or both (if relevant) parties are required to provide me, as their celebrant, with the original of their Decree Absolute (Final Divorce) record. If there has been more than one previous marriage, only the most recent Final Divorce record is required. A NOIM can be completed if the Final Divorce record is not yet in your possession but you will need to ensure you have allowed enough time for this to occur prior to your proposed wedding date. If the bride is a widow or the groom is a widower, they are required to provide me, as their celebrant, with the original of the death certificate of their spouse. If their previous marriage was declared null, they are required to provide evidence of nullity.
If your divorce was finalised after 12.2.10 and you were a party to the proceedings, you can obtain your Final Divorce record for FREE by following this link: //eservices.comcourts.gov.au/ Note: Under “Proof of Divorce”, click “Apply online”. You will need to register, link yourself to your file and then login, go to your file, select Divorce > Court Events and Orders > View Orders.
If your divorce was finalised prior to 13.2.10, you can obtain your Final Divorce record through any Family Law Court at a cost of $30.
♥ Statutory Declaration
The Marriage Act 1961 requires or permits a statutory declaration to be made in a number of cases.This form is to be used for all statutory declarations relating to any marriage ceremony conducted by any authorised celebrant.
If one or both parties are unable to provide information or documentation in order to make the NOIM effective, they should provide the authorised celebrant with a statutory declaration as to his or her inability to ascertain the particulars not included in the NOIM, and the reasons for that inability, before the marriage is solemnised.
An example of where this situation may, conceivably, occur is where someone does not have a passport or birth certificate (e.g. they were born in a refugee camp and did not receive a birth certificate.) In such circumstances, a declaration could be made by the party or a parent of the party stating that, for reasons specified in the declaration, it is impracticable to obtain such a certificate or extract and stating, to the best of the declarant’s knowledge and belief and as accurately as the declarant has been able to ascertain, when and where the party was born. Note: It is almost always possible for an Australian citizen to obtain a copy of their original birth certificate so, for example, if they do not have a passport, the absence of a birth certificate would not be sufficient reason to supply a Statutory Declaration as proof of date and place of birth. If it is impracticable (this does not mean practical or convenient; it means impossible) for you to provide a birth certificate, I am able to supply you with a copy of the form you will need to complete. Here is the link to the standard form you will need to complete should you be unable to supply other information requested on the NOIM.
Where it is considered that one or both parties do not understand the English language sufficiently, you will be required by law to obtain the services of an interpreter, not being a party to the marriage, in or in connection with the ceremony, in order that the person/s who are being married understand the vows they are making. The interpreter must be able to meet the requirements set out in section 112 of the Marriage Act and complete a form entitled Certificate of Faithful Performance By Interpreter and hand this to the celebrant after the ceremony. Here is a link to the form.
To make contact with an interpreter from NAATI (National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters Ltd.), here is the link to their website //www.naati.com.au/get-in-touch/get-in-touch/ or you can email them at email@example.com or phone them on 1300 557-470.
It is important that your celebrant checks the spelling of all names on the documents provided and makes further enquiries if there is any discrepancy. The name registered on an original birth certificate is the name which must be used on all official marriage documents for anyone who has not been married before, even if the person is known by another name or if their name is commonly spelt differently. If the bride-to-be has been married before, the name which must be used on all official marriage documents is the name she currently uses, whether that is the surname she used while she was married or her birth surname if she reverted to that.
Your celebrant must be confident that the documents you have provided are originals and that they represent you accurately. Where there is any doubt, you may be asked to provide further documentary evidence to strengthen the chain of evidence and satisfy the legal requirements set out in The Marriage Act 1961.
The foregoing is provided as general information only. If you have any queries or, in the case of a lack of evidentiary documentation or a situation outside the examples outlined above, it is recommended that you seek further advice for your specific situation from your celebrant or Births Deaths & Marriages.
012 – 28/12/2014