Will your overseas
destination wedding be recognised in Australia?
(28/08/2019) | Categories:
| Wedding Legals |
Getting married in an exotic location
overseas is very romantic.
It can save you money, though it will always be much
more expensive for your guests.
But you need to tick quite a few boxes to make sure that
your marriage will be recognised in Australia.
When, as an Australian resident, you have a destination
wedding overseas, whether or not your marriage will be
recognised in Australia depends on a number of things:
- Did the ceremony create a legal marriage?
- Did the marriage meet all the requirements for
legal marriage in Australia?
- Was your marriage legally registered with
the local authorities?
- Do you have an official certificate that proves
your marriage was registered?
Making sure your overseas
marriage is legal
- Check whether you are legally able to marry in
the destination of your choice
While Australia's marriage laws are very
liberal, other jurisdictions can be much more
- who can marry who - for example many
jurisdictions forbid first cousin marriage.
- the age at which you can marry - a surprising
number of places have the minimum age for
marriage set higher than 18, the minimum legal
age (without court permission) in Australia
- how long after divorce or being widowed you
can remarry. Some countries have very different
restrictions for women compared to men
- same-sex marriage
- marriage between persons of different
- Ensure that you have all your paperwork in
Generally speaking, to marry abroad requires 3
types of paperwork
- official documentation to prove you are free to
- official documentation giving notice of your
intention to marry, which may include a marriage
- official proof of identity
- In addition
- you may require a special visa to enter the
country for the purpose of getting married
- you may be required obtain some of the
paperwork by attending an Australian Embassy in
- you may be required to undergo medical checks
locally and very close to your proposed wedding
date, including blood tests for HIV and STDs,
and X-rays to rule out tuberculosis.
- Ensure that the wedding you have booked is a
legal marriage ceremony and not just a symbolic
ceremony or blessing ceremony
- Ensure that you meet any residency requirements
- Many countries require one or both parties to be
resident in the country for a specified period of
time before the marriage can take place.
Making sure your overseas
marriage meets all requirements for legal marriage in
If one or both of you are domiciled in Australia at the
time of your marriage overseas, your marriage will only
be recognised if you both meet the requirements for
marriage in Australia.
- Both at least 18
- Not in a prohibited relationship (so neither of
you is a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, or
sibling of the other)
- Not married to any other person (including one
another) at the time of the marriage
- Both entering into the marriage of your own free
Making sure your overseas
marriage is registered with the local authorities
When you get back to Australia, to prove that you are
married you will need to be able to show an official
marriage certificate that is proof that your marriage
has been registered with the relevant authorities in the
country where you married.
In most countries, sending proof that the marriage was
solemnised is the responsibility of the authorised
person who officiated the ceremony. You will need to
find out what steps you have to take to obtain an
In some countries, the couple is required to attend a
local office, after the ceremony, to register the
marriage. This usually involves an additional fee.
Obtaining an official
Recognition of your marriage in Australia is very much
dependent on your ability to provide acceptable legal
proof that the marriage has taken place. This means an
official certificate. How long it may take for your
marriage to be registered, and what you need to do (and
pay) to obtain this certificate differs from country to
country. Some are very efficient. Some can take up to a
It is very likely that you will also require an
Apostille or Authentication of the certificate from the
government in the country in which you married.
This usually means dealing with a different government
department to that responsible for registering your
marriage, and there is a fee to obtain it.
An Apostille or Authentication, which depends on whether
that country is a signatory to the Hague Convention, is
proof that your certificate is genuine. You can
check that here
You don't need to register
your marriage back home in Australia
In fact you can't. As long as your marriage
overseas was a legal one, and you have a certificate to
prove it, you marriage will be recognised.
Changing your name
Because your marriage is not registered in Australia,
there will be no official record of it. So you cannot
change your name by marriage. You will need to apply for
a legal change of name, in the State or Territory in
which you were born. This will retrospectively change
your name on your birth record. If you were born
overseas, you will need to apply to Births, Deaths, and
Marriages in the State or Territory in which you live.
You will be issued a Change of Name certificate.