Will your overseas destination wedding be recognised in Australia?

by Jennifer Cram Brisbane Marriage Celebrant  © (28/08/2019)
Categories:  | Wedding Legals |
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                    "Your overseas destination wedding. Recognised
                    in Australia?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?

How to ensure 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 restrictive about
    • 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 religions

  • Ensure that you have all your paperwork in order
    Generally speaking, to marry abroad requires 3 types of paperwork
    • official documentation to prove you are free to marry
    • official documentation giving notice of your intention to marry, which may include a marriage licence
    • 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 country.
    • 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 ceremony 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.

Ensuring your overseas marriage meets all requirements for legal marriage in Australia

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.
  • You must both be at least 18 years of age on the day of the ceremony
  • You must not be in a prohibited relationship (which means that you are not closely related by blood or adoption. Neither of you can be a sibling, an ancestor, eg parent or grandparent or a descendant, eg child or grandchild, of the other
  • You are not married to any other person (including one another) at the time of the marriage
  • Both of you are entering into the marriage of your own free will

Ensuring your overseas marriage is registered with the local authorities

To prove that you are legally married when you get back to Australia, 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 to the authorities that register marriages that the marriage was solemnised is the responsibility of the authorised person who officiated the ceremony. In some countries. You will need to find out what steps you have to take to obtain an official certificate.

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 certificate

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 year!

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 do a name change by marriage, as you can when you marry in Australia.. 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.

Thanks for reading!

Jenny xxx Let's talk
                        soon about how you can have the best ceremony
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