It’s all very exciting planning your wedding, but without following the legalities of marrying in New Zealand, you’ll end up with a brilliant party and no husband! NZ requirements are fairly simple, the key element being arranging a marriage licence between 3 days and 3 months in advance; and registering the marriage after the ceremony.
Who can get married in New Zealand?
Anyone can marry in New Zealand, as long as they’re not:
- already married or in a civil union (unless you’re changing your relationship with the same person)
- under 16 (and you need your parents’ consent if you’re 16 or 17)
- closely related by birth, marriage or adoption.
Of course, it’s legal for lesbian and gay couples to marry in New Zealand, making it an attractive destination wedding for international couples, especially from Australia.
There are two ways to get married in New Zealand, of which you must decide on prior to applying for your marriage certificate.
1. Get married at a registry office
A registry office wedding:
·takes place in normal office hours
·isn’t open to the public – you’ll need to bring 2 witnesses
·uses standard wedding vows – you can’t write your own.
2. Get married by an approved marriage celebrant
An approved, registered celebrant can marry you:
·at the time and location of your choice, anywhere in New Zealand (this is not the case in many other countries, including the UK)
·using your own vows – although you must say “I [name] take you [name] to be my legal [wife or husband].”
Once you have arranged for a marriage celebrant or choose a registry office to get married in, and organised where you will get married, you can apply for your marriage licence. Note, you can only get married at the venue you write on the marriage licence application form, so you may wish to include a back-up wedding venue.
If you’ve been married and divorced previously, you’ll also need a copy of the marriage dissolution order.
Get a marriage licence if you live in NZ
You can not get married without a marriage licence
- Only one of you needs to apply – take the notice to your local Registrar of Marriages in person so they can witness you signing the declaration
- If you’ve been married before, bring a copy of your dissolution of marriage order.
- Find your local Registrar of Marriages by calling 0800 22 52 52 (or +64 4 463 9362 from overseas).
Pay when you hand in your form. It costs:
- $240 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
- $150 if you’re getting married by a celebrant (the celebrant costs extra – you’ll pay them directly).
- $26.50 for a marriage certificate
Your licence will take at least 3 working days to be issued. It’s valid for 3 months. Therefore, you must apply between 3 months and 3 days of your wedding.
Getting a marriage licence if you both live outside NZ
If you’re coming to NZ to get married, you need to organise a marriage licence before you get here.
1. Complete a notice of intended marriage where parties are ordinarily resident outside New Zealand form
2. Don’t sign the declaration.
3. Send it, with your payment, to the registry office closest to where you plan to get married. It costs:
- o NZ$240 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
- o NZ$150 if you’re getting married by a celebrant (the celebrant costs extra – you’ll pay them directly).
4. When you arrive in NZ, visit the office to sign the declaration and pick up your marriage licence.
You can also take your completed form to a commonwealth representative in your country (eg a high commissioner or ambassador) and sign the declaration in front of them before you post it.
Register your marriage
After the ceremony, your celebrant will get you to sign two copies of a form – one for you to keep and one which they will send to Births, Deaths and Marriages to register your marriage.
A civil union
The process for getting a civil union is the same as for getting married, but the forms are different. You’ll still need to:
·go to a registry office or find a celebrant
·get a licence
·have your civil union registered by your celebrant.
Change your civil union to a marriage or your marriage to a civil union
If you’re already in a civil union (that’s recognised in New Zealand) and would like to change it to a marriage, or vice versa, you need to follow all the steps above – but you’ll complete a different form when you apply for your licence. You’ll also need to provide evidence of your current relationship. The usual marriage and civil union fees and processes will apply.
Changing your name:
In New Zealand, once you are legally married, you can also legally use the name of your spouse. You don’t have to do anything particular to register your new married name, but you are likely to need a copy of your Marriage Certificate to change your name at banks and government agencies. Be careful when booking your honeymoon and any future international travel, because though your legal name will be both your maiden, and married name, you can only travel on the name recorded in your passport.
To change your name to your married name on your drivers licence or passport, you will have to apply for a new licence or new passport with the marriage certificate.
Head to the wedding planning page for an index of our content. If you haven’t already seen our wedding organiser and diary, take a little look at the little white book and once you’re married, get your hands on I still do wedding anniversary journal.