It’s all very exciting planning a wedding, but without following the legal requirements, you’ll end up with a brilliant party and no husband! New Zealand legal 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.
There are two ways to get married
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
A celebrant can marry you:
·at the time and location of your choice
·using your own vows – although you must say “I [name] take you [name] to be my legal [wife or husband].”
Get a marriage licence if you live in NZ
You can’t get married without a marriage licence
- One of you needs to 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:
- $173.70 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
- $122.60 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.
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$173.70 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
- o NZ$122.60 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 they’ll send to Births, Deaths and Marriages so your marriage can be registered. This is free.
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.