Marriage Requirements in Canada

The legal requirements for getting married in Canada...

Under the Solemnisation of Marriage Act, it is necessary to get a marriage licence or certificate before getting married. Marriage licences are provincial or territorial and it is necessary to apply to the relevant provincial/territorial municipal office or Department of Vital Statistics in order to get a marriage licence. The licence will only be valid in that province/territory, for example, an Ontario marriage licence is only valid in Ontario.

Requirements for Getting Married

Requirements vary according to the province or territory a person wishes to get married in. For example, in Ontario persons wanting to get married (without parental consent) must be at least 18 years old and in British Columbia they must be at least 19 years old. With parental consent (from both parents) it is possible to get married at 16 or 17 years.

In some provinces, written parental consent is required if any party wishing to get married is under 19 years. Under 16 year olds are generally not able to get married, but exceptions are made (in some provinces) if written parental permission is given, the bride is pregnant or is already a mother.

When applying for a marriage license or certificate, the following information is required:

  • The date the couple plan to marry
  • Proof of present marital status: (divorce decree if divorced, death certificate if widowed)
  • Proof of identification, often a birth certificate is required

Getting a Marriage Licence

Application forms for a marriage licence can be obtained from the local municipal offices or the relevant Department of Vital Statistics. It is also possible to download application forms from provincial or territorial Departments of Vital Statistics.

To get a marriage licence, it is usually necessary for both partners to go in person to the relevant municipal office and show any required identification and documents, at which point the couple generally pay a fee for the licence. Marriage licences are usually only valid for a limited time; for example, for three months from the purchase of the licence, although in some areas this may be as little as 30 days. In British Columbia, Newfoundland, Labrador and New Brunswick only one person is required to go to the licencing agent to complete the process of getting a marriage licence.

A marriage licence may not be required where a marriage is to take place in a church, mosque or synagogue. In these cases the couple may get married after a Publication of Banns. This is an announcement of the couple's intent to marry. Check with the local religious official for exact requirements.

Additional requirements

Other requirements exist, depending on which territory/province the marriage is due to take place in. For example in Ontario and Newfoundland, if a divorce has taken place outside the province, additional information and confirmation of the divorce is required, as marriage licences cannot be issued until a divorce is finalised. Immigration documents and details of parents are also sometimes required when applying for a marriage licence.

In the majority of provinces/territories a couple may be able to get married immediately after receiving the marriage licence. However, some provinces require a short waiting period between the application for the licence and getting married. The longest waiting periods are in Nova Scotia (5 days) and Quebec (20 days).

Provincial Departments of Vital Statistic deal with laws regarding the solemnisation of marriage. They are able to provide information about getting a marriage licence and any additional requirements.

For links to the relevant province/territorial Departments of Vital Statistics, see below: