How To Get Married In British Columbia
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Eligibility Requirements to Marry in British Columbia
You do not have to be a resident of British Columbia to be married in the province. However, you are required to obtain a Marriage Licence which is valid only in British Columbia for a three month period.
Anyone over 19 years of age is eligible to apply for a marriage licence in British Columbia. Anyone under 19 years of age must first obtain the consent of both parents. Click here (PDF 174K) for the consent form or obtain the form from a local Marriage Licence Issuer. No one under 16 years of age can be married without the consent of the Supreme Court.
If one or both of the individuals getting married were recently divorced, no licence will be issued until a divorce has been finalized and proof provided. This will normally occur 31 days after the divorce decree is issued by the Courts.
Under British Columbia legislation, blood tests are not required to get married.
Applying for a Marriage Licence
Only one member of the couple is required to apply in person for a marriage licence. Click here for locations of Marriage Licence Issuers.
The current fee for a Marriage Licence is $100.00 and must be paid at the time of application. To ensure accuracy of marriage certificates issued after registration and to verify legal age to apply for a marriage licence, primary identification in the form of a Birth Certificate, IMM/Immigration form, Permanent Resident or Citizenship card confirming 1) full legal names 2) birth date 3) place of birth should be provided for both parties. You will also be asked to provide information on your current marital status and address.
In exceptional circumstances, other documents may be accepted, such as a drivers licence or passport.
The Marriage Licence is issued at the time of application, is non-refundable, and may not be extended beyond three months. However, if a Marriage License is lost a replacement may be obtained from the original place of purchase.
Arranging the Marriage Ceremony
In British Columbia, couples can choose a religious or civil ceremony, which must be witnessed by two people.
To arrange a religious ceremony, you can choose a religious representative who must be registered with the Vital Statistics Agency, under the Marriage Act. Civil ceremonies are performed by Marriage Commissioners, who are private citizens appointed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Vital Statistics Agency. To view a selection of Marriage Commissioners in your area, click here.
If you plan to have a civil ceremony, contact and book a Marriage Commissioner as soon as possible once you have established your wedding date. Make sure you provide the necessary information that will allow the Marriage Commissioner to determine their availability and calculate an accurate estimate of the required fees. Some of the areas you will need to consider include the date and time of your wedding ceremony, the location, number of guests and people in the wedding party plus any special wardrobe or other requests.
Click here (PDF 278K) to view the approved wedding ceremony for your use. Any changes should be discussed with your Marriage Commissioner. Please note that the bolded text is mandatory for all civil ceremonies in British Columbia.
Couples are responsible for securing a location and the necessary witnesses for their ceremony including obtaining any permits or licences for the use of public or private facilities.
Marriage Commissioner Fees
Marriage Commissioners are authorized to charge the following fees for solemnizing a marriage:
- Base Civil Ceremony
$25 per hour, applied in 15 minute increments for time spent preparing the ceremony, meeting, rehearsal, travel time and performing the ceremony. (Additional fees apply only to time over and above one hour which is included in the base ceremony fee.)
- Mileage $0.52 per kilometre
- Parking or Ferry (if applicable)
Marriage Commissioners will ask for all fees and provide a receipt prior to the marriage ceremony to avoid interruptions before or after the ceremony. However, the couple getting married will be responsible for any additional costs incurred due to any last minute changes.
* The base civil ceremony fee of $78.75 applies to civil marriage ceremonies which are organized and performed within one hour.
Please note that Marriage Commissioners are not authorized to provide wedding planning, coordinating or consultation services, which are provided by commercial vendors.
Registering the Marriage
The Marriage Commissioner or religious representative who performed the wedding ceremony will help you complete the Marriage Registration Form. Within 48 hours of the wedding ceremony, the form will be sent by the Marriage Commissioner or religious representative to the Vital Statistics Agency, where the marriage will be registered and a legal record kept.
Proof of Marriage
At the time of the ceremony, your Marriage Commissioner or religious representative may provide a statement of marriage, which can be used temporarily as proof of marriage. However, it is not a legal document.
You will receive a legal Marriage Certificate from the Vital Statistics Agency after the registration of the marriage.
Use Of Surname After Marriage
After marriage, you may:
- Use the surname of your current spouse by marriage, or
- Use the surname of a previous spouse by marriage, or
- Use the surname on your current birth certificate.
A person is free to use any of the above surnames. Changing from one surname to another does not constitute a name change under the Name Act.
If you wish to combine or hyphenate surnames, this would require a legal change of name. If, at a later date, you wish to revert to your original surname, after you legally changed to a combined or hyphenated surname, this would require a separate legal change of name.
Your Marriage Commissioner or religious representative will be able to answer any additional questions you may have that are not addressed in this guide.