How to Get a Marriage Licence in NZ

An essential part of your tool kit to get married in New Zealand is a marriage licence. Gone are the days of having to visit your local Registrar of Marriages office to complete a paper application form though. Well, not quite, as you can still do this. However, for time-pressed brides, applying online for a marriage licence is a far better idea. We asked Dunedin celebrant Angela Port to share information about getting married in NZ and how you can get a marriage licence.

When getting married in New Zealand, a marriage licence confirms that you and your spouse can legally get married. This means that you:

  • Are not already married or in a civil union relationship (except if you are changing the type of legal relationship you have with that person)
  • Are over 18 years old (or are over 16 years old, but under 18, and have the consent of a Family Court judge)
  • Are not closely related by birth, marriage or adoption

If you meet the criteria, then it’s time to apply for your licence, which we’ll explain more next.

How to Apply for Your Marriage Licence

You have two options for your marriage ceremony in New Zealand: a registry ceremony or a personalised ceremony, such as what Angela provides.

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Registry Ceremony

From 1 July 2019, ceremonies outside of Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch are done by registry celebrants at a location of your mutual choice during a weekday. This differs from what was offered in the past, which was at your local registry office.

The compromise here is the celebrant doesn’t personalise your ceremony, you write your own vows, there’s no music or rehearsal, plus limited options for guests/days/times/places.

Personalised Ceremony

You work with a celebrant of your choice at a time and place of your choosing. This marriage licence will cost you $150.

Once you’ve decided on your ceremony choice, and date, it’s time to get your marriage licence. This must be done at least three working days before your wedding day, but no earlier than three months ahead. As we mentioned earlier, this entire application can now be done online via the Marriage Services website. It will ask you to:

  • Choose your ceremony type: personalised or registry
  • Enter details about the ceremony location and date
  • Enter the celebrant’s details (if choosing a personalised ceremony)
  • Enter details about you and your spouse, plus your parent’s details
  • Pay via credit card or debit card

You can also order a marriage certificate at the same time. Your licence will be sent out to you three days after you have applied either by courier or email. If you are getting married in or around the Dunedin area, we recommend you chat with Angela on how she can help you achieve the ceremony of your dreams!

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