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 but no spouse! NZ’s legal marriage requirements are fairly simple, the key element being to arrange a marriage licence between 3 days and 3 months in advance; and registering the marriage after the ceremony.
If you’re currently still planning your wedding and need a little help, we have the best wedding planner book to do just that, or if you’re already about to walk up the aisle, have a look at our wedding anniversary journals and Celebrate books.
The Legalities of Marrying in New Zealand (Including Elopements)
In summary, to legally marry in New Zealand, you must meet certain requirements regarding age, relationship, notice of intended marriage, identification, marriage celebrant, witnesses, and ceremony. Same-sex is also legal in New Zealand and our vendors, venues and celebrants welcome gay couples to marry here.
You must meet the following requirements to legally marry in New Zealand:
- Age: Both parties must be at least 18 years old, or have parental consent if they are between the ages of 16 and 18.
- Relationship: You cannot marry certain close relatives, such as siblings, parents, grandparents, or children. You must also not legally be in another marriage or civil union.
- Notice of Intended Marriage: You must complete a Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form, which can be obtained from the Department of Internal Affairs or a registered marriage celebrant. The form must be completed at least three days before the wedding, and no more than three months in advance.
- Identification: You will need to provide evidence of your identity, such as a passport or birth certificate, and proof of any previous marriage or civil union dissolution.
- Marriage Celebrant: You must have a registered marriage celebrant to conduct the wedding ceremony. You can find a celebrant through the Department of Internal Affairs or by searching online.
- Witnesses: You will need two witnesses who are over the age of 18 to sign the marriage certificate.
- Ceremony: The ceremony must include a declaration of marriage, the exchange of vows, and the signing of the marriage certificate.
It’s important to note that if you are not a New Zealand citizen or resident, you may need to obtain a visa to enter the country and marry. It’s recommended that you check with the New Zealand government or a registered immigration advisor to determine what visa requirements apply to you.
Can same-sex couples get married in New Zealand?
In 2013, New Zealand become the 13th country to legalize same sex marriage, and since then it has also become a popular country for gay couples to come to for their wedding or elopement.
What is the legal process to follow to marry in New Zealand?
There are two ways to get married in New Zealand, of which you must decide on prior to applying for your marriage certificate. – either getting married at a registry office, or at a specified venue of your choice.
1. Get married at a registry office ($240)
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 not write your own vows
2. Get married by an approved marriage celebrant ($150 + independent celebrant’s fee)
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)
· with two witnesses present
· using your own vows – although you must say “I [name] take you [name] to be my legal [wife or husband].”
So, because it’s important to specify when and where you are getting married, you can only apply for your marriage licence in New Zealand once you have arranged for a marriage celebrant or chose a registry office to get married in, and organised where you will get married. 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.
N.B. If you have been married and divorced previously, you’ll also need a copy of the marriage dissolution order.
Applying for a New Zealand Marriage Licence
There are different ways to apply for your Marriage Licence depending on whether you live in New Zealand or overseas, so follow either a) or b)
a) Get a marriage licence if you live in New Zealand
· You can be legally married without a marriage licence.
· You can apply for your marriage licence online. The requirements remain the same as in person – you can apply between 3 days and 3 months of your wedding. Apply online at https://marriages.services.govt.nz – you can get the licence emailed to either yourself or your celebrant, and you can also get it couriered to one of you.
· If you are having a civil union, or if you or your partner is aged 16-17, you must still use a paper form and apply in person – Print & complete a notice of intended marriage application form (linked)
· Only one of you needs to attend 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).
The Costs of applying for a Marriage Licence (pay online or when you hand in your form):
· $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 is valid for 3 months. Therefore, you must apply between 3 months and 3 days of your wedding. If your wedding is postponed, you must re-apply.
b) 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, so apply online or fill out a paper form and apply at least 3 days before your wedding day.
If you would like to fill out a paper form, see below:
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:
· NZ$240 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
· 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.
OR: 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. New Zealand representatives overseas
Receiving your Marriage Licence and getting married in New Zealand
Your marriage licence will be issued after 3 days, and you will be sent the licence and two copies of the Copy of Particulars, all of which are to be given to your celebrant. If for any reason you change your venue before the wedding, you must tell the registry office at which you got the marriage licence.
Following the Wedding: 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.
The process for getting a civil union is the same as for getting married, but the forms are different and you cannot apply online. 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.
Civil union forms and information
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.
·Change a civil union to a marriage form (PDF 266kb)
·Change a marriage to a civil union form (PDF 228kb)
Changing your name after your wedding:
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 if you wish, you may also change your name with banks, power companies, government agencies, etc.
In New Zealand, you can change your name with companies and organisations after your wedding by following a few simple steps:
- Obtain a copy of your marriage certificate: You will need to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate from the Department of Internal Affairs. You can do this by completing an online application form or by visiting one of their offices.
- Update your identity documents: Once you have your marriage certificate, you will need to update your identity documents such as your passport, driver’s license, and bank accounts. You will need to provide your original marriage certificate and complete any necessary forms or applications.
- Notify relevant organizations: You will also need to notify any relevant organizations such as your employer, insurance company, and electoral roll of your name change.
It’s important to note that you are not required by law to change your name after getting married. It is a personal choice and the decision is entirely up to you.
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.