Difference between revisions of "Getting Married in British Columbia"

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This script discusses getting married. If you plan to get married in British Columbia, there are a number of formalities that are required and procedures you should know about.
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You’ve decided to tie the knot. Congratulations! Learn the legal requirements to marry in British Columbia, as well as the steps involved (hint: you need a licence to get married).
 +
 
 +
==Understand your legal rights==
 +
 
 +
===Who can get married in BC===
 +
Before you can get married in British Columbia, you must meet these qualifications:
 +
*Each of you has to be '''unmarried'''; in other words, you can’t be in a marriage with someone else.
 +
*You must '''not be too closely related''' to each other: you cannot marry anyone in your immediate family or any near relation.
 +
*Each of you has to be '''19 years of age or older'''. If you’re under 19, you may still get married, but you need the agreement of both your parents or of your guardians. If you’re under 16, you need a court order to get married.
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In BC, and in the rest of Canada, opposite- as well as same-sex couples can marry. The rules that apply to same-sex couples are exactly the same as the rules that apply to opposite-sex couples.
  
==Before you can get married in BC, certain qualifications must first be met==
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===To get married, you need a licence===
They are as follows:
+
You need a '''marriage licence''' to get married. At some time in the three months before your wedding date, you will need to buy a marriage licence. 
  
*Each of you has to be unmarried; in other words, you can’t be in a marriage with someone else.
+
To get a marriage licence, at least one of you has to go '''in person''' to a marriage licence issuer. There’s a fee of $100 for the licence. You need to show primary identification for both of you. Examples of primary identification are a birth certificate or citizenship card.  
*You must not be too closely related to each other: you cannot marry anyone in your immediate family or any near relation.
 
*Each of you has to be 19 years of age or older. If you’re under 19, you may still get married, but you need the agreement of both your parents or of your guardians. If you’re under 16, you need a court order to get married.
 
  
In BC, and in the rest of Canada, opposite- as well as same-sex couples can marry, and the rules that apply to same-sex couples are exactly the same as the rules that apply to opposite-sex couples.
+
If one or both of you was previously married, you must provide proof of the divorce before you can get the marriage licence. This is usually done by providing a copy of your divorce order or certificate of divorce.  
  
==Assuming you meet the qualifications, you’ll need a marriage licence==
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Marriage licence issuers include Service BC locations, many insurance agents, and many notaries public. The BC government website has a [https://www.health.gov.bc.ca/cgi-bin/vs/marriage_offices.cgi search form] to lookup the location of the marriage licence issuer closest to you. Or you can contact the [https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/life-events Vital Statistics Agency], the government office that registers all marriages that occur in BC. They can be reached toll-free at 1-888-876-1633.  
In order to apply for a marriage licence, one of you has to go, in person, to a Vital Statistics Agency office, which is the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. In the lower mainland, the office is at 250 - 605 Robson Street, and in Greater Victoria, the office is at 818 Fort Street. There are also many other government agent offices in Vancouver, Victoria and all around the province. To find out the location of a Marriage License Issuer in the area closest to you, call 604.660.2937 in Vancouver, 250.952.2681 in Victoria, or toll-free 1.800.663.8328 elsewhere in BC.
 
  
==What does a marriage licence cost?==
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The marriage licence expires if you don’t get married within three months.
There’s a fee of $100 for the marriage license that must be paid at the time of your application. If one or both of you was previously married, you must provide proof of the divorce before you can get the license, usually by providing a copy of your divorce order or certificate of divorce. The marriage license is valid when you get it but expires if you don’t get married within three months.
 
  
==Next, you need to get married in a religious or civil ceremony==
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===You can get married in a religious or civil ceremony===
In either case, the person performing the ceremony must be licensed under the provincial ''Marriage Act'' to perform marriages, and not all religious officials are licensed under the Act. For civil ceremonies, this person is known as a “marriage commissioner”. The marriage ceremony must be held in the presence of at least two witnesses, in addition to the marriage commissioner or religious official.
+
In either case, the person performing the ceremony must be licensed under the provincial ''[http://canlii.ca/t/846b Marriage Act]'' to perform marriages. Not all religious officials are licensed under the Act. For civil ceremonies, this person is known as a '''marriage commissioner'''.  
 +
 
 +
The marriage ceremony must be held in the presence of at least two witnesses, in addition to the marriage commissioner or religious official.
  
 
If you wish, you can be married in a civil ceremony and then have a religious ceremony afterwards as well. If you have your religious ceremony second, it doesn’t matter whether the religious official is licensed to perform marriages, since you will have been legally married at the civil ceremony.
 
If you wish, you can be married in a civil ceremony and then have a religious ceremony afterwards as well. If you have your religious ceremony second, it doesn’t matter whether the religious official is licensed to perform marriages, since you will have been legally married at the civil ceremony.
  
It is not necessary that banns or another public announcement of the marriage be published before the marriage ceremony takes place.
+
It is not necessary that “banns of marriage” or some other public announcement of the marriage be published before the marriage ceremony takes place.
 +
 
 +
===Your marriage will be registered===
 +
The marriage commissioner or religious official who conducts the ceremony will help you register your marriage. At any wedding in BC, the couple, two witnesses and the official marrying them must sign the marriage licence and a '''registration of marriage''' form after the ceremony has been performed.
 +
 
 +
The marriage registration form must be sent, within 48 hours of the ceremony, to the Vital Statistics Agency for registration. The person who conducts your ceremony will normally take care of this for you.
 +
 
 +
The Vital Statistics Agency will send you a '''certificate of marriage'''.
 +
 
 +
The person who conducts your ceremony may provide you with a document confirming your marriage. This can be used to prove you are married before your marriage is registered with the Vital Statistics Agency and you receive your government-issued marriage certificate.
 +
 
 +
===If someone objects to the marriage===
 +
Any person who believes there is some reason why two people should not marry can file a '''caveat''' with the Vital Statistics Agency. If this happens, a marriage licence will not be issued until the agency is satisfied the issuing of the licence shouldn’t be prevented or the caveat is withdrawn by the person who filed it. If a caveat has been filed, you should speak to a lawyer.
 +
 
 +
==Get help==
  
==What if someone objects to the marriage?==
+
===With more information===
Any person who believes there is some reason why two people should not marry can file a “caveat” with the Vital Statistics Agency. If this happens, a marriage licence will not be issued until the agency is satisfied that the issuing of the licence shouldn’t be prevented or the caveat is withdrawn by the person who filed it. If a caveat has been filed, you should speak to a lawyer.
+
The '''Vital Statistics Agency''' is the government office that registers all marriages that occur in BC. 
 +
:Toll-free: 1-888-876-1633
 +
:Web: [https://www2.gov.bc.ca/vitalstatistics gov.bc.ca/vitalstatistics]
  
==Summary==
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The wikibook '''''JP Boyd on Family Law''''', hosted by Courthouse Libraries BC, includes information on marriage.
If a couple wishes to get married, they must be qualified to marry. If they can marry, they must obtain a marriage licence. Then, they must have the marriage ceremony performed by a religious representative or marriage commissioner licensed to do so, and the ceremony must be witnessed by at least two other witnesses.
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:Web: [http://wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca/index.php/Marriage_&_Married_Spouses wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca]
  
==Where can you get more information?==
 
*See the information posted on the website for BC’s Vital Statistics Agency at [http://www.vs.gov.bc.ca/marriage www.vs.gov.bc.ca/marriage].
 
*See also the [[Marriage & Married Spouses|Marriage & Married Relationships page]] of the wikibook ''JP Boyd on Family Law'', hosted by Courthouse Libraries BC.
 
  
  

Revision as of 22:00, 10 February 2019

You’ve decided to tie the knot. Congratulations! Learn the legal requirements to marry in British Columbia, as well as the steps involved (hint: you need a licence to get married).

Understand your legal rights

Who can get married in BC

Before you can get married in British Columbia, you must meet these qualifications:

  • Each of you has to be unmarried; in other words, you can’t be in a marriage with someone else.
  • You must not be too closely related to each other: you cannot marry anyone in your immediate family or any near relation.
  • Each of you has to be 19 years of age or older. If you’re under 19, you may still get married, but you need the agreement of both your parents or of your guardians. If you’re under 16, you need a court order to get married.

In BC, and in the rest of Canada, opposite- as well as same-sex couples can marry. The rules that apply to same-sex couples are exactly the same as the rules that apply to opposite-sex couples.

To get married, you need a licence

You need a marriage licence to get married. At some time in the three months before your wedding date, you will need to buy a marriage licence.

To get a marriage licence, at least one of you has to go in person to a marriage licence issuer. There’s a fee of $100 for the licence. You need to show primary identification for both of you. Examples of primary identification are a birth certificate or citizenship card.

If one or both of you was previously married, you must provide proof of the divorce before you can get the marriage licence. This is usually done by providing a copy of your divorce order or certificate of divorce.

Marriage licence issuers include Service BC locations, many insurance agents, and many notaries public. The BC government website has a search form to lookup the location of the marriage licence issuer closest to you. Or you can contact the Vital Statistics Agency, the government office that registers all marriages that occur in BC. They can be reached toll-free at 1-888-876-1633.

The marriage licence expires if you don’t get married within three months.

You can get married in a religious or civil ceremony

In either case, the person performing the ceremony must be licensed under the provincial Marriage Act to perform marriages. Not all religious officials are licensed under the Act. For civil ceremonies, this person is known as a marriage commissioner.

The marriage ceremony must be held in the presence of at least two witnesses, in addition to the marriage commissioner or religious official.

If you wish, you can be married in a civil ceremony and then have a religious ceremony afterwards as well. If you have your religious ceremony second, it doesn’t matter whether the religious official is licensed to perform marriages, since you will have been legally married at the civil ceremony.

It is not necessary that “banns of marriage” or some other public announcement of the marriage be published before the marriage ceremony takes place.

Your marriage will be registered

The marriage commissioner or religious official who conducts the ceremony will help you register your marriage. At any wedding in BC, the couple, two witnesses and the official marrying them must sign the marriage licence and a registration of marriage form after the ceremony has been performed.

The marriage registration form must be sent, within 48 hours of the ceremony, to the Vital Statistics Agency for registration. The person who conducts your ceremony will normally take care of this for you.

The Vital Statistics Agency will send you a certificate of marriage.

The person who conducts your ceremony may provide you with a document confirming your marriage. This can be used to prove you are married before your marriage is registered with the Vital Statistics Agency and you receive your government-issued marriage certificate.

If someone objects to the marriage

Any person who believes there is some reason why two people should not marry can file a caveat with the Vital Statistics Agency. If this happens, a marriage licence will not be issued until the agency is satisfied the issuing of the licence shouldn’t be prevented or the caveat is withdrawn by the person who filed it. If a caveat has been filed, you should speak to a lawyer.

Get help

With more information

The Vital Statistics Agency is the government office that registers all marriages that occur in BC.

Toll-free: 1-888-876-1633
Web: gov.bc.ca/vitalstatistics

The wikibook JP Boyd on Family Law, hosted by Courthouse Libraries BC, includes information on marriage.

Web: wiki.clicklaw.bc.ca


[updated August 2017]

The above was last reviewed for accuracy by Thomas E. Wallwork.



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