Congratulations on deciding to get married! There will be a lot to do between now and then, including getting the government documents you need. If you are getting married in Ontario, you may have a religious marriage or a civil marriage. A religious marriage is performed by an official of a recognized religion who has received authorization from the Office of the Registrar General to perform marriages in Ontario. The marriage can be solemnized under the authority of a marriage licence or the publication of banns, depending on the religious body.
Note: Banns shall not be published where either party to the intended marriage had a previous marriage which has been dissolved or annulled.
A civil marriage may be performed by an Ontario judge, justice of the peace or a municipal clerk under the authority of a marriage licence. Each municipality will set its own fees and can even offer civil marriage services. Contact your municipal office for more information.
BEFORE YOU GET MARRIED:
Getting a Marriage Licence
In most cases, if you are being married in a religious or civil ceremony, you need a marriage licence. However, if you are being married in a religious ceremony, you may be eligible to be married by a publication of banns (making an announcement of the details of your intent to marry in your church, mosque or synagogue). Speak to your religious official for more information.
You can apply for a marriage licence at the municipal offices in your city, town, village or township if there is a license issuer OR you can download the Marriage Licence Application Form (http://www.forms.ssb.gov.on.ca/) and bring it with you to your nearest municipal office.
Fill out the application and then apply for the marriage licence in person. Make sure you and your partner bring identification, such as a birth certificate (along with any change of name certificates), current passport, Record of Immigrant Landing or Canadian citizenship card and photo ID to prove your current legal name and age.
There is a marriage licence fee. Contact your local municipal office for the current fee. The marriage licence is valid anywhere in Ontario for three months from the date of purchase. If the licence expires, you will have to purchase another one.
The minimum age to get married in Ontario
You must be at least 18 years old to be married in Ontario by licence or under the authority of the publication of banns (an announcement of the details of your intent to marry in your church, mosque or synagogue) without parental consent. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may marry if you have the written consent of both parents. Other restrictions may apply.
Getting a Special Permit to serve alcohol at the wedding reception
If you plan on serving or selling alcohol at your wedding reception, you will need a Special Occasion Permit from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). Get the Special Occasion Permit form online.
Getting married outside Ontario
When you get married outside of Ontario, your marriage won’t be registered in the province. You may need to purchase a licence from the place where you get married. You may need to prove that you are not currently married and you may be required to apply for a marriage search letter. In many places, this letter is commonly referred to as a Letter of Non-Impediment. This letter only confirms whether or not a marriage is registered for you.
Remarrying after a divorce
If you were divorced in Canada, you must bring the original or court-certified copy of the final decree, final judgment or certificate of divorce to your local municipal office when you are purchasing the marriage licence.
If you were divorced outside of Canada, you must obtain authorization from the Ministry of Government Services before you can purchase a marriage licence.
For authorization, collect the following documents:
- A completed Marriage Licence Application.
- A Statement of Sole Responsibility for each divorce signed by both parties of this marriage.
- An original or court-certified copy of the divorce decree or annulment. If the decree is in a language other than English or French, include a translated copy together with an affidavit sworn by a certified translator.
- A legal opinion from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both applicants to the marriage, giving reasons why the divorce or annulment should be recognized in the Province of Ontario. The Office of the Registrar General will fax a sample legal opinion letter to your lawyer if you call (807)-343-7492 or toll-free at 1-800-461-2156.
And send them to:The Office of the Registrar General Marriage Office P.O. Box 4600 189 Red River Rd. Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6L8
AFTER YOU GET MARRIED:
A Marriage Certificate
Immediately after the marriage ceremony, the couple may receive a Record of Solemnization of Marriage from the person who performed the ceremony. This document includes the couple’s names, the date of the marriage, the names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a licence or the publication of banns. This is not a marriage certificate or a legal record. You still need a marriage certificate.
The person who performed the marriage must forward a completed and signed marriage licence to the Office of the Registrar General for registration. The marriage must be registered before you may apply for a marriage certificate.
A Canadian marriage certificate is a vital record issued by a government authority that proves that the couple listed on the certificate has a legally recognized marriage. In Canada, marriage certificates are issued by the provincial or territorial government where the marriage occurred.
Typically, a marriage certificate contains the full names of the couple or individuals, the place of marriage, the date of marriage, the registration number and the date of registration. Some provinces offer long-form versions of marriage certificates that contain additional information required when applying for certain government identity documents.
You can also print off a Request for Marriage Certificate form (PDF) and mail it in or apply for one in person at your nearest ServiceOntario Centre.
You can check the status of your Ontario Marriage Certificate Application online.
Costs: A marriage certificate costs $15. A certified (long form) copy costs $22. For other costs, such as amendments or confirmation, check Fees and Services.
Service delivery times: An online application takes 15 business days plus delivery, regular mail service takes 6 to 8 weeks plus delivery. For urgent cases, you can pay $30 extra for Expedited service (10 days plus delivery) or Premium Online Service (5 business days). Emergency Service (2 days plus delivery) is available in person at the Toronto Office only, and proof of urgency is required.
Who is entitled to get a marriage certificate?
A marriage certificate may be obtained by:
- the bride or groom
- a parent of either the bride or the groom
- by a child of their marriage (natural or adoptive)
If either the bride or groom is deceased, their children or parents may obtain a certified copy of the marriage registration.
There is no restriction on the number of marriage certificates a person may apply for and receive.
Multiple applications may not be cancelled and refunds will not be issued.
Changing your name to your partner’s last name
You do not have to get a legal name change to use your partner’s name as your last name. Instead, you can assume your partner’s name. Assuming a name is not a legal name change, so it does not change your birth certificate. Most people assume a name instead of undergoing a legal name change.