2021-12-03 0 Comments

4 Legal Issues for Marriage Registration|Wedding Legal Procedures, Witness Eligibility and Wedding Checklist

A wedding can be described in different terms: wedding ceremony, marriage registration, marriage certificate signing ceremony, etc. Some of them are purely religious/traditional wedding ceremonies, but have no legal effect.

A legally valid marriage in Hong Kong must meet all statutory requirements, including: submitting a notice of intended marriage to the Registrar of Marriages within 3 months before the marriage, having the Certificate of Registrar of Marriages issued, and having the wedding ceremony conducted by the Registrar of Marriages in a Marriage Registry, by a qualified clergyman in a licensed place of public worship, or by a celebrant elsewhere in Hong Kong.

In this article, our full-time celebrant will focus on explaining how a celebrant conducts a legally valid marriage registration.

Relevant articles:3 Points to Note for Completing the Notice of Intended Marriage|Eligibility, Procedures and Documents Required

It is a condition precedent that you have duly made your marriage application within 3 months before the wedding day and the government's approval document has been collected accordingly.

  1. Before the ceremony, you must both sign aDeclaration (MR65); and the party absent from signing the Notice of Intended Marriage must sign aDeclaration of Marital Status; and if the Marriage Registry imposes additional document requirements, you should bring along and produce the originals and photocopies of the relevant documents for authentication by the celebrant
  2. The wedding ceremony must be held in Chinese (ie Cantonese or Mandarin) or English. If the celebrant is convinced that both of you and the two witnesses understand Chinese, the ceremony may be conducted in Chinese; if both of you and the two witnesses understand English, the ceremony may be conducted in English. If you or your witnesses need to communicate in a foreign language other than Chinese/English, the Chinese/English dialogue during the ceremony must be translated into the relevant foreign language by an interpreter on the spot, and before the ceremony, the interpreter must sign aninterpreter's declaration
  3. You two, 2 witnesses (over 18 years old) and the interpreter (if any) must present to the celebrant the identity documents¹⁺² on the wedding day for identity verification
  4. The wedding ceremony must be including the following 3 steps in order:
    • Celebrant makes the official address
      • "Before you are joined in matrimony, it is my duty to remind you of the solemn and binding character of a marriage contracted under the Marriage Ordinance, which is in law the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. Know ye, therefore, [name of the male party], and [name of the female party], that, by the public taking of each other as man and wife in my presence and in the presence of the persons now here, and by the subsequent attestation thereof by signing your names to that effect, you become legally married to each other, although no other rite of a civil or religious nature shall take place."
    • Groom/Bride says the statutory vow
      • "I call upon all persons here present to witness that I, [name of the male/female party], do take thee, [name of the female/male party], to be my lawful wedded wife/husband."
    • You and the 2 witnesses must signCertificate of Marriagein duplicate; one copy will be delivered to you for safekeepting on the spot and the other copy will be filed with the Marriage Registry within 7 days.

Relevant articles:Interfacing with Religious Ceremony

Relevant articles:Official and Personalized Vow

Remarks

  1. Legal Consequences of Unavailability of Identity Documents:
    • Marrying Parties: the wedding ceremony cannot be held on the that day
    • Witnesses: change of witness will be required and the marriage certificate has to be submitted to the Marriage Registry for manual revision. The revision fee for $500 will be charged
    • Interpreter: change of interpreter will be required
  2. The required identity documents:
Hong Kong Residents (Permanent)
• HK Identity Card
Hong Kong Residents (Non-permanent)
• HK Identity Card
Hong Kong Document of Identity for Visa Purposes (applicable if you are holder of this document)
Passport + Valid permit to stay in HK (applicable only if you are not holder of the Hong Kong Document of Identity for Visa Purposes)
Macau
• Macau Identity Card
• Latest landing slip
• Permit to stay in HK (samples are shown below for your reference)
Mainland China
• Exit-entry Permit for Travelling to and from HK
• Latest landing slip
• Permit to stay in HK (samples are shown below for your reference)
Taiwan
• Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Resident
• Latest landing slip
• Permit to stay in HK (samples are shown below for your reference)
Other countries
• Passport
• Latest landing slip
• Permit to stay in HK (samples are shown below for your reference)

Sample of permit to stay in Hong Kong

Witnesses unable to sign

If a witness is unable to sign, he/she may make a cross mark on the relevant signature section of the certificate at which the following remarks will be printed:

Cross mark made by (Witness’s English name )_____________

Witnessed by (Celebrant’s name)(Celebrant’s signature)_________

Change the signature on marriage certificate

Please note that the signatures on all documents on the wedding day must be the same as those on the "Notification of Intended Marriage" signed by you.

If you are going to change the signature on the marriage certificate, please sign the "Confimation letter about change of singnature" and hand in to the civil celebrant on ceremony date.

Celebrant’s Accessories

Quill pen, pen stand, ring pillow and signature folder

Summary:Wedding Checklist

Mandatory Items (failing which you will not be able to get married as planned)

1. 2 marrying parties' identity documents

2. 2 witnesses' identity documents

3. The originals and photocopies of additional documents (if any) required by the Registrar of Marriages

4. The originals and photocopies of the supporting documents submitted for the marriage application (if the originals of the documents were not presented at the time of signing the notice of intended marriage)

5. Interpreter who brings along his/her identity document (if interpretation is required)

6. The original ofthe Certificate of Registrar of Marriages(if you made the marriage application by yourself rather than through our celebrant)

Optional Items

7. Personalized vows

8. Wedding rings

9. Certificate tube holder/ certificate holder

Further reading: 

Interfacing with Religious Ceremony

Ceremony Rundown & Checklist|with Tips

Registration of a Marriage-Immigration Department

Please note that the above is for general reference only and should not be treated as legal advice. For details, you mayContact Us.