Legalities – Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Australia


Marriage has been proposed and now the fun begins!

The first step is to check that you are legally able to be married in Australia.

Read the points below to check that you and your partner are all hunky dory and ready to go.


Before the ceremony

You must:

  • not be married to your current partner or to anyone else
  • not be marrying a parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister – including adopted siblings
  • be eighteen years old, unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between sixteen and eighteen years old
  • both understand what marriage means and freely consent to the union
  • complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (NOIM) form and lodge it with your celebrant at least one month before the ceremony.  The NOIM is valid up to eighteen months after the date of lodgement.
  • provide your celebrant with evidence of your date and place of birth, and prove that your are who you say you are with photo ID (a passport does all of these things, otherwise a birth certificate + a driver’s licence does the trick).
  • You will also need to prove the ending of any previous marriages for each party showing your original divorce or death certificate.


  1. An expired passport (up to 2 years) is acceptable as long as it has not been cancelled or damaged.
  2. All documents must either be the original or a digital version of the original – photocopies or certified copies are not accepted.

During the ceremony

  • The ceremony must take place in the physical presence of an Authorised Celebrant.  All authorised celebrants will have a registration number and are listed on the Attorney General’s website.
    (Please be aware – marriage via Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc.. are NOT permitted).
  • You both must sign a declaration stating that you believe there is no legal impediment to your marriage. This must be done with your celebrant, before, and as close as possible, to the marriage ceremony.
  • In accordance with the Marriage Act 1961, the celebrant must say the following words:

Authorised Celebrant:

“My name is [celebrant’s full name] and I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law”

“Before you are joined in marriage in my presence, and in the presence of these witnesses, I must remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship that you are about to enter.”

“Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”

  • There are also certain words that must to be said by you.

Legal Wording for Couples:

“I call upon the people here present to witness that I, [your name], take you, [your partner’s name] to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband/spouse.”

  • The full names of the marrying couple must be mentioned somewhere in the ceremony (for purposes of identification of the parties). This is usually done in the introduction.
  • During your legal vows you must use your legal name (first names only is fine), nicknames may be added after your legal name ie:  “I, Julie – Jules – take you…”
  • You must arrange 2 witnesses who appear over the age of 18 and preferably know who you are
  • You, your witnesses and your celebrant will sign three marriage certificates after the ceremony:
    • 1st – is sent to Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state the ceremony is held to be registered
    • 2nd – is kept by the celebrant
    • 3rd – is the fancy commemorative one that is kept by you

After the ceremony

Your celebrant will lodge your marriage documents with Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state that your marriage took place.

If you would like to change your name:

  • You can simply assume your partner’s name without doing anything (this may cause issues with government departments later down the track) OR
  • You can officially change your name on your passport, driver’s licence, at the bank, etc… using a BDM stamped official marriage certificate.

NOTE: the pretty comemorative certificate that you receive on your wedding day, whilst still a registered document is not accepted by government departments as proof that you are married.

  • You will need to apply for a copy of your ‘official’ marriage certificate, stamped and issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (in the state where your marriage took place) then you take that certificate into all the places where you’d like your name changed.  
  • You can now apply online

For more information and a handy list to help you in this quest – click here!