Legal requirements to marriage in Australia

Requirements for marriage in Australia:

  • the couple must be two people
  • the couple need to be adults, having attained the age of 18 years (see more information below)
  • both parties to the marriage need to give a free and informed consent to be married (see more information below)
  • not married to any other person - including each other.
  • the marriage celebrant must be authorised under the Marriage Act 1961 to conduct the legal marriage. 
  • the couple must give a minimum of a month’s legal notice, on a Notice of Intended Marriage Form approved by the Attorney-General of Australia
  • the marriage celebrant must ensure the couple:
    • is given or given access to a copy of the Australian government's publication Happily Ever Before and After.
      and that the couple sign:
    • the Notice of Intended Marriage form
    • a “No impediment to marriage” declaration form prior to the Marriage
    • a Marriage Certificate that the couple retain after the ceremony
    • two copies of the Marriage Certificate, one to be sent to the relevant Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages to register the marriage, and
    • one held for 6 years as the Celebrant's copy.

Marriage laws in Australia are a function of the federal government.

All civil marriage celebrants must be authorised by the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department.  You can find Your Celebrant here

All marriages require the couple to give at least one month's notice to their chosen celebrant with a Notice of Intended Marriage form.

Notice of Intended Marriage

You must lodge a Notice of Intended Marriage form with the celebrant you choose at least one a full month before the date of your wedding - whether the celebrant is a civil celebrant or religious one, or one at a registry office or court house. 

You may lodge your documents in person, by mail or electronically.  Your celebrant will explain these requirements.

Occasionally a "shortening of time" may be granted by a magistrate or registrar in specific extenuating circumstances.  This would enable you to marry earlier, but there is no guarantee of this. 

Your celebrant can explain and assist you with this process if it applies to you.

Age and Marital Status

You must be over the age of 18 years and not legally married to any other person anywhere in the world - including each other.

In very limited circumstances a court may allow the marriage of a couple where ONE of the partners is aged between 16 and 18 years
Verification Documents:

To verify age and marital status you will need:

  • a document that shows where and when you were born ie: Birth Certificate or Passport.  The celebrant must be satisfied that the information you have provided is correct.  (Note: expired, but not damaged or cancelled passports are acceptable)
  • Divorce or Death certificates if you have been married before

These must be Original documents - NOT photocopies.  (Note: Digital copies of your ID are now accepted)

Your celebrant is required to provide you and your partner with a copy of the Australian government's publication Happily Ever Before and After.

Words that must be included in your ceremony:

There are some specific legal requirements for the wording of a civil marriage ceremony. 

Civil marriage celebrants must ensure: 

  • Your full names are used at least once during the ceremony
  • They say that they are authorised by law to marry you, recite the Monitum and give a definition of Marriage according to Australian law
  • You, as the marrying couple, each must call upon the witnesses to witness that you take each other as husband / wife / spouse or words to that effect.

You need two people over the age of 18 to act as your witnesses.

You will sign three certificates at the ceremony, together with your witnesses and the celebrant.  You will keep one, the celebrant will keep one and the third will go to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the state your ceemony took place to register your marriage.


The Celebrants Network has professional civil marriage celebrants across the country.  Look for one in your area here




Last modified on Friday, 25 August 2023 13:53