Get a marriage licence
What you need to know
- You need to arrange it at least 3 working days before you get married.
- It expires after 3 months.
- Only one of you needs to complete the form, but you need information about both of you.
- It costs $150 or $240.
Who can get it
Most people can get a marriage licence. Same sex marriages are legal in NZ.
You don’t need to be a NZ citizen. Visitors to NZ can marry or have a civil union here.
Who can't legally marry
You can’t legally marry if you’re:
- already married or in a civil union, unless you’re changing your relationship with the same person
- closely related by birth, marriage or adoption
- under 16.
If you're 16 or 17
You need consent from a Family Court judge before you can marry.
If you get consent, you'll be given a Court Order. You need to take the Court Order to a Births, Deaths and Marriages office and apply for your licence in person.
If you use a celebrant, the licence costs $150. You might have to pay extra to the celebrant. If so, pay them directly.
If you get married at a registry office it costs $240 for the licence and the ceremony.
Before you apply
You need to:
- arrange 2 witnesses to come to the ceremony
- choose a registry office, or
- arrange for a celebrant and organise where you’ll have the ceremony.
Who can be a witness
Your 2 witnesses must understand what’s happening during the ceremony. They must be able to clearly identify both of you and be satisfied you both consent to the marriage.
- don't need to have known you for any specific length of time and
- can be children of any age, so long as they understand the concept of a marriage.
If you're getting married at a registry office, don't rely on using staff as witnesses as there may not be anyone available.
If the witnesses speak a different language to you, you’ll need an interpreter. The interpreter has to sign a statutory declaration before the ceremony to say they’ll interpret what you say accurately.
If you've been married or had a civil union before
If you or your partner:
- is divorced, you’ll need a copy of the dissolution order if you have it
- had a spouse or civil union partner who has died. You won’t have to give evidence of their death, but you’ll need to put the date they died on the marriage licence form.
You can get a copy of the dissolution order from the court where the marriage was dissolved.
If you have a back-up venue
Put your back-up venue in your application. You can only have the ceremony in the places you’ve put on the form.
Only one of you needs to complete the form, but you need information about both of you.
You can apply online or with the paper form — you don't need to do both.
Apply using the paper form
You can apply for a licence from one registry office and collect it at another, but you need to allow a few extra days for this. Discuss this with the Registrar first.
1. Start the form
Fill in all parts of the form, except the statutory declaration.
2. Sign the form in front of a Registrar of Marriages
You or your partner needs to take the notice to your local Registrar of Marriages in person so they can witness you signing the declaration.
After you've signed the declaration, you have to wait until you get the licence before getting married. It takes 3 days to get the licence. If you're using a celebrant you might have to wait longer until they get the licence by mail or courier.
Signing the declaration is not your wedding ceremony.
You’ll need to declare:
- you’re legally allowed to get married
- you’ve been truthful on your marriage licence form
- you’ve got consent from a Family Court judge if you’re 16 or 17.
If you live in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch, you can book a time online to go in and sign the form.
3. Pay the fee
You can pay when you make your declaration by:
- credit card
- New Zealand money order
- cheque — who you make the cheque payable to depends on which registrar of marriages you’re making your declaration to.
If you arrive in NZ less than 3 working days before the ceremony
1. Start the form
Fill in all parts of the form, except the statutory declaration
2. Sign the declaration
If you're from a Commonwealth country
You need to sign the declaration in front of a Commonwealth representative before you post it.
You can do this at a New Zealand high commission, embassy or consular office. Contact the office first to check someone is available to witness your declaration.
If you're not from a Commonwealth country
Do not sign the declaration. You'll sign it when you visit the registry office in NZ.
3. Pay the fee
Send it to the registry office closest to where you plan to get married. Include an international bank draft in NZ dollars to pay the fee — check the list of registry offices to see who to make it payable to.
4. When you arrive in NZ
Visit the registry office to pick up your marriage licence and copies of the documents you'll sign on the day.
If you're not from a Commonwealth country, you'll also sign the declaration.
What happens next
If you're getting married at a registry office
Once your application is processed, the registry office will keep your licence, and 2 copies of the Copy of Particulars of Marriage — a form with all the details of the people getting married.
You don't need to do anything else until the ceremony.
If you're getting married anywhere else
You'll be sent the licence, and 2 copies of the Copy of Particulars of Marriage — a form with all the details of the people getting married.
Give all 3 of these documents to your celebrant before your wedding.
After the ceremony
You will be able to keep one of the signed Copy of the Particulars of Marriage. The registrar or celebrant will keep the other, and marriage licence. These are used to register your marriage with the government.
If you need to order a marriage certificate
You can order a marriage certificate from Birth, Deaths and Marriages after your marriage has been registered. A marriage certificate is the official record of your marriage.
If you want to change your last name after your marriage
You don’t have to do anything special — but some places like banks or government agencies might ask to see a copy of particulars or marriage certificate.