Get a marriage licence
Who can get it
You need a marriage licence to get married or have a civil union in NZ. You need to arrange it at least 3 working days before you want to get married. It costs $150 if using a celebrant and $240 if getting married at a registry office.
Anyone can marry in New Zealand, as long as you’re not:
- already married or in a civil union, unless you’re changing your relationship with the same person
- under 16 — and if you’re 16 or 17, you need consent from a Family Court Judge
- closely related by birth, marriage or adoption.
Both different sex and same sex marriages are legal in New Zealand.
What you need
Before you apply, you need to:
- arrange for a marriage or civil union celebrant or choose a registry office
- organise where you’ll get married or have your civil union. You can only have the ceremony in the place you’ve put on the marriage licence form, so include a back-up venue in case something goes wrong.
If you've been married 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.
How you apply
You can apply up to 3 months before the day of your ceremony.
A licence costs:
- $150 if you’re getting married by a celebrant — the celebrant costs extra and you’ll pay them directly, or
- $240 if you’re getting married at a registry office — this includes the ceremony.
Apply for a marriage licence online
You can apply online if you:
- are already in NZ, or
- will arrive in NZ more than 3 working days before you get married.
If you're entering into a civil union, you have to use the paper form.
Apply using a paper form
There are two ways to apply for an NZ marriage licence using a paper application form.
If you're in NZ, or arrive in NZ more than 3 working days before you get married or have a civil union
1. Complete the licence form
You need to complete the marriage licence form — this is officially called the notice of intended marriage or civil union form. You can’t get married or have a civil union in NZ without a marriage licence.
If either of you has been married before, you need to say how and when that relationship ended.
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.
You’ll need to declare:
- you’re legally allowed to get married
- you’ve been truthful on your marriage licence form
- you’ve got parental consent if you’re 16 or 17.
You can book a time online to go in and sign the form if you live in Auckland, Manukau, Wellington or Christchurch.
3. Pay the fee
- $240 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
- $150 if you’re getting married by a celebrant (the celebrant costs extra – you’ll pay them directly).
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 you get married or have a civil union
1. Complete the form
2. Don’t sign the declaration
3. Pay the fee
Send it to the registry office closest to where you plan to get married. Include an international bank draft in New Zealand dollars to pay the fee — check the list of registry offices to see who to make it payable to. It costs:
- NZ$240 if you’re getting married at a registry office (including the ceremony), or
- NZ$150 if you’re getting married by a celebrant (the celebrant costs extra – you’ll pay them directly).
4. When you arrive in NZ
Visit the registry office to sign the declaration and pick up your marriage licence and copies of the documents you'll sign on the day.
If you're in a Commonwealth country, you can also take your completed form to a New Zealand high commission, embassy or consular office and sign the declaration in front of a Commonwealth representative before you post it. Contact the office first to check someone is available to witness your declaration.
You follow a different process if you want to change a civil union to a marriage.
When you get it
Your marriage licence will take at least 3 days to be issued.
You’ll be given or sent (if you’ve arranged this with the registrar) the licence, and two copies of the Copy of Particulars. Give all 3 of these documents to your celebrant before your wedding.
It's possible to give notice at one registry office and collect your licence at another, but you need to allow a few extra days for this. Discuss this with the Registrar first.
What happens next
Your marriage licence is valid for 3 months from the date it's issued.
If you change your venue before the ceremony takes place, you need to tell the registry office where you got your marriage licence.
Straight after the ceremony, your celebrant will ask you to sign two copies of the Copy of Particulars form — one for you to keep and one they'll send to Births, Deaths and Marriages so your marriage can be registered. You can order a marriage certificate from Birth, Deaths and Marriages after your marriage has been registered.
The marriage licence form is officially called the notice of intended marriage or civil union form.