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What you need to know

Independent celebrants can legally perform marriages and civil unions in New Zealand. You can be a marriage celebrant or a civil union celebrant or both.

Who can apply

You need to be a NZ citizen and permanently live in NZ to become a celebrant. The application fee is non-refundable so if you apply and, for instance, we find that you live overseas, you will not receive a refund when your application is declined.

What it costs

Applying to become an independent celebrant costs $220.

You only pay 1 fee if you want to be a marriage celebrant and a civil union celebrant.

How long it takes

You usually find out within 4 to 6 weeks if your application has been approved or not.

Delays in processing new  applications

If you apply between October and January it can take up to 3 months for your application to be processed. This is because celebrant renewals are also processed then. There's no urgent service available. Thanks for your patience.

You can apply to perform registry ceremonies

Celebrants can choose to perform registry ceremonies.

You will need to:

  • be available some weekdays
  • have access to a venue (for example, local hall, beach, park, your home or the couples') for the ceremony
  • be registered as a marriage and civil union celebrant
  •  be a financial member of CANZ and have achieved VCANZ.

To apply:

  1. Apply to become a celebrant, if you have not already.
  2. Join and be validated by the Celebrants Association of NZ.
  3. Apply to the Registrar-General to be approved to perform registry ceremonies.

Fees will apply.

How to apply

Do you want to be an independent or organisational celebrant?

To perform ceremonies for an approved church or organisation, you need to apply to become an organisational celebrant.

You need to apply online to become an independent celebrant.

As part of your application, you need to provide supporting documents and take an online test.

Before you apply

Prepare your supporting documents

Your supporting documents need to show that:

  • you’re of good character
  • you’ll conscientiously perform the duties of a celebrant, and
  • making you a celebrant is in the interest of your community or the general public.

Your supporting documents must be less than 6 months old and need to show that.

1. Letters of support

You need at least 4 signed letters of support from people in your community. Each letter needs to include the information in the support letter checklist, including why you would be a good celebrant.

Independent celebrant support letter checklist (PDF 33KB)

Independent celebrant support letter checklist accessible alternative (TXT 1.5KB)

2. Good character referees

You need 2 people to fill in the good character form.

Good character form (PDF 710KB)

Good character form accessible alternative (TXT 1KB)

3. Criminal conviction history

You need a copy of your criminal conviction history from the Ministry of Justice.

Getting a copy of your criminal record

4. If you have a celebrant qualification

If you have Certificate or Diploma in Celebrant Studies provide a copy or a letter from the school confirming you finished the course.

Prepare for the online test

The application includes an online test. Everything you need to know is in the marriage information on this website.

Getting married

Becoming a celebrant — training course

Make sure you have a verified RealMe identity

You need a verified RealMe identity to apply online. RealMe gives you a single login to multiple online services including Celebrants Online. When you upgrade to a verified RealMe identity, it also works as your online ID. You can get your RealMe identity verified at a participating photo store.

RealMe — How to apply and get verified

Apply online and pay

You need to apply online using your verified RealMe identity.

  1. Make sure you have a scan or photo of each of your supporting documents. Save them to the computer, phone or device you’re using to apply.
  2. Do the online test and fill in the application form.
  3. Attach your supporting documents to your online application.
  4. Pay the fee of $220 using a credit or debit card.

What happens next

You usually find out within 4 to 6 weeks if your application has been approved or not.

There is no urgent service.

Interview information for applicants

You will be contacted to arrange an interview within 2 to 3 weeks of applying.

Most people will have to attend an interview by video conference.

During the interview you perform a practice marriage ceremony. This helps assess your basic skill level.

You have to read aloud option 1 of the Marriage vows:

The guide ‘Marriage and civil union celebrants: a guide to the role of celebrants in New Zealand’has also been updated in the section Get celebrant training, support and information.

If your application is approved

You will be told by email if your application is approved. You will be able to legally marry people or join people in a civil union as soon as you receive the email.

Your name will be added to the list of celebrants so people can find your details online.

Locating a celebrant

You must renew your registration as a celebrant at the end of each year.

Renew your celebrant registration

Utility links and page information

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