Become an independent celebrant
Independent celebrants can perform marriages and civil unions in New Zealand. You must be available to the public — you cannot become a celebrant to perform a one-off ceremony for friends or family.
Who can apply
To become an independent celebrant you must be a New Zealand citizen and live here permanently.
If you want to perform ceremonies for an approved church or organisation, you must apply to become an organisational celebrant.
What it costs
The application fee to become an independent celebrant is $220. You only pay the 1 fee if you want to perform both marriage and civil union ceremonies.
The fee is non-refundable. For example, if we find that you live outside New Zealand, you will not receive a refund when your application is declined.
Before you apply
The Registrar-General, who decides on applications, strongly encourages all applicants to get celebrant training or join Celebrants Aotearoa at least 12 months before you apply.
Documents you need
As part of your application, you must provide supporting documents and take an online test.
Your supporting documents need to show that:
- you are of good character
- you will conscientiously perform the duties of a celebrant
- making you a celebrant is in the interest of your community and the general public.
Your supporting documents must be:
- less than 6 months old.
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, and explain why you would be a good celebrant.
Good character referees
You need 2 referees to fill in the good character form. Your referees cannot also provide letters of support.
Criminal conviction history
You must include a copy of your criminal record from the Ministry of Justice.
Celebrant qualification, if you have one
If you have a celebrant qualification, provide a copy or a letter from the institution confirming you finished the course.
How to apply
Prepare for the online test
The online application includes a test.
You can prepare for this test by completing our short training course — allow roughly 1 hour.
Get a verified RealMe identity
You need a verified RealMe identity to apply to become an independent celebrant.
Apply online and pay
Apply online using your verified RealMe identity.
- Make sure you have a scan or photo of each of your supporting documents. Save them to the computer, phone or device you are using to apply.
- Fill in the application form and complete the test.
- Attach your supporting documents to your application.
- Pay the fee of $220 with a credit or debit card.
What happens next
You usually find out if your application has been approved within 4 to 6 weeks. There is no urgent service.
Expect delays if you apply between October and January
Celebrant renewals are processed between October and January. If you apply at this time it can take up to 3 months for your application to be processed.
Attend an interview
We will contact you to arrange a Zoom interview within 2 to 3 weeks of applying.
If your application is approved
We will email you to let you know if your application is has been approved. You will be able to legally perform marriage or civil union ceremonies as soon as you receive the email.
Your name will also be added to the celebrant database so people can find your details online.
Renew your celebrant registration
Once you are registered as a celebrant, you must renew your registration at the end of each year.
Apply to perform registry ceremonies
Once you are a registered celebrant, you can also apply to perform registry ceremonies as well as personalised ceremonies. This is optional.
If you want to perform registry ceremonies, you must:
- be available on some weekdays
- have access to a venue for the ceremony (for example, a local hall, beach, park or private residence)
- be registered as a marriage and civil union celebrant
- be a validated financial member of Celebrants Aotearoa and have achieved VCANZ, the celebrant validation process they offer.
- Apply to become an independent celebrant, if you have not already.
- Join and get validated by Celebrants Aotearoa (fees apply).
- Apply to the Registrar-General to be approved to perform registry ceremonies.