Legally Wed: Everything you need to know about getting married in Ontario

Photo above: Jals Photography

Getting legally married in Ontario involves more than just a dress and a fiancé. When it comes to getting legally hitched, you have two options: a marriage licence issued by a municipality of Ontario, or, if you are being married in a religious ceremony, you may be eligible to be married by a publication of banns.

Publication of Banns

If you’re getting married in your church, you’ll have the option of skipping the licence (and the licence fee) and being married by a publication of banns. Banns are a lovely traditional religious way of both announcing your intention to marry and making sure it’s legal. The Banns are typically announced during church services 3 weeks in a row prior to your ceremony. Both you and your fiancé must be members of the church and attend regularly. Banns cannot be published if you or your intended spouse has been married before. You will need to get a marriage licence. Speak to the clergy of your church for more information on how a publication of banns works.

Marriage Licence

Everyone else wishing to be legally married in Ontario will need a marriage license. The application process is short and sweet, but you’ll need to know the right details.

Download a Marriage Licence Application Form (PDF)

A licence is valid anywhere in Ontario for 90 days from the date of issue. There is no waiting period between the date of issue of the marriage licence and the date of marriage. The Marriage Licence Application form must be completed and signed by both parties to the marriage. One party to the marriage may submit the completed application form to the City Clerk’s Office in person in order to obtain the Marriage Licence, provided that one of the following documents is submitted in place of the absent party: (a) the absent party’s original birth certificate; (b) the absent party’s valid passport; (c) an Affidavit of Age (available from the City Clerk’s Office) completed and signed by the absent party and notarized.

Costs for a marriage licence varies for by municipality. For more information fees, office hours and contact information for your local municipality, and be sure to check out our article Marriage License: How much does it cost and where can I get one?

Getting remarried in Ontario after a Divorce

If this is not your first trip to the alter and if you were divorced in Canada, you’ll also need to bring official proof of the divorce with you when you apply for a marriage licence. This can the original or court-certified copy of one of three documents: the final divorce decree, the final divorce judgement or a certificate of divorce.

If you were divorced in a country other then Canada, you’ll also need to provide additional documents to prove that you are no longer married and can legally remarry in Ontario. Since the government of Ontario needs to validate these documents, this process can take up to 4 weeks. You will need to send your completed marriage license application form along with the following documents to ServiceOntario:

  • statement of sole responsibility: for each divorce (signed by both people who are planning to get married and a witness) Download Statement of Sole Responsibility Form (PDF)
  • legal opinion letter: from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both people who plan to get married, giving reasons why the divorce or annulment should be recognized in Ontario Find a Lawyer
  • divorce decree or annulment: an original or court-certified copy in English or French. If the decree is in another language, you will need to include a translated copy and an affidavit sworn by a certified translator

Getting married outside of Ontario?

For residents of Ontario who are getting married in another province or territory in Canada, you must contact the province’s or territory’s vital statistics office for information on licensing requirements in that province or territory.

Photo: Spirits Intrigued Photography | Destination: Alberta

If you are planning to get married in another country, you may require a Marriage Letter (also known as a Search Letter or Letter of Non-Impediment) confirming that there is no record of a marriage for you registered in Ontario. You may obtain this letter by applying to the Office of the Registrar General. To get married in another country, you must contact the country’s embassy or consulate for more information.

Photo: HRM Photography | Destination: Mexico
Photo: HRM Photography | Destination: Mexico

Marriage Licence vs Marriage Certificate

After your ceremony, your officiant will give you a Record of Solemnization. This is the portion of your marriage licence that you get to keep but this is NOT a marriage certificate. A Marriage Certificate proves that a marriage has taken place. Once your ceremony is complete, your officiant will register your marriage by sending a complete and signed marriage licence to ServiceOntario. In Ontario, Marriage Certificates are issued by the Office of the Registrar General. Once the marriage has been registered, you can apply for a Marriage Certificate. The suggested wait time between wedding ceremony and application is 8 weeks.

A marriage certificate is needed for many things. While more and more women are choosing not to change their names after marriage, if you’re thinking of changing your name, you’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate. You may also need a marriage certificate to settle an estate, apply for social benefits like CPP or just show proof that you are married. Since it takes time for a marriage certificate to be processed and delivered, we suggest you order it sooner rather than just when you need it.

– information is gathered by the team at The Ring March 2019 via ServiceOntario. While we strive to make sure all our research is accurate, fees and restrictions can change at any time. Please confirm prices and details with your City Clerk’s Office to avoid unwanted surprises.

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