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What Documents Do I Need to Get Married in Canada?

marriage certificate

You’ve finally met "the one." Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about this day for months or even years. It’s so romantic! You’re head over heels for each other and cannot wait to formalize your love by getting married.

And then you both run smack-dab into Canada's Solemnization of Marriage Act. Talk about unromantic. Talk about legalese! Your enthusiastic planning process is suddenly interrupted by forms, forms, forms.

Forget about your undying love for each other. All of a sudden your wedding planning to-do list just got a lot longer because of all the legal documents you need to complete first before you tie the knot.

But don't worry - it isn't as ponderous as it looks. Sure, it isn't exactly romantic to sit there filling out paperwork. But as soon as you get it done, you can get back to dreaming about and planning for your special day together!

Read on to learn exactly what documents you will need to get married to your special someone in Canada.

An Overview of Canada's Marriage Requirements

According to the government of Canada, you have two options for getting married here: a religious service or a civil service.

Let's look at an overview of each.

Religious marriage service in Canada

If you have been dreaming about being married in the religious tradition you treasure, then a religious marriage service in Canada is the right choice for your special day.

A recognized religious official will be able to marry you if you choose this type of service. The religious official must be authorized to perform religious marriage rites in Canada, so be sure to verify this before you proceed.

Civil marriage service in Canada

Perhaps you prefer to tie the knot with a civil marriage service in Canada. In this case, you can get married at a municipal court, city hall or town hall.

Here again, just be sure the officiant is authorized to perform civil marriage ceremonies in Canada. Typically, the officiant will be a judge, municipal clerk or justice of the peace.

What Forms Do You Need to Get Married in Canada?

Once you have decided on the type of marriage service you want, religious or civil, the next step is to apply for the right forms for your type of ceremony.

There are two main types of forms required in Canada: banns and the marriage licence.


Banns are a traditional religious ritual that applies only when both you and your intended spouse are getting married for the first time.

The full name of this ritual is the "publication of banns." For many couples, this is a rite of deep significance.

Your church releases a publication of banns to recognize your intention to marry. Sometimes, before this, you stand up in front of your congregation during a worship service to formally announce your intention to marry. 

Both you and your intended spouse along with your officiant (the religious official who performs your wedding ceremony) must then sign the banns before your wedding is official.

Please note: if you or your intended spouse has been married before, it will be necessary for you to apply for a marriage licence instead.

Marriage license

When you apply for a marriage licence in Canada, it is valid for only 90 days from the date it was issued. So you definitely want to plan when you go to apply for your marriage licence to be sure it doesn't expire before your special day arrives!

You will need to visit a local town hall, city hall or municipal court office to apply for your marriage license.

When you arrive, both of you will need to each show two pieces of official government documentation. 

Here is a list of documentation types that the state of Canada will accept:

  • A valid, current passport 

  • A government-issued birth certificate citing any past name changes

  • A record of immigration

  • A Canadian Citizenship card

  • A valid driver’s licence

  • A valid Ontario photo card

You will also need to pay a fee. The amount of the fee will vary based on the Canadian province through which you apply for your marriage licence.

How Do You Get a Marriage Certificate in Canada?

You will need the help of your wedding officiant to order a Canadian marriage certificate. The marriage certificate needs to be ordered within 48 hours of your wedding service or ceremony.

Here at Dream Wedding Officiants, we take care of this for you by mailing in all the required documentation to the Ministry of Ontario.

As the law dictates, the documents will verify three important facts:

  1. The names of both parties (you and your intended spouse)

  2. The date the marriage ceremony took place

  3. The geographic location and venue where the marriage ceremony took place

Your marriage officiant will send the signed marriage licence to ServiceOntario for processing.

Six to eight weeks following the submission of the signed marriage licence, you can then order your copy of your marriage certificate.

How to Change Your Last Name Legally After You Get Married

It is important to understand that there is no legal requirement to change your last name after you get married.

However, if you wish to change your surname in Ontario, you will need to bring these three legal documents to a designated ServiceOntario centre:

  1. Marriage certificate

  2. Current photo health card

  3. Driver’s licence

Get in Touch

Are you starting to plan your special day with your intended partner? Dream Wedding Officiants will help you plan and facilitate every aspect of your perfect wedding ceremony!

Contact us online or give us a call toll-free at 1-877-510-5850.

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