Marriage and the law
Make sure you meet legal requirements when getting married.
There are certain requirements that make a marriage legal when getting married in NSW, including who performs the wedding ceremony.
There may be other requirements if you’re getting married interstate or overseas.
Who can get married
You do not have to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident to get married in Australia.
To get married in any state or territory in Australia, including NSW, you must:
- not be already married
- not be marrying an immediate family member
- be able to understand what marriage means and freely give your consent to marry
- be married by an authorised marriage celebrant
If one of you is under 18
You must be at least 18 years old to get married, unless one of you is aged between 16 and 18 and:
- you have court approval by a judge or magistrate to marry
- consent by your parent or guardian has been given or dispensed with
Learn more about the rules to get married in Australia at the Attorney-General’s Department.
To get legally married in Australia:
- complete a notice of intended marriage form (PDF 883.06KB) and give it to your celebrant between 1 to 18 months before the wedding
- show your celebrant documents that prove your date and place of birth, identity, and that any previous marriages have ended
- sign a declaration that there are no legal reasons preventing you from marrying
- your celebrant will perform the official ceremony on your wedding day, including certain words required by law that make the marriage legal
- sign 3 copies of the marriage certificate on the day of the wedding, along with your celebrant and witnesses
- your celebrant will register the marriage with the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state or territory that the ceremony took place
- your celebrant can apply for an official marriage certificate on your behalf when they register your wedding, or
- you can apply for a marriage certificate from the registry of births, deaths and marriages in the state or territory where you were married
You can find more detailed information on what’s involved when you get married:
- by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages in either a registry wedding or a micro wedding
- in a civil or religious ceremony
Some couples enter into a prenuptial agreement before they get married. It’s a legal agreement that says how assets will be split if the relationship ends.
In legal terms, it is known as a binding financial agreement.
To be valid, both parties need to get independent legal advice before signing the agreement.
The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages do not provide any services in relation to divorce.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has information about:
- separation and divorce
- how to get proof of divorce, if you're already divorced
When applying for a divorce, the court will ask to see a copy of your official marriage certificate.
If you were married in NSW, you can find out how to apply for a copy of your marriage certificate.
If you were married in a state or territory other than NSW, you can find out where to apply for a copy of your interstate marriage certificate.