Rules for Marriage in Ireland

Rules for Marriage in Ireland

Rules for Marriage in Ireland

All couples intending to marry in Ireland must give at least 3 months notice of intention to marry, in person, to a Registrar. This can be done by making an appointment to visit any of the local Civil Registration Offices, which are offices of the HSE.

The contact numbers and opening hours for all offices can be found on the HSE website at:

Registrars of Births Deaths and Marriages

The following is a summary of the rules for getting married in Ireland.

To view a more detailed overview please visit this link

http://www.groireland.ie/getting_married.htm


SECTION 1: Preliminaries to a valid Marriage, including the Marriage Notification Process


THIS APPLIES TO ALL MARRIAGES

To contract a valid marriage in this state the parties to the marriage must:

  • have the capacity to marry each other;
  • freely consent to the marriage; and,
  • observe the marriage notification process as required by the laws of this State (detailed below).

Marriage by civil ceremony is a civil contract. Marriage by certain religious ceremonies is also recognised by civil law as being a civil contract. Persons wishing to get married by religious ceremony should approach the authorities of the religious denomination concerned for advice on how to proceed, and also make an appointment to attend their local Registrar. Those wishing to get married by civil ceremony should make an appointment to attend a Registrar of Civil Marriages. Some counties have more than one registrar; the HSE will be able to advise you of their contact details.

Click here for list of HSE Registration Offices http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/find_a_service/bdm/


1.1 Minimum Age of Marriage:


From August 1, 1996 (under the Family Law Act, 1995) the minimum age at which a person, ordinarily resident in the State, may contract a marriage valid in Irish law is eighteen years of age; whether the marriage takes place in Ireland or elsewhere. This provision also applies where one party to the proposed marriage is over 18 years of age and the other is under 18, and to all non-residents who are marrying in the State. All persons applying to marry in the State must provide a Registrar with evidence of age and identity. Failure to produce such evidence will result in refusal to proceed with the marriage. Persons aged under 18 must obtain the permission of the Circuit Family Court or the High Court to get married.

If the permission of the Circuit Family Court or High Court has not been obtained and either party to the marriage is under eighteen years of age, the Registrar or person solemnising the marriage must not proceed with the marriage ceremony. Any party to such marriage, or any Registrar or person solemnising a marriage, who is convicted of knowingly breaching the provisions regarding the minimum age for the marriage shall be liable to a fine of up to Ä635.

There is no requirement to obtain parental consent for a marriage.

1.2 The Marriage Notification Process (including documents required)

After 5th November 2007 any couple proposing to marry should begin the process by contacting their local Registration Office to make an appointment to meet the Registrar to give him/her their marriage notification. Notifications can be taken only by prior appointment with the Registrar. While only three monthsí notice is required by law, couples are advised to contact the Registrar well over three months before their intended date of marriage to ensure they can get a timely appointment. The notification details will be entered on a computerised notification system by the Registrar on the basis of the information given by the couple. When attending the Registrarís office in relation to the notification, the couple must also pay the notification fee of Ä150 and provide the Registrar with evidence of their name, address, age, civil status and nationality.

In general, all couples will be asked to produce:-

  • Passport as ID
  • Birth Certificate (must bear an apostille if it originates from outside Ireland)
  • If either party is divorced, original final decrees in respect of all previous divorces
  • If either party has a civil partnership dissolution - original dissolutions in respect of all previous civil partnerships
  • If widowed, death certificate of the previous spouse and the civil marriage certificate for their first marriage
  • If a surviving civil partner - the death certificate(s) of the previous civil partner(s) and the civil partnership registration certificate(s), and
  • If party to a civil partnership or marriage that was annulled by an Irish Court - the final decree of nullity and a letter from the relevant court confirming that no appeal was lodged,
  • Their PPS Numbers (where either or both of the parties have one)
  • Fee of Ä150 as above

Additional documentation may be required in some cases, such as where a divorce has been granted outside the State and it must be determined whether it is recognised under Irish law. The Registrar will advise what is required in each case.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE LIST IS NOT EXHAUSTIVE. ALL COUPLES SHOULD CHECK DIRECTLY WITH THE REGISTRAR, BEFORE THEIR APPOINTMENT, TO ENSURE THAT THEY HAVE ALL THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION.

In addition to their personal particulars, the couple will be requested to provide details in relation to their proposed marriage such as

  • the intended date of marriage,
  • whether they require a civil or religious ceremony,
  • the names and dates of birth of their witnesses, and
  • details of the proposed solemniser and venue.

They will also both have to complete a declaration of no impediment stating that they are not aware of any lawful impediment to the proposed marriage. A list of impediments is contained at Appendix 1 at the end of this webpage.

The Registrar will issue each party to an intended marriage, and the proposed solemniser, with an acknowledgement confirming the date of the receipt of the notification.

It should be noted that these acknowledgements are for record only and are not intended to be a licence or certificate signifying the approval of the Registrar concerned to any proposed marriage. All the other legally required marriage preliminaries, as set out in this webpage, must also be complied with.

A person who solemnises or is a party to a marriage where he/she is aware that the three monthsí notification of intention to marry has not been given is guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding Ä2,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both.

1.3 Postal Notifications

In very limited circumstances (i.e. critical illness of one of the parties or one or both parties being resident outside the State) and only by prior agreement with the Registrar, it is possible for a couple to post a marriage notification to the Registrar. However, in such cases the couple must still attend the Registrarís office in person at least 5 days before the marriage to complete their declarations of no impediment and produce the necessary documentation and particulars as set out above, and be issued with their MRF. NOTE:-Special arrangements can be made where one or both parties is seriously ill; the Registrar will advise you of these if required.

Postal notifications of intention to marry should not be returned to the General Register Office; they should be returned to the Registrar who has authorised the notification to be made by post. In such cases, if either party has been previously married, they must submit the original final divorce decree or death certificate of the former spouse along with the notification. In the first instance, couples should contact a Registrar at one of the Registration Offices on the list below to discuss the matter.†

The marriage notification can be given to any registrar. It does not have to be a Registrar in the area where the marriage is taking place, or where the couple are living. It may for example be more convenient for a couple to attend a Registrar near their place of work or business. Some counties have more than one registrar; the HSE will be able to advise you of their contact details.Whichever office you choose to attend, you MUST make a prior appointment with the Registrar in order to give three months notice of your intention to marry.

1.4 †The Marriage Registration Form (MRF)

When the Registrar is satisfied that all required details have been provided and that the couple are free to marry, he or she will issue them with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) based on the information they have provided. This is a critical document as it is effectively the civil authorisation for the marriage to proceed. All couples wishing to marry in Ireland (whether they require a religious or a civil ceremony) must first be issued with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) and any marriage that takes place without a MRF having been issued cannot be civilly registered. The MRF should be given to the registrar or religious solemniser solemnising the marriage prior to the ceremony.

It is strongly advised that couples bring all documents and information requested by the Registrar to their notification meeting, so that the entire process can be completed in one meeting and the MRF can be issued to them immediately.†

Locating your local Registrar of Marriage

Click here for list of HSE Registration Offices http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/find_a_service/bdm

NOTE: If the marriage does not take place on the date specified in the MRF, it must take place no later than 6 months from that date. Otherwise, the MRF expires and it will be necessary for the couple to repeat the entire notification process and pay the relevant fee

1.5 Exemption of some marriages from the age and notification requirements:

If one or both of the parties to the proposed marriage is under eighteen years of age, or if the provision of three months notification poses a difficulty, you may make an application to the Courts for an exemption order and the Court will then decide if the marriage should be allowed to proceed or not. Such applications are made through either the Circuit Family Court or High Court Office in the area where either of the parties reside, with whom contact should be made directly for details as to how to proceed. This is an informal procedure and you may apply in person without employing the services of a solicitor. There is no (Court) charge for such an application. For contact details of the Circuit Courts http://www.courts.ie

The Court requires applicants for exemptions to show that their applications are justified by demonstrating good reasons and also that the granting of such an application is in the interests of the parties to the intended marriage.

If the permission of the High Court or Circuit Family Court has not been obtained and either party to the marriage is under eighteen years of age, the Registrar or person solemnising the marriage must not proceed with the marriage ceremony.

Any party to such a marriage or person solemnising a marriage, who is convicted of knowingly breaching the provisions regarding the minimum age for marriage shall be liable to a fine of up to Ä635.

There is no requirement to obtain parental consent for a marriage or for the making of an application to the Courts.

In cases where an exemption from the 3 monthsí notice has been given, the couple must still attend the Registrarís office in personby appointmentat least 5 days before the marriage to complete their declarations of no impediment and produce the necessary documentation and particulars as set out above, and be issued with their MRF. Also, where an exemption is granted from the age requirements only, the couple must of course comply with the notification requirements set out in Section 1.2

SECTION 2:- The Solemnisation and Registration Process:- Requirements for a valid Marriage in Ireland

The following is a broad summary of the procedure for marriages in this State. It applies to both Irish citizens and non-Irish citizens. In all cases the preliminaries outlined at section 1 above must also be complied with and a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) must have been issued by a Registrar and given by the couple to the person solemnising the marriage.


2.1 MARRIAGE BY CIVIL CEREMONY:


Marriages by civil ceremony may take place at the Office of a Registrar of Civil Marriagesorat a venue which has been agreed between the couple and the Registrar and approved in advance by the Registrar. If you wish to have a civil ceremony at a venue other than a Registry Office, you must contact the Registration Office in the area where the venue is located and apply to have the venue approved for the solemnisation of your civil marriages. This may involve the Registrar making an inspection of the venue. In order that the venue can be inspected in good time for your intended marriage, it is recommended that you make these arrangements well in advance of your notification appointment with the Registrar.†

Please note there will be additional fees for civil marriages at venues other than registry offices. The Registrar will advise you of what fees are due when you are giving your notification.

Couples undergoing a civil ceremony must have been issued with a MRF by a registrar, not necessarily the same registrar who is performing the ceremony. As of 5th November 2007, there are no longer any residency requirements for civil marriages. The ceremony must be performed in the presence of two witnesses who should be both over 18 years of age.

At the end of the ceremony, the Registrar, the couple and the witnesses must all sign the MRF. The marriage will then be civilly registered by the Registrar on the basis of the information contained in the MRF as soon as possible after the ceremony.

2.2 MARRIAGE BY RELIGIOUS CEREMONY

Marriages by religious ceremony may be performed according to the customs and ceremonies of the church or religious body which is carrying out the ceremony. However, all the civil requirements set out in Section 1 must first be complied with and the couple must have been issued with a Marriage Registration Form by a registrar which they must show to the person solemnising the marriage. The solemniser must also be a registered solemniser, nominated by his or her church or religious body, and it is the responsibility of the couple to ensure that the person they wish to solemnise their marriage is on the Register of Solemnisers.††††††††††††††

Temporary registrations of solemnisers of religious marriages are possible for those who only wish to solemnise a specific marriage or to solemnise marriages for a specific period of time.

The venue for a religious marriage is a matter for the authorities of the church or religious body under whose auspices the marriage is being performed.

All marriages, civil or religious, must take place at venues which are open to the public

The ceremony must be performed in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18 years of age. Both parties must make two declarations:- a) that neither of them knows of any impediment to the marriage; and b) that they accept each other as husband and wife.

At the end of the ceremony, the solemniser, the couple, and the witnesses must all sign the MRF. The completed MRF should be given to a registrar (not necessarily the registrar who issued it) within 1 month of the ceremony, so that the marriage can be civilly registered. Please note that you will not be able to obtain a civil marriage certificate until such time as the MRF has been returned to a registrar and the marriage is civilly registered.

2.3 USE OF INTERPRETERS

The services of an interpreter must be obtained where any of the parties to the marriage, the witnesses or the solemniser does not have sufficient knowledge of the language of the ceremony to understand it.† It is the responsibility of the couple to arrange this service.


SECTION 3: RE-MARRIAGE OF PREVIOUSLY MARRIED PERSONS AND MARRIAGE OUTSIDE IRELAND:


3.1 - Re-marriage of persons who have been previously married:


If either party has been married previously (i.e. is divorced or widowed), it is necessary for that party to produce either a Divorce Decree (Absolute) or a Death Certificate, as appropriate.

If either of the parties to a proposed marriage were previously married, or in a civil partnership this fact should be brought to the attention of the Registrar of Marriages at the time that the notification to marry is being given by the parties to the proposed marriage.

3.1.1 In the case of a divorce granted by a Court of another Statethe following procedure applies.

-††††††† If the Divorce Decree is in a foreign language, an English translation of the Divorce should be provided, duly certified by a relevant official body or recognised translation agency. In the case of a foreign divorce, consideration is given to the question of whether the divorce is recognisable under Irish law.

-††††††† Where the divorce comes within EU regulations, it is sufficient to confirm that both parties to the divorce were notified of the proceedings and had an opportunity to give evidence to the court which granted the divorce.

-††††††† Where EU regulations do not apply, certain information as to place of birth, countries of residence and other relevant facts must be supplied on a questionnaire provided by the Registrar. The information is then forwarded to the General Register Office, whose consent must be obtained before the ceremony can take place.

If a legal dissolution of a civil partnership is granted outside Ireland, it will be recognised under Irish law if the Minister of Justice and Law Reform has made an order recognising the appropriate class of legal relationships in the jurisdiction in which the dissolution was granted.

The rules regarding the recognition of foreign divorces under Irish law are complex and it is advised that specific enquiries in that regard be addressed to the Marriages Unit of the General Register Office at 090-6632945/6/7/8/9 or 6632970 through our website www.groireland.ie.

3.1.2 In the case of a divorce granted by the Irish Court the Court decree in relation to the divorce should be presented to the appropriate Registrar of marriages at the point in time when the notification of intention to marry is being given by both parties.

It should be noted that a distinction exists between nullity, separation and divorce and the broad distinctions are outlined below:

  • if no valid marriage existed in the first instance a decree of nullity may be sought from the Irish Courts - a civil decree of nullity means that the first marriage had no legal effect and the parties concerned are free, in civil law, to marry.
  • If a valid marriage is in place and a couple separate (by judicial means or by agreement) re-marriage of the parties concerned is not permitted;
  • If the parties to a valid marriage subsequently divorce (and this divorce is granted by an Irish court or recognised by this State) the parties concerned may re-marry in civil law.

The procedures involved in seeking decrees of nullity, separations or divorces are a matter for the appropriate Courts and Registrars of Marriage do not have any function in regard to those procedures. Contact should be made directly with the appropriate Courts Offices.

It should be noted that an annulment granted by the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church does not have any effect in civil law and persons who have obtained a church annulment only are not free to remarry in civil law.

3.2 Marriage outside of Ireland:

Marriages which take place outside the State are normally registered in the country in which they occur and are NOT registered in Ireland. Persons marrying abroad should ensure that all the legal requirements of the country in question are met, and should enquire as to the procedure for obtaining a marriage certificate from that country - the relevant Embassy and/or religious authorities may be able to advise.

In particular, the Italian Embassy, (63 Northumberland Road, Dublin 4, tel: +353 (0) 1 660 17 44) can provide useful information on marriage in Rome. If a marriage certificate is in a foreign language, it should normally be accepted for official purposes in this State if accompanied by an official translation, or a translation from a recognised translation agency. If one or both of the parties to a marriage contracted abroad is or are ordinarily resident in the State, both of them must be over 18 for the marriage to be valid in Irish law.

Certificates of Freedom to marry (also known as 'Civil Letters of Freedom', "Certificates de Coutume" or "Certificates of Nulla Osta") which state that a person is not married, may be needed for marriage in some foreign countries, and are not issued by the General Register Office. Irish citizens living in Ireland wishing to obtain such a Certificate should apply to the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs, 72/76 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Tel.: +353 (0) 1 4082568. Irish Citizens living abroad should contact their nearest Irish Embassy.

The General Register Office has no function in advising on, or in the registration of, marriages which take place outside the State. There is no facility for registering such marriages in the State, and the civil marriage certificate would normally be accepted as the legal proof of the marriage. In cases where a serious doubt exists as to whether the marriage is recognised in Irish law, legal advice may be sought and an application made to the Circuit Family Court for a ruling under Section 29 of the Family Law Act, 1995 as to whether the marriage is recognisable under Irish law.


USEFUL ADDRESSES & TELEPHONE NUMBERS:

Registrar-General of Marriages, General Register Office, Government Offices, Convent Road, Roscommon, LoCall 1890-252 076 or 0906-632900;

Department of Foreign Affairs, Consular Section, 80 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Tel. +353 (0) 1 4082568 (Civil Letter of Freedom for marriage abroad);

United Kingdom Divorce Registry, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LP. Tel: +44 207 9476000

General Register Office (N.I), Oxford House, 49-55 Chichester Street Belfast BT1 4HL, Tel. +44 (0) 4890 252 000;

The Embassy of Italy, 63 Northumberland Road, Dublin 4; Tel: +353 (0) 1 660 17 44;

The Embassy of the United Kingdom, 31 Merrion Rd, Dublin 4; Tel. +353 (0) 1 2053700

The addresses of the other embassies appear in the telephone directory under Diplomatic & Consular Missions, Embassies.

Registrars of Marriage

Click here for list of HSE Registration Offices http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/find_a_service/bdm

Appendix I

Checklist for couples applying to marry

- Make appointment with Registrar to give notification of intention to marry (notification must be given at least 3 months in advance of ceremony; couples are advised to do so at the earliest possible stage)

Documents Required when giving Notification:-

- Passport as photo ID (if not available, you should discuss this with the Registrar when making your appointment);

- If either party is divorced, original final decrees in respect of all previous divorces

- If either party is widowed, death certificate of the previous spouse and the civil marriage certificate for the first marriage

- If either party had a previous civil partnership dissolved, original final decree of dissolution in respect of all previous registered civil partnerships

- If either party is a surviving civil partner, a death certificate of the civil partner and the civil partnership certificate.

(Additional documentation may be required in some cases, such as where a divorce has been granted outside the State and it must be determined whether it is recognised under Irish law. The Registrar will advise what is required in each case).

Additional details required:-

- the intended date of marriage,

- whether the couple require a civil or religious ceremony,

- the names and dates of birth of the two witnesses, and

- details of the proposed solemniser and venue

- PPS No if you have one (normally applicable only to Irish residents)

Documents Required When Notification Process Complete

- Declarations of no impediment (these is given to the couple by the Registrar when they are giving notification and should be signed by couple in Registrarís presence);

- †

- Marriage Registration Form (MRF) (this is issued to the couple by the Registrar when the notification process is complete). This is the coupleís civil licence to marry. It is a crucial document and your marriage cannot be civilly registered without it.

Registering Your Marriage

- Ensure that the MRF is signed by both parties, both witnesses and the solemniser immediately after the ceremony;

- Return your MRF to a Registrar (from list below) within a month of the ceremony, so it can be civilly registered.

Click here for list of HSE Registration Offices http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/find_a_service/bdm

Appendix 2 - Impediments to Marriage

  • One or both of the parties to the intended marriage will be under the age of 18 years of age, on the date of marriage (unless an exemption from this provision is granted by the Circuit Family Court or High Court).
  • One or both of the parties to the intended marriage is, or both are, already party to a subsisting marriage or a subsisting civil partnership.
  • One of both parties is incapable by reason of intellectual disability or mental illness of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage contract (a medical report is required to establish the facts in such cases.)
  • The parties are of the same sex
  • The civil partnership would be void by virtue of the prohibited degrees of relationship and affinity.

Prohibited Degrees of Kindred and Affinity

A man may not marry his:

  1. Grandmother
  2. Grandfather's Wife
  3. Wife's Grandmother
  4. Father's sister
  5. Mother's sister
  6. Father's brother's wife
  7. Mother's brother's wife
  8. Wife's father's sister
  9. Wife's Mother's Sister
  10. Mother
  11. Stepmother
  12. Wife's mother
  13. Daughter
  14. Wife's daughter
  15. Son's wife
  16. Sister
  17. Son's daughter
  18. Daughter's daughter
  19. Son's son's wife
  20. Daughter's son's wife
  21. Wife's son's daughter
  22. Wife's daughter's daughter
  23. Brother's daughter
  24. Sister's daughter
  25. Brother's son's wife
  26. Sister's son's wife
  27. Wife's brother's daughter
  28. Wife's sister's daughter

A woman may not marry her:

  1. Grandfather
  2. Grandmother's Husband
  3. Husband's grandfather
  4. Father's brother
  5. Mother's brother
  6. Father's sister's husband
  7. Mother's sister's husband
  8. Husband's father's brother
  9. Husband's mother's brother
  10. Father
  11. Stepfather
  12. Husband's father
  13. Son
  14. Husband's son
  15. Daughter's husband
  16. Brother
  17. Son's son
  18. Daughter's son
  19. Son's daughter's husband
  20. Daughter's daughter's husband
  21. Husband's son's son
  22. Husband's daughter's son
  23. Brother's son
  24. Sister's son
  25. Brother's daughter's husband
  26. Sister's daughter's husband
  27. Husband's brother's son
  28. Husband's sister's son

Capacity to Marry

A marriage solemnised between persons either of whom is under the age of 18 years is not valid unless an exemption from this provision is granted by the Circuit Family Court or High Court.

Monogamy

Marriage is a union between one man and one woman. If at the time of the marriage ceremony either party is already validly married to a third party, the marriage is void.

Mental Illness/Handicap

One or both parties is incapable by reason of mental handicap or illness of understanding the nature and effect of the marriage contract (a medical report is required to establish the facts in such cases);

Sex

One party to a marriage must be male and the other female.

Prohibited Degrees of Kindred and Affinity

A man may not marry his

1. Grandmother 2. Grandfatherís Wife
3. Wifeís Grandmother 4. Fatherís Sister
5. Motherís Sister 6. Fatherís Brotherís Wife
7. Motherís Brotherís Wife 8. Wifeís Fatherís Sister
9. Wifeís Motherís Sister 10. Mother
11. Stepmother 12. Wifeís Mother
13. Daughter 14. Wifeís Daughter
15. Sonís Wife 16. Sister
17. Sonís daughter 18. Daughterís daughter
19. Sonís sonís wife Daughterís sonís wife
21. wifeís son's daughter† 22† Wifeís Daughterís Daughter
23. Brotherís Daughter† 24. Sisterís Daughter
25. Brotherís sonís wife 26. Sisterís sonís wife
27. Wifeís Brotherís Daughter 28 Wifeís sisterís daughter

A woman may not marry her

1. Grandfather2. Grandmotherís husband
3. Husbandís grandfather4. Fatherís brother
5. Motherís brother6. Fatherís sisterís husband
7. Motherís sisterís husband8. Husbandís fatherís brother
9. Husbandís motherís brother10. Father
11. Stepfather12. Husbandís father
13. Son 14. Husbandís son
15. Daughterís husband†16. Brother
17. Sonís son†††18. Daughterís son
19. Sonís daughterís husband20. Daughterís daughterís husband
21. Husbandís sonís son 22. Husbandís daughterís son
23. Brotherís son.24. Sisterís son
25. Brotherís daughterís husband29. Sisterís daughterís husband
27. Husbandís brotherís son.28. Husbandís sisterís son

General Note: If you require further information please contact your local Health Service Executive Registration office, Civil Registrar's Office or The General Register Office, Government Buildings, Convent Road, Roscommon, Tel: LoCall 1890 252076 or +353 (0) 90-6632945/7/8/9, 6632964, or 6632970.