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It is a beautiful summer’s day in Australia. It could be Melbourne, Victoria… or somewhere in Tasmania, or sunny Queensland, deep in the Northern Territory, in South Australia, in Western Australia… The bride and groom hear those astonishing words “You may now kiss the bride” striking like a bell through their happy miasma, and take that first kiss as husband and wife. And as the strains of music rise, the celebrant ushers the couple to the signing table…

It’s the signing of the register, when the marriage certificate will be signed to complete the legal formalities of marriage.

Marriage Certificates – hows many copies and why?

In Australia, the couple are required to sign three copies of the marriage certificate. One of these is a “pretty” document, known as the Party Certificate and also known as “Form 15”. This is an official document and will have a unique registration number/serial number.

The Party Certificate, once signed as necessary, is handed by the authorised celebrant to the newly married couple for their own records.

The second copy has on its reverse side the Declaration Of No Legal Impediment To Marriage. This copy of the Marriage Certificate is processed by the Registry so that the marriage will be registered.

The third copy is that retained by the authorised celebrant (the “Marriage Register” copy). It is usually kept in an official hard-bound or leather-bound Marriage Register. If it eventuates that anything goes wrong with the Official copy, if the Registry requires this information for any reason, the authorised celebrant (as per the Marriage Regulations) is able to provide this copy to the Registry.

Who Signs the Marriage Certificates?

The signing of the register (that is, the signing of the three copies of the marriage certificate) requires the signatures of the following people:

  1. firstly, the bride and bridegroom,
  2. then the two witnesses, and
  3. finally the authorised celebrant.

This order of signing must not be altered. That is, the groom may sign first, followed by the bride, or vice-versa, but both parties (bride and groom) must sign before the two witnesses can do so. Either witness may sign first once the couple have signed. The lam bang cap 3 authorised celebrant will sign last.

Which Marriage Certificate Do We Need For a New Passport?

For most official or legal purposes, the couple will require a Standard Certificate of Marriage. This will be a stamped and printed copy issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (known as either the Registry or the BDM). It is not automatically handed to the couple; it must be applied for by the couple from the Registry.

The Party Certificate is an official document but although it is proof of marriage, it may not constitute sufficient proof for a particular case in point. For example, it is not sufficient proof of marriage in relation to identity. That is why the Standard Certificate of Marriage will be required for instances such as passport application, updating your driver licence/bank account/Medicare details, etc.

What About Registering Our Marriage In Another Country?

A marriage solemnized in Australia will be valid overseas. (Of course check with your respective country in case of any specific details or difficulties.) To provide the required evidence for a marriage to be recognized in another country, the couple cannot use the Party Certificate; rather, they will need the Standard Certificate of Marriage. This certificate will need to be recognized by another country as an official document whose signatures by Australian officials are genuine, and must therefore also be given either an Apostille or an Authentication certificate.

If the overseas country is a member of the Hague Convention, the certificate must be given an Apostille. If not, it must be given an Authentication. This means the document has been legalised.

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