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Marriage certificate: when you need it, and where to get it from

Written by Leanne Abela

Marriage certificate: when you need it, and where to get it from

When you need it

Marriage certificates represent a special part of your life. They’re also an important personal document that you should retain as it is proof of your marriage.

Your marriage certificate is not the document you and your spouse sign at your wedding ceremony. That is only a ceremonial marriage certificate given to you by your registered celebrant which cannot be used to show proof that your marriage was solemnised.

Following your wedding, your registered celebrant should have lodged your marriage legally with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages (“the Registry”). Should your application have been correct with all the appropriate paperwork attached, you would have received a document entitled “Marriage Certificate” from the Registry by email or in the mail. This is your original marriage certificate.

It is recommended that you retain at least two certified copies of your marriage certificate at all times together with the original, which should be stored in safekeeping.  One certified copy can be used for personal documentation, and the other can be used to show proof of your marriage.

For many official purposes you will be required to produce a copy of your marriage certificate issued by the Registry. For example:

  1. If you plan on legally changing your maiden name to your marital name, after your marriage, or your marital name to your maiden name, following your divorce, you will be required to produce a certified copy of your marriage certificate to the Registry together with a legal name change application. You may also then be required to produce a copy of your marriage certificate together with your change of name certificate to various government agencies, banks, utility suppliers and other businesses you are member, or client of/are engaged with.
  2. If you are planning on relocating to another country with your spouse, you may need to produce a certified copy of your marriage certificate to the relevant authority as part of your visa application.
  3. If you want to renew your passport, or apply for a new passport, using your marital name, you will need to produce a certified copy of your marriage certificate to the post office or other relevant institution. 
  4. If you are filing for a divorce, the Federal Circuit Court of Australia will need a copy, albeit not certified, of your marriage certificate, on record, before granting your divorce.

You may also need to produce proof of your marriage when applying for a government benefit, a driver’s license, photographic identification, or for when you are setting up a new bank account or another account with a government agency, if you do not have other form of proof of identity. 

Where to get it from

If you do not have your original marriage certificate, you should make an application to the Registry to receive it. The application can be completed online, or by paper, in which case you need to send the paper application to the Registry in the mail, or submit it in person. You can download or print the application form on the Registry’s website at:

The Registry will ask for details of your marriage, including the given, middle and family names of both parties, place of marriage and date of marriage. You will also be required to prove your identity by presenting your driver’s license (if it confirms your residential address) and your passport. Alternatively, you may provide your Medicare card or bank card together with a form of photographic identification confirming your residential address.

It will take approximately four weeks for your application to be processed, and for you to receive your original marriage certificate in the mail. The process will cost approximately $33 for the certificate plus postage. If you require your marriage certificate sooner than this for any reason, for example, for a visa application, you can pay a priority service fee of approximately $112 to have your application processed, and certificate received, within 5 days.

If you require advice on your Family Law matter and want to “know where you stand”, please contact one of our lawyers at Pearsons Lawyers for your free consultation on 1300 699 688.

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