Hong Kong is an economic powerhouse and one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations. No wonder then that getting married here will be on the list of many — even foreigners.
For anyone eager to get married in the country, there are laws to abide by. But the process is smooth, hassle-free and quick. All that the parties wanting to marry have to do is follow the rules and you will be hitched without any issues. Want to know more? Here is a guide to getting married in Hong Kong.
Give a Notice of Intended Marriage
A Notice of Intended Marriage is a legal document stating the intention of the parties to marry. It can be submitted by either one of the marrying parties. The notice must be given in the prescribed format in Form MR1(S) to the Registrar of Marriages either directly or through a civil celebrant of marriages. As per the law, the notice must be given at least 15 days before the date of nuptials but not earlier than three months. This means that a Notice of Intended Marriage is valid for three months only, within which the marriage should be solemnised. If the registrar is satisfied with all statutory obligations in the submitted notice, a Certificate of Registrar of Marriages shall be issued which enables the two parties to marry within three months from the date of giving of the notice.
If in case three months have elapsed from the submission of Notice of Intended Marriage and the marriage hasn’t taken place, a fresh notice will have to be submitted. Notice can also be given outside Hong Kong if the parties are residing overseas but intend to marry in the country.
Submitting the Notice
You can give the Notice of Intended Marriage by booking an appointment online or using the 24-hour telephone booking system at the telephone number 3102-3883. The notice has to be submitted in person by either one of the marrying parties at the selected marriage registry/office on the scheduled date and time. Notice can also be given through a Civil Celebrant of Marriages.
If you are filing your Notice of Intended Marriage online, it is also appropriate to file Form MR21B, which is the Information Required for Marriage Registration. Otherwise, this form will have to be submitted in person on the scheduled date with the Registrar.
The party appearing at the office of the Registrar for submitting the Notice must carry supporting documents of both self and spouse. These include a Hong Kong Identity Card (only for Hong Kong residents), a valid travel document (for non-Hong Kong residents) and an original/certified copy of the divorce paper (if either party is a divorced person).
A prescribed fee of HK$305 will have to be paid by cheque. (Cash is not allowed.) The cheque can be personal or company, and addressed to “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”.
Selecting date and time of marriage at registry
In case you want to marry at the registry on a day and time of your choosing, you will have to book an appointment within 14 days before the three months from the date of marriage. The date of appointment, however, won’t be earlier than the first working day from the three-month period but you will get a priority number to pick your time slot for marriage if available. When you reach the office of the registrar on the appointed date, you will be arranged per your priority number and allowed to select a time slot.
In case you do not have a preferred date of marriage and neither have any specific intent to reserve a marriage hall or have missed the 14-day deadline to get the priority, you can still select a date and time subject to the availability of the marriage quota left at the registry.
Depending on which registry you are submitting the notice to, the number of halls will vary from one to two. Note that each hall has a different seating and standing capacity.
If you opt to marry at the office of the registrar during office hours, you will have to deposit a fee of HK$715. For outside of normal office hours (including Sunday), the fee is HK$1,935.
Collecting Certificate of Registrar of Marriages
After the exhibition of 15 days from the submission of notice, the registrar shall issue the Certificate of Registrar of Marriages. This is very important as no marriage can be conducted even at a licensed place of worship without presenting this proof.
If the place of marriage is the registry, be there well ahead of time on the appointed day. Witnesses will have to be present at the time of marriage. The Registrar or the civil celebrant, as the case may be, will read out section 21 of the Marriage Ordinance — the marriage oath. The marriage would thus be solemnised.
Some points of note:
The minimum age for getting married under Hong Kong law is 16 years.
Even foreign nationals can get married in Hong Kong but the rules for marriage will remain the same starting with the procedure for giving a Notice of Intended Marriage.
In case you and your partner do not reside in Hong Kong but intend to get married in the SAR, you have to request for a copy of Notice of Intended Marriage form and information sheet “Information Required for Registration of Marriage” from the Marriage Registration and Records Office. This can also be done via email to the Immigration Department at the firstname.lastname@example.org
The postal address is:
The Marriage Registration and Records Office
3/F, Low Block
Queensway Government Offices
You will then have to send the completed documents and supporting documents along with a bank draft of HK$305 payable to “The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” either by airmail, via your contact person in Hong Kong or civil celebrant of marriages. An additional bank handling commission of HK$100 has to be made if the bank draft is not drawable in Hong Kong currency. Airmail can be made six months before the date of intended marriage but the process of the application will begin only as per the rule, which is three months before the date of intended marriage.
(Main and featured images: JAN Pictures/@janpictures/Unsplash)