New Zealand Marriage Laws

New Zealand Outline

It seems like some congratulations are in order! Because chances are, you are reading this page because you have been asked to officiate a New Zealand wedding, or you are planning to be married yourself in New Zealand. Read on and we'll walk you through all the steps you need to follow in order to get ordained online in New Zealand and solemnize a legally valid wedding.

1 How to Become an Ordained Minister in New Zealand

It seems like some congratulations are in order! Because chances are, you are reading this page because you have been asked to officiate a New Zealand wedding, or you are planning to be married yourself in New Zealand. Read on and we'll walk you through all the steps you need to follow in order to get ordained online in New Zealand and solemnize a legally valid wedding.

2 How to Officiate a Marriage in New Zealand

Now that you are ordained, there is a good chance somebody will approach you to perform your wedding! When that happens, your first move should be to get in touch with the office that issues marriage licenses in your area. When you make contact, advise them that you are an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church New Zealand Ministries, and ask them what will be required for you to perform a legal wedding ceremony in New Zealand. Please note that the law requires that you must be a New Zealand resident to perform legal weddings as a ULC ordained minister.

3 License to Marry in New Zealand

Hopefully you were able to get clear guidance from your local marriage authority, who will probably have provided you with a list of documentation that you will need to submit prior to performing the wedding ceremony to register as an ordained minister. We typically advise ministers in New Zealand to get our specially built New Zealand Celebrant Portfolio, which should include everything you need to satisfy that office. Your order will be shipped automatically from the U.S. via FedEx international shipping to your door in New Zealand, then you need only complete the paperwork therein to finalize everything. We do suggest that you ensure at least a one-month gap between wedding ceremony and the date of your order to ensure that you can receive and complete everything well in-advance of the special day and avoid any stress. If you'd like to get kitted out with additional minister accessories or apparel, or think you might benefit from some more intensive training literature, you can find plenty of other resources in the minister supplies catalog as well.

4 How to Perform a Wedding in New Zealand

And there you have it! Once you have become ordained, studied your legal responsibilities, and ordered and submitted all of your documentation, you are ready to perform the New Zealand wedding ceremony! It's so special to be able to perform a wedding for your friends and family, especially in the gorgeous settings provided by the NZ landscape. Now that you've done all of the above, you are ready to perform the wedding! New Zealand boasts one of the most active communities of online ordained ministers outside of the United States, and we are proud to be a fully legally recognized religious entity in the country of New Zealand, and is in good standing with that country's government.

We do hope you will be able to make contact with some of those folks at some point in your ministry. In the meantime, we are always here to be a resource and a shoulder for you to lean on. At the Universal Life Church we receive several calls from wedding officiants in New Zealand, even after they've learned how to perform a wedding in NZ by following the steps above, asking for some tips on how to make the ceremony as special and meaningful as possible. While solemnizing a wedding can sometimes seem like an overwhelming job, we promise that it can simultaneously be a joyful one! If you do think some additional training would put your mind at ease, we would suggest that new New Zealand wedding ministers review the wedding guides that we've published for free online. The minister training section on the whole can also provide you guidance in other ways you can effectively utilize your new status as an ordained minister in New Zealand.


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New Zealand Marriage Code

Marriage in New Zealand is governed by the Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages in The Department of Internal Affairs. It is typically reported to us that ministers of the Universal Life Church must present the documents that we make available in our aforementioend New Zealand Celebrant Portfolio.
Decide when and where you want to get married

You will need to know when and where you want to get married when you complete your application for a marriage licence. You should also choose an alternative venue in the event that the weather prevents you from marrying at your primary venue.

Choose a Marriage Celebrant

In New Zealand you must be married by an appointed marriage celebrant. This may be a Registrar of Marriages, an independent marriage celebrant, a minister of a church or a person connected with an approved organisation. Contact a Registrar of Marriages for a list of appointed marriage celebrants.

You will need to contact your marriage celebrant and agree on a time and place before applying for your marriage licence.

Get a Marriage Licence

To get a licence you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage application form. If either of you have been married or in a civil union before, and the marriage or civil union has been dissolved, you may be asked to produce evidence of the dissolution (e.g. Divorce/Dissolution Order) when you give notice to the Registrar. If your previous spouse or partner has died you do not have to produce evidence of their death, but you will have to give the date of death on the Notice of Intended Marriage.

Make a Statutory Declaration

As part of completing the application form for a marriage licence, you need to make a statutory declaration. Either you or your partner will need to make a formal statutory declaration that there is no lawful impediment to the marriage (i.e. no legal reason that you both cannot be married), that the details given are true, that both parties are not within the "prohibited degrees of relationship" and that consent has been given (where relevant).

If you live in New Zealand one of you must make this declaration in the presence of a Registrar of Marriages. Contact us for your nearest Registrar.

If both of you live outside of New Zealand:
You can send the form to the New Zealand Registrar of Marriages closest to where you intend to marry once you have completed the form, signed the statutory declaration and had it witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative. If it is convenient, you can have the declaration witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative, at our London or Sydney office. Note: only the Notice of Intended Marriage where both parties ordinarily resident outside New Zealand (BDM 58) can be signed by a Commonwealth representative.
Alternately, if you will be in New Zealand at least three working days before the ceremony (either the bride or groom, or both) you can sign the statutory declaration and have it witnessed by a Registrar of Marriages in New Zealand.
See Cheque Payments for a New Zealand Marriage Licence or New Zealand Civil Union Licence to check the locations of the Registry Offices in New Zealand. The contact details for your nearest Registrar of Marriages can be obtained by contacting us or contact the District Court for their addresses.
You should advise the Registrar of the date that you intend to collect the marriage licence (this must be at least three days after your completed form reaches the Registrar).
For more details about applying from overseas, see 'When and How to Apply for a Marriage Licence; If you both live outside New Zealand'.

Consent to Enter into a Marriage
To get married both parties to the marriage must be at least 16 years of age. If either party is 16 or 17 years of age, they must obtain consent:
You must obtain consent' from each of your guardians (usually your parents) unless they cannot be located or are, as a result of incapacity, unable to give consent.
If none of your guardians are able to give consent, you must obtain consent from a relative acting in place of a guardian, or from a Family Court Judge.
If your parents or guardians refuse consent, you can apply to a Family Court Judge for consent to get married.
The completed 'Consent to Marriage of a Minor' must be submitted with the 'Notice of Intended Marriage' form.
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When and How to Apply for a Marriage Licence
You will need to get a marriage licence from a Registrar of Marriages. To apply for a marriage licence one of the parties to the marriage must fill out the appropriate form.
If you live in New Zealand or will be in New Zealand at least three days before you intend to be married (either one or both parties) complete the Notice of Intended Marriage (BDM 60) form. You cannot complete the form online, as one of the parties must complete a statutory declaration (part of the form). The statutory declaration must be made in the presence of a Registrar of Marriages. This must be done in person.
If you both live outside New Zealand and will arrive in New Zealand less than three days before the date you want to marry, you may be able to complete most of the formalities before you arrive in New Zealand. You will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage where Parties Ordinarily Resident outside New Zealand (BDM 58) form. If you are overseas, you can complete everything on the form except the declaration, and send it (with payment) to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. When you arrive in New Zealand, you then need to visit that office, sign the declaration before a Registrar of Marriages and collect the marriage licence. Or, the declaration must either be signed by a Commonwealth Representative, and then sent (with payment) to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. If it is convenient, you can have the declaration witnessed by a Commonwealth Representative, for instance, at our London or Sydney office.
Note: only the Notice of Intended Marriage where both parties ordinarily resident outside New Zealand (BDM 58) can be signed by a Commonwealth representative.
If you wish to change the form of your relationship from a civil union to a marriage you will need to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage, change of relationship from civil union (BDM 59) form. See: Changing a Civil Union to a Marriage
Marriage licences are only available for collection during normal opening hours. A marriage licence is only valid for three months from the date of issue. During that period you are free to marry at the place specified on the marriage licence. An alternative place of marriage may be specified on the licence, e.g. in the case of bad weather.


View the New Zealand Statutes on the official state site
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