A Comprehensive Guide To Registering And Solemnising A Civil Marriage In Singapore

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Knowledge & Insights

Want to know what goes into the solemnisation and registration of civil marriage in Singapore beyond just the familiar concept of marriage itself?

While many are acquainted with the idea of civil marriage, delving into the intricacies of the process can uncover a world of legal procedures and formalities that are essential to ensure the validity of the union.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to the procedures involved in solemnising and registering a civil marriage in Singapore. Understanding these is essential for those planning to tie the knot in a non-religious, legal context.

What Is Civil Marriage In Singapore?

Civil marriage in Singapore is a legally recognised union between two individuals conducted in a non-religious, secular context. It is a formal and binding commitment that carries legal rights and responsibilities, including inheritance, property ownership, and more.

To engage in a civil marriage in Singapore, couples must follow specific procedures, including marriage registration and solemnisation. This process ensures the marriage is legally recognised and the couple enjoys a marital union’s legal benefits and protections.

Registering Vs Solemnisation?

Registering your marriage is the process of filing and verifying legal documents about your marriage in preparation for solemnisation.

Meanwhile, solemnisation is the moment when your marriage becomes official, marked by an official wedding ceremony. This significant event is officiated by a chosen solemniser who plays a crucial role in verifying the necessary legal documents and ensuring that both parties willingly consent to the marriage.

The final step in the solemnisation process involves signing the Certificate of Marriage. It’s worth noting that this solemnisation can occur in person at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) or at an alternative venue, or even through a virtual video link.

It’s important to differentiate solemnisation from any religious ceremonies or engagement celebrations. While these events may complement the marriage journey, they do not grant legal marital status. They should ideally follow the solemnisation, never precede it.

If you’re a non-Muslim couple, this article specifically focuses on the registration process for civil marriages at the ROM. However, if you’re a Muslim couple, take note that you must register the marriage at the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) instead.

Eligibility Criteria To Register Civil Marriages 

Before registering a civil marriage in Singapore, it’s essential to be aware of the eligibility criteria that must be met to ensure a smooth and legally valid process. The following are the key requirements and considerations:

  • Under Singaporean marriage laws, civil marriage is defined as the union between one man and one woman.
  • Both parties involved must be at least 21 years old at the time of registration.
    • Individuals below the age of 21 must secure consent from their parents or legal guardians and participate in a compulsory Marriage Preparation Programme as prerequisites for marriage.
    • Furthermore, those under the age of 18 must obtain a Special Marriage Licence issued by the Minister for Social and Family Development.
  • Neither party can be currently married to any other person.
    • Any previous marriage must be legally dissolved, and divorcees intending to remarry must disclose details of any existing maintenance orders, including the promptness of payments, if applicable.
  • At least one of the individuals must be a non-Muslim to be eligible for civil marriage registration. If both parties are Muslim, they should follow the Muslim marriage process.
  • The couple cannot be closely related to each other. Prohibited relationships are outlined here.
  • Either of the parties must have stayed in Singapore for at least 31 continuous days before submitting a marriage application to the Registry of Marriages (ROM). These days do not need to occur immediately before the application and can have taken place in a single trip to Singapore in the past.
  • If you are a Singapore Citizen planning to marry a foreigner and intend to reside long-term in Singapore after marriage, it is advisable to undergo the Pre-Marriage Long Term Visit Pass Assessment (PMLA) by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) before your marriage. This is essential to ensure your marriage application does not breach any work permit conditions.
  • If one or both parties hold work or long-term immigration passes in Singapore, you must provide a valid pass issued by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) or ICA for verification during your appointment with ROM.
  • For couples holding short-term visit passes in Singapore, additional documentation is required:
    • Letter of No Impediment to Marriage from your respective home countries’ embassies or government authorities, including particulars of both parties (name, date of birth, nationality, religion, and passport numbers).
      This letter should not be dated more than 3 months from the intended date of solemnisation and must be authenticated.
    • Marriage record/marital status/single status document from the relevant country/countries (other than the country of origin) for the party who has resided for more than 6 months in the past 5 years.
      This document demonstrates that no marriage was contracted while in that country/countries and must also be authenticated.
  • All documents must be originals or certified true copies. Any documents that are not in English, Mandarin, Malay, or Tamil must be translated into English by a certified translator before submission to ROM.
  • If both parties have already solemnised their marriage overseas or before September 15, 1961, you may register your marriage via the registration e-Service.

What Constitutes The Essentials Of A Legitimate Civil Marriage In Singapore?

For a civil marriage to attain legal recognition in Singapore, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The marriage must be officiated by either the Registrar of Marriages or an individual authorised with a licence to solemnise marriages.
  2. It must be carried out under the authority of either a valid marriage licence issued by the Registrar or a legitimate Special Marriage Licence granted by the Minister.
  3. The ceremony must occur in the presence of at least two trustworthy witnesses, who can be chosen from your circle of friends or family members aged 21 or above.
  4. The individual conducting the solemnisation must be assured of both parties’ voluntary and free consent to the marriage.

What To Do Before The Registration And Solemnisation Of A Civil Marriage

Before proceeding with the registration and solemnisation of your civil marriage, it’s essential to make some key decisions and arrangements. Here’s what you need to consider:

Choosing The Venue For Solemnisation

You can decide whether you want to solemnise your marriage at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) or at an external location of your choice.

Solemnisation At ROM

If you opt for ROM solemnisation, your choice of slots will depend on the availability of the booking schedule, which is allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Solemnisation Outside ROM

Should you prefer an alternative venue outside ROM, you can select your preferred date, time, and location for the solemnisation. However, there are specific steps to follow:

  1. Confirm the solemnisation’s date, time and venue.
  2. Consult the List of Licensed Solemnisers and choose a suitable solemniser from the provided list.
  3. Inform your selected solemniser about your wedding plans, including the date, time, and venue. Doing this at least 3 to 4 months before your chosen date is recommended since the Notice of Marriage can be filed up to 3 months in advance.
  4. Access the Solemniser Consent Form. Then download and print the document.
  5. Arrange a meeting with your chosen solemniser to have them sign the consent form. Additionally, obtain the contact information of their designated buddy solemniser, who serves as a backup solemniser for unforeseen circumstances.

Steps To Register A Civil Marriage In Singapore

Step 1: Filing A Notice Of Marriage

The initial step in registering your marriage involves filing a Notice of Marriage, sometimes informally referred to as the “marriage application.” Here’s what you need to know:

  • The Notice of Marriage must be submitted between 21 days to 3 months before the scheduled solemnisation date, falling within this specific timeframe is crucial.
  • Submitting the Notice of Marriage is typically done online, and you’ll need to gather the following documents beforehand:
  1. Identification documents for the bride, groom, and two witnesses (NRICs for Singapore Citizens or PRs, or passports for foreigners).
  2. If your marriage solemnisation is outside the Registry of Marriages (ROM), you’ll need to provide details of the date, time, and venue of the solemnisation, along with your solemniser’s name and licence number.
  3. Prepare payment fees, which amount to S$42 for civil marriages where at least one Singapore Citizen or PR. If both parties are foreigners, the amount is S$380.
  4. If either you or your future spouse were previously married, you must have the death certificate of the late spouse or a divorce certificate, as applicable.

Once the Notice of Marriage has been successfully filled, you will receive a Summary of Notice of Marriage outlining the necessary documents for the ROM appointment to verify your records and complete the statutory declaration for marriage (go to step 3).

Make sure to print a copy of the Summary of Notice of Marriage and take note of the date and time for your appointment at the ROM.

It’s important to note that the Notice of Marriage cannot be cancelled, and if you do not marry within 3 months after filing, the notice becomes void. In such cases, you must submit a new notice to the ROM if you wish to proceed with the marriage.

Step 2: (For Minors) Attending The Mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme And/Or Applying For A Special Marriage Licence

For individuals aged 18 to 21 intending to register a civil marriage, there are specific requirements to meet:

  • A couple in this age group must participate in the mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme, which will be discussed during the interview. The interview will be conducted with a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) worker.
  • Additionally, if one party is below 18 years old, the couple must attend the Marriage Preparation Programme. They also need to apply for a Special Marriage Licence and get written consent from their parents or guardians for the marriage.

Parents or guardians may sometimes be required to participate in parts of the Marriage Preparation Programme.

Step 3: Verification Of Documents And Statutory Declaration (VD/SD)

The next crucial step involves attending a VD/SD appointment at the ROM. Here’s what to expect:

  1. During this appointment, your marriage application documents (as mentioned in step 1) will be verified, and you will make a statutory declaration confirming your eligibility to marry.
  2. The VD/SD appointment can be conducted in person or via a video link.
  3. The prospective bride and groom must be present for this appointment.
  4. If attending in person, the date and time for the VD/SD appointment will be provided in the Summary of Notice of Marriage, and you should prepare the required documents accordingly.
  5. Alternatively, a ROM officer will contact you at least 2 weeks before the appointment for video link appointments. You will receive pre-filled VD/SD documents and a video link for the appointment.
  6. Minors will receive their VD/SD appointment details only after they completed the mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme with the ROM. The presence of parents or guardians is essential to provide consent to the marriage in such cases.

The VD/SD process typically takes 15 to 20 minutes (excluding any queue time for in-person appointments). Following the appointment, you must collect specific documents from the ROM if your solemnisation is scheduled to occur outside the ROM.

  • Confirmation of Marriage Licence
  • Certificate of Marriage (white and coloured copies)
  • Marriage folder
  • ROM self-addressed prepaid envelope

The ROM will notify you when these documents are ready for collection.

Alternatively, for video link solemnisations, the ROM will mail a copy of the Certificate of Marriage to the bride, groom, solemniser and witnesses.

Regardless of whether you collect your documents from the ROM, it’s essential to re-confirm the solemnisation appointment with your chosen solemniser. For video link solemnisations, your solemniser will also provide you with the necessary video link for the ceremony.

Steps To Solemnise A Civil Marriage

Upon successfully completing all the preceding steps, the final procedures on your wedding day ensure a seamless solemnisation ceremony. During this momentous event, the bride and groom, your two credible witnesses, and the chosen solemniser are key individuals.

Remember to have the identification documents of the bride, groom, and witnesses at hand for the solemnisation.

Suppose the solemnisation occurs outside of the ROM or via video link. In that case, you must also bring the additional documents received from the ROM earlier (refer to step 3 in the procedure to register your civil marriage above).

These documents are vital for the solemnisation to proceed, so ensure they are readily available. Wedding rings, while optional, can also be included.

The solemnisation ceremony itself typically lasts approximately 10 to 20 minutes when conducted outside the ROM or via video link, or a shorter 5 minutes if held within the ROM premises.

Step 1: Verification Of Documents And Consent Confirmation

During the ceremony, the solemniser initiates the process by verifying all presented documents and confirming that the bride and groom willingly enter the marriage. At this juncture, the couple may choose to exchange wedding rings.

Step 2: Signing And Receipt Of The Certificate Of Marriage

Following the consent confirmation, the bride, groom, the two witnesses, and the solemniser proceed to sign the Certificates of Marriage.

As the ceremony concludes, the solemniser pronounces the couple as husband and wife, handing the Certificate of Marriage (coloured copy) to the bride, thereby successfully completing the solemnisation ceremony.

Then, the solemniser will mail the Certificate of Marriage (signed white copy) to the ROM on the same day.

For couples opting for a video link solemnisation, here are the additional steps:

  1. Email your white copies of the signed Certificate of Marriage to the ROM.
  2. Use the prepaid envelope to mail the signed Certificate of Marriage (original white copies) to the ROM.

Upon receiving all the signed white copies, the ROM will proceed with registering your marriage and subsequently send you the coloured Certificate of Marriage duly signed by your solemniser.

Conclusion About Civil Marriage In Singapore

Civil marriage in Singapore is a significant and legally binding commitment, marked by a series of meticulous steps and procedures.

From the Notice of Marriage to the solemnisation ceremony, each phase underscores the importance of love and partnership, ensuring that couples enjoy marriage’s legal rights and protections.

Should you ever require guidance or assistance with the legal processes of civil marriage in Singapore, Singapore Family Lawyer is here to provide expert support.

Claim your free 30-minute consultation today. Let our experienced legal professionals help you navigate this meaningful journey confidently and clearly, ensuring that your love story is celebrated with the utmost legality and care.

Frequently Asked Questions About Civil Marriage In Singapore

What Happens If One Party In A Civil Marriage Is Unable To Attend The VD/SD Appointment In Person Or Via Video Link?

If one party cannot attend the VD/SD appointment personally, they can provide a power of attorney to a representative to attend on their behalf. However, the absent party must still sign the statutory declaration before a notary public.

Can A Civil Marriage In Singapore Be Solemnised By A Religious Leader Or Officiant Not Authorised By ROM?

No, a civil marriage must be solemnised by the Registrar of Marriages or an individual authorised with a licence to solemnise marriages by the ROM. Religious leaders or officiants not authorised by the ROM cannot conduct a legally valid civil marriage in Singapore.

Is There A Specific Time Frame Within Which The Certificate Of Marriage Must Be Collected After The Solemnisation Ceremony?

There is no specific time frame for collecting the Certificate of Marriage after the solemnisation. However, it’s advisable to collect it promptly to avoid any delays or complications in the future, especially if you need it for legal purposes or immigration matters.

Do I Need To Hire A Lawyer To Assist With The Civil Marriage Registration And Solemnisation Process In Singapore?

Hiring a lawyer is not mandatory, as you can navigate the process independently. However, consulting a lawyer can be beneficial, especially if you have complex legal circumstances or questions or require legal advice related to your marriage.

What Services Can A Lawyer Provide When Assisting With Civil Marriage Registration And Solemnisation In Singapore?

A lawyer can offer guidance on legal requirements, assist with document preparation and submission, and advise on issues such as prenuptial agreements, intercultural marriages or international aspects of marriage. They can also represent your interests in case of legal disputes or issues.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.