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Ontario Marriage FAQs
Is a Marriage Certificate the same thing as a Marriage Licence?

A Marriage Certificate is a different type of document from a Marriage Licence.  Marriage Licences are issued to couples before they marry, whereas Marriage Certificates are issued as records of marriages that have already occurred. 

How long does it take for a birth to be legally registered in Ontario?

Registration takes approximately 10 weeks from the date of marriage.  You can apply for an Ontario Marriage Certificate once you receive notice that the marriage has been registered with the Vital Statistics agency. 

What is the minimum age to get married in Ontario?

You must be at least 18 years old to be married in Ontario by licence or under the authority of the publication of banns (an announcement of the details of your intent to marry in your church, mosque or synagogue) without parental consent.  If you are 16 or 17 years old, you may marry if you have the written consent of both parents.  Other restrictions may apply. 

Who is allowed to perform marriages in Ontario?

If you are getting married in Ontario, you may have a religious marriage or a civil marriage.

A religious marriage is performed by an official of a recognized religion who has received authorization from the Office of the Registrar General to perform marriages in Ontario.  The marriage can be solemnized under the authority of a marriage licence or the publication of banns, depending on the religious body.

List of Religious Officials

Note: Banns shall not be published where either party to the intended marriage had a previous marriage which has been dissolved or annulled. 

A civil marriage may be performed by an Ontario judge, justice of the peace or a municipal clerk under the authority of a marriage licence. Each municipality will set its own fees and can even offer civil marriage services. Contact your municipal office for more information.

List of Ontario Municipalities

Do I need to get a Marriage Licence in Ontario?

In most cases, if you are being married in a religious or civil ceremony, you must obtain a Marriage licence through your local municipality.  However, if you are being married in a religious ceremony, you may be eligible to be married by a publication of banns (making an announcement of the details of your intent to marry in your church, mosque or synagogue).  Speak to your religious official for more information. 

How do I apply for an Ontario Marriage Licence?

In most cases, if you are being married in a religious or civil ceremony, you need a Marriage Licence.  However, if you are being married in a religious ceremony, you may be eligible to be married by a publication of banns (making an announcement of the details of your intent to marry in your church, mosque or synagogue).  Speak to your religious official for more information.

You can apply for a Marriage Licence at the municipal offices in your city, town, village or township if there is a licence issuer or you can download the Marriage Licence Application Form and bring it with you to your nearest municipal office.

Fill out the application and then apply for the Marriage Licence in person.  Make sure you and your partner bring identification, such as a birth certificate (along with any change of name certificates), current Passport, Record of Immigrant Landing or Canadian Citizenship Card and photo ID to prove your current legal name and age.

There is a Marriage Licence fee.  Cost is subject to change by each Municipality, but is currently $100 to $125.  Contact your local municipal office for the current fee.  The Marriage Licence is valid anywhere in Ontario for three months from the date of purchase.  If the licence expires, you will have to purchase another one. 

What if I want to get married outside Ontario?

When you get married outside of Ontario, your marriage won’t be registered in the Province.  You may need to purchase a licence from the place where you get married.

Check with the Vital Statistics Office in the Province or Territory in Canada where you want to get married.  If you’re getting married in another country, check with the Canadian representative there.  You may need to prove that you are not currently married and you may be required to apply for a marriage search letter.  In many places, this letter is commonly referred to as a Letter of Non-Impediment.  This letter only confirms whether or not a marriage is registered for you in Ontario.

You can apply to do a marriage search online.  If you need a search letter, fill out the Marriage Certificate Application Form and check off the box that says “Search”.  Be sure to write on the form the years you would like searched.  If you don’t know what years to search, check with the country that is requesting the information. 

What if I want to remarry after a divorce?

If you were divorced in Canada, you must bring the original or court-certified copy of the final decree, final judgment or certificate of divorce to your local municipal office when you are purchasing the marriage licence.

If you were divorced outside of Canada, you must obtain authorization from the Ministry of Government Services before you can purchase a marriage licence.

For authorization, collect the following documents:

  • A completed Marriage Licence Application.
  • A Statement of Sole Responsibility for each divorce signed by both parties of this marriage.
  • An original or court-certified copy of the divorce decree or annulment. If the decree is in a language other than English or French, include a translated copy together with an affidavit sworn by a certified translator.
  • A legal opinion from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both applicants to the marriage, giving reasons why the divorce or annulment should be recognized in the Province of Ontario. The Office of the Registrar General will fax a sample legal opinion letter to your lawyer if you call (807)-343-7492 or toll-free at 1-800-461-2156.

And send them to: 

The Office of the Registrar General
Marriage Office
P.O. Box 4600
189 Red River Rd.
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6L8 

How do I order a first time Ontario Marriage Certificate?

Immediately after the marriage ceremony, the couple may receive a Record of Solemnization of Marriage from the person who performed the ceremony.  This document includes the couple’s names, the date of the marriage, the names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a licence or the publication of banns.  This is not a Marriage Certificate or a legal record.  You still need a Marriage Certificate.

The person who performed the marriage must forward a completed and signed Marriage Licence to the provincial Vital Statistics office for registration.  The marriage must be registered before you may apply for a Marriage Certificate.

Apply for a Marriage Certificate online:

1.   Click "Select Certificate Type" or "Get It Now" button on home page.  Follow the prompts to select the proper certificate and Province/Territory the marriage occurred in.

2.   Click the "Apply Online" button.

3.   Complete the information on the Online Application which will guide you through several Steps and pay using your credit card.

4.   You will receive an order confirmation email from us within an hour.  We will then go on to process your application according to the service option you have chosen.  If there are any problems with your application, a representative will contact you via email with the required corrections.

5.   Your Marriage Certificate will either arrive in the mail, or by courier, depending on the service option chosen.

Please note:  Marriage Certificates are issued using the information from the original Registration of Marriage, completed at the time of Marriage.  If a record cannot be found, a search for a three year period is carried out automatically and the applicant will be notified. 

How do I order a replacement Ontario Marriage Certificate?

You may order a replacement Marriage Certificate in the same way as a first time Marriage Certificate (see above).  The application form is the same for both types of orders. 

How will my Ontario Marriage Certificate be sent to me?

Your Marriage Certificate will be sent to you directly from the Office of the Registrar General.  It will arrive in the mail with the Regular Service option, or by courier with the Rush Service option. 

Can I make an amendment to an Ontario Marriage Certificate?

Yes.  Occasionally marriage records need to be amended, such as when an error has been made to the original Registration of Marriage.  Applicants may apply to correct an error to an original registration by completing a Form 23 and providing satisfactory evidence that proves the original registration was incorrect.

The application for a correction to a Marriage Registration (Form 23) is not available online.  You must contact Service Ontario directly at 1-800-461-2156 for all of North America (areas outside of Toronto) or 1-416-325-8305 in the Greater Toronto Area and Internationally, to request the form.

Form 23 must be signed in the presence of a commissioner for taking affidavits for oaths.

Depending on what information is being corrected, original copies of evidence required to make the correction may include one or more of the following:

  • Hospital record of Birth (letter from the hospital)
  • Copy of baptismal register certified by a church official or Cradle Roll certificate issued within four years of birth
  • School record of registration for early elementary years (Grades 1 – 4)
  • Canadian Record of Immigrant Landing
  • Canadian Citizenship
  • Copy of the church marriage register, certified by a church official
  • Birth Certificate of subject
  • Census record
  • Change of Name certificate (copy)
  • Copies of ID used at the time of the event

All forms, packages and evidence must be submitted with the application.  All original certificates provided as evidence will be returned to the applicant.  Copies will not be returned

Amendments to the original Marriage Registration cost $22.00.  The fee for the correction does not include a new Marriage Certificate once the correction has been made. 

What information is contained on an Ontario Marriage Certificate?

The Marriage Certificate (File Size 7”x 8.25”) contains basic information such as names, date and place of marriage. 

What is a Certified Copy of Statement of Marriage?

A Certified Copy of Statement of Marriage is a photocopy of the registration completed at the time of marriage, by the marriage officiant and the bride and groom.  There is always an official raised seal and red stamp on the back stating it is a certified true copy of the original registration.

Photocopies are rarely needed by citizens and are, by law, for restricted use only.  They are generally only required for genealogical, court or consulate purposes.  They are not for use as identification. 

What if I am uncertain of the date of marriage?

Marriage Certificates are issued using the information from the original Registration of Marriage, completed at the time of marriage.  If you are not certain of the date of marriage, you may order a search letter.  A search letter only states that according to the Office of the Registrar General, an event either is or is not recorded.  No actual information is provided or confirmed.  Fill out the estimated date of birth on the Marriage Certificate application.  That entire year will be searched, plus two years before and after, for a total of five years.  You may also request a search of additional years, in increments of five years. 

Is an Ontario Marriage Certificate required to apply for a divorce?

Yes.  You must have an original government issued Marriage Certificate or Certified Copy of Marriage Registration to apply for a divorce in Canada.  The certificate you received at the church (or any other place you were married) will not be accepted by the Divorce Registry. 

How much does an Ontario Marriage Certificate cost and how can I pay?

Regular Service (15-20 business days)
Marriage Certificate:                                    $67.00
Certified Copy of Statement of Marriage:         $76.00
Search (each 5 years searched):                   $60.00 

Rush Service (5-10 business days)
Marriage Certificate:                                    $100.00
Certified Copy of Statement of Marriage:         $110.00
Search (each 5 years searched):                   $80.00

Rush service is NOT available under the following circumstances:

  • International Orders:  Rush Service is not available for delivery outside Canada.
  • Recent Marriages:  A Marriage Certificate will be issued upon completion of the Marriage Registration.  The registration takes approximately 10 weeks from the date of marriage.  Rush service is not available for marriages that took place within the last 10 weeks.  Please contact the Office of the Registrar General at 1-800-461-2156 (Ontario Only) or 416-325-8305 if you do require a certificate for a recent marriage on a rush basis.
  • Marriages Prior to 1991:  Marriage Certificate applications where the marriage took place prior to 1991 normally take longer to process and therefore, rush service is not available.
  • Marriages Prior to 1965:  Marriages prior to 1965 may not be in electronic format.  When applying for a Marriage Certificate for a marriage prior to 1965, it can take up to an extra 6-8 weeks for the registration to be converted into electronic format before processing can be completed and therefore, rush service is not available.

The only payment currently accepted is credit card (Visa and MasterCard). 

How long will it take to receive my Ontario Marriage Certificate?

It will take 15-20 business days with the Regular Service options or 5-10 business days with the Rush Service option. 

What is the law in Ontario regarding same-sex marriage?

Bill C-38 codifies a definition of marriage for the first time in Canadian law, expanding on the traditional common-law understanding of civil marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.  Bill C-38 redefines civil marriage as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others,” thus extending civil marriage to conjugal couples of the same sex.

Bill C-38 was passed by the Senate on July 19, 2005, by a vote of 47-21.  The Civil Marriage Act then came into effect with Royal Assent on July 20, 2005, as Chapter 33 of the Statutes of Canada.  With its enactment, Canada became the fourth country to legislate same-sex marriage, the others being the Netherlands (2001), Belgium (2003) and Spain (2005).

Federal vs. Provincial Jurisdiction

There is some confusion about the roles of different levels of government involved in the marriage issue.

The federal government can pass legislation to define marriage and to set out who can marry whom, which means that a Province must recognize any marriage that is valid in Canada.

Although Provinces do not have the freedom to choose which marriages may be solemnized, they are required to provide a process by which people can be married.  This means that provincial governments must provide a process for the solemnization of same-sex marriages. 

How do I find the status of my Ontario Marriage Certificate application?

If you are following up on the status of an already ordered certificate, as the applicant, you will need to contact the government agency directly.  They will only discuss the status of the application with the applicant.  Please contact the Office of The Registrar General:

Toll Free: 1-800-461-2156 (Ontario only)
Telephone: 416-325-8305

You can also check the status of your application online.

Who is entitled to apply for an Ontario Marriage Certificate?

You can apply for an Ontario Marriage Certificate if you are:

  • The bride or the groom;
  • A parent of either the bride or the groom;
  • A child of the marriage (natural or adoptive);
  • Children or parents of the deceased bride or groom may obtain a Certified Copy of the Marriage Registration. 

When I get married, do I have to take my husband’s last name?

No.  Changing a last name upon marriage is a custom only and it has never been a legal requirement.  When you get married, there are several options available to you.  You may keep your own last name, you may take your husband's name, or combine both of your last names into a hyphenated last name.

It is also possible to use your husband's last name for social purposes while continuing to use your own last name for legal purposes, such as your passport, bank accounts, driver's licence and so on.  The important thing is that you must not use both names in an attempt to defraud someone.

The benefit of assuming a married name instead of doing a legal name change is that it does not change your last name on your Marriage Certificate.  Later, if you wish to use your own last name again, it is already on your Marriage Certificate and you won’t have to pay to change it back.

If you do decide to use your husband's last name, it is not necessary to inform the Department of Vital Statistics.  However, you will have to arrange to have all your personal documents changed to reflect your new name.  You should contact your bank to arrange to change your name on your accounts, credit cards and banking cards, and the federal government to deal with documents such as your social insurance number and passport.  Your driver's licence should also be changed.  Do not forget such important documents as insurance policies and your health care number.  Note also that marriage automatically invalidates a will, unless the will specifically mentions that it has been made with an upcoming marriage in mind.  You should make a new will immediately after marriage. 

My fiancé and I want to get married in a foreign country. Can we do this?

Yes.  You may marry in a foreign country as long as you meet all the requirements of the authority responsible for marriage in the country where you want to get married.  If you are getting married overseas, most countries will require a statement in-lieu of certification of non-impediment to marriage abroad.  You can apply for one by mail to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Authentication and Service of Documents section before your departure. If you are already abroad, you may obtain a "Statement in lieu of Certificate of Non-impediment" from the nearest Canadian government office abroad.

Additional information regarding marriage in a foreign country is available on the Canadian Consular Affairs website.

Please note, only marriages that took place in Ontario are registered by the Ontario Office of the Registrar General.  Your marriage will be registered in the country where it took place as long as you met all the local requirements.  Your Marriage Certificate, issued by the country's authority responsible for marriage, is proof of your marital status. 

I married someone who is a foreign citizen. Can my spouse automatically enter Ontario?

No.  There are certain procedures that must be followed before a non-Canadian citizen can reside in Canada.  For more information, see the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website

Who is allowed to perform marriages in Ontario?

Marriages in Canada can be either civil or religious.  Marriages may be performed by members of the clergy, marriage commissioners, judges, justices of the peace or clerks of the court.