WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED TO GET MARRIED AND DIVORCED?
Marriage is a celebration of love and commitment to another person. It is also a legal process that has
significant personal and financial implications.
Before you can get married, remarried, or divorced, you will need to obtain certain legal documents. In
today’s blog post, our British Columbia family lawyer will explain the paperwork involved with a legal
marriage and how to get access to marriage records and divorce records.
Paperwork to get legally married in BC
First, you need to obtain a marriage licence in order to get married in British Columbia. A marriage
licence proves that you and your spouse-to-be meet all the legal requirements to be married: neither of you is already married to someone else; each of you is 19 years of age or older; if you are under 19 years of age, you have parental consent, etc.).
At the time of writing this blog post, a marriage licence in BC costs $100. A BC marriage licence is only
valid for three months so you need to time your wedding ceremony accordingly. If you do not get
married within three months of the marriage licence being issued, the licence expires and you will need to obtain a new one.
The next legal step is marriage registration. After the wedding ceremony is performed, you, your
spouse, two witnesses, and the officiant who performed the ceremony must sign the Marriage Licence
and Registration of Marriage. The wedding officiant must then submit the registration to the BC Vital
Statistics Agency within 48 hours of the wedding.
A Certificate of Marriage will then be mailed to you if the officiant has ordered one at the time they submit the particulars to Vital Statistics. If not, you can order one yourself upon payment of the applicable fee. Currently the fee is $27.00.
Can you look up marriage licences in Canada?
Each province and territory in Canada has a government office that registers all marriages that take
place in that jurisdiction. In British Columbia, that is the Vital Statistics Agency. Once the marriage
commissioner or religious official who conducted your wedding ceremony has submitted the Marriage
Licence and Registration of Marriage to Vital Statistics, it becomes a permanent legal record of your
It is possible to request certified copies of a Marriage Licence and Registration of Marriage. But, to be
entitled to do so, you must either be a party to the marriage or a person with written authorization from a person who is party to the marriage.
Most spouses never need a certified copy of their Marriage Licence and Registration of Marriage as a
marriage certificate is the legal document that is typically used as proof of the marriage. You will need a Marriage Certificate if you file a legal change of name or later file for divorce.
How do I find out when I got married?
Once the Marriage Licence and Registration of Marriage has been registered with BC Vital Statistics, a
Marriage Certificate will be issued to the new spouses. A marriage certificate provides legal proof of a
marriage, including the date and place of the marriage.
If you have lost your marriage certificate or need additional certificates, you can order them from BC
Vital Statistics. You must be one of the people named on the marriage certificate or a person with
written authorization from a person named on the marriage certificate to obtain a copy.
BC Vital Statistics does not register marriages that take place outside of the province or in another
country even if you are a BC resident when the marriage took place. If you want proof of a marriage that took place in another province or a foreign country, you must request information directly from that province or country. In Canada, you will typically be contacting a department of Vital Statistics.
How do I get married abroad?
If you are planning to get married in a foreign country, you should contact the embassy or consulate in
that country to determine the legal requirements to marry in that jurisdiction. To get married abroad,
you may need proof that you are free to marry. If so, Vital Statistics can search British Columbia’s
marriage records and provide you with a document that states whether you have married in this
To request a marriage search certificate, you must be 15 years of age or older and you must be applying for yourself. If you are marrying in a foreign country and you are already divorced, you will likely require a Certificate of Divorce. You can obtain the Certificate of Divorce from the court registry where your Divorce Order was made.
What documents do I need to get a divorce?
You must have an original marriage certificate or a certified true copy of your registration of marriage
from Vital Statistics to get a divorce. BC courts will not accept a marriage certificate that you obtained at the church, venue, or other place you were married. You will need the government issued marriage
The courts must ensure you were legally married before accepting your divorce papers and
the best evidence that you were married is the document registered with the government in the
province, state or country where the marriage took place. If you got married in another province,
territory or country, you will have to contact the government office in that place that deals with vital
How do you find out if you are divorced?
The Vital Statistics Agency registers all marriages in British Columbia, but it does not record divorce
information. To obtain a divorce certificate that confirms you are divorced and shows when you were
divorced, you must contact the BC Supreme Court registry where you filed your divorce proceedings and pay a $40 fee. If you are not sure which court registry processed your divorce, you can contact the
Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings (“CRDP”) in Ottawa.
The CRDP can not provide you with an official divorce certificate that confirms you are divorced, but they can tell you which court registry issued your divorce. You can then attend upon that registry to obtain a copy of the Divorce Order. It is important to note that you need a divorce certificate to get remarried. Remember that you are not eligible for remarriage until 31 days have passed since your Divorce Order was issued by the court. If you have an upcoming wedding date and you are concerned about the timing of your marriage, you may want to reach out for help from a British Columbia family law attorney.
British Columbia family lawyer Valerie M. Little Law Corporation
If you need advice from a family lawyer in British Columbia with respect to the marriage or divorce
process, contact Valerie M. Little Family Law Corporation. Ms. Little's practice is exclusively devoted to
issues of family law in throughout Metro Vancouver. No matter what family law questions or issues you might be facing, Valerie will be able to get you the help and answers you need.
If you are looking for attentive care and attention to your case, contact the law office of Valerie M. Little. For more information about her family law office or to schedule your private and confidential family law consultation with our experienced lawyer, please call us today.
Ms. Little assists clients throughout Metro Vancouver, including New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Langley, Surrey, Aldergrove, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, White Rock, Richmond, Delta, Ladner, Squamish, and Whistler.