I get so many frequently asked questions and frequently confused points about the marriage paperwork, so, I thought I’d try and clear up some common misconceptions and ideas around getting legally married in Australia.

  1. There is no such thing – zero – as a marriage license in Australia. Aussie marriage law is some of the best marriage legislation on the planet: if you meet the criteria to marry, you simply can, you don’t need government permission, or a license.
  2. The criteria you need to meet is that you’re human, 18 or over, not already married, consenting to marry each other, and you can give one month’s notice to your marriage celebrant.
  3. This notice is given by an official government form called the Notice of Intended Marriage, I call it a NOIM. Most good celebrants will help you prepare the form, but in the end it’s a form that you’re essentially giving to the celebrant, and as we receive it your one month notice period begins. It doesn’t get submitted to a higher power at that time. We receive it and it’s all good.
  4. That one month notice period is exactly that, one month. I hear people say 30 days or four weeks, but it is literally one month. So if you give me notice today, the 16th of January, you can marry on the 16th of February. The only weird ones are if you give notice on March 31 for example, one month later legally speaking is April 30.
  5. There is a chance to beg of a certain range of special people to have that one month period dropped, but it’s in super special occasions like major illness and they knock most requests back because most requests are in the realm of “we just thought it’d be cool to get married this week”.
  6. That notice of intent needs to be witnessed, and the list of people who can witness it are beneath the signature box. Justice of the Peace, Marriage Celebrant, Police Officer, are the favs. Your neighbour, a pharmacist, or your boss are not. Unless your boss is a JP or maybe a solicitor?
  7. It’s ok to sign your NOIM and other marriage paperwork on an iPad or other tablet, but it still has to be in-person. You can’t sign it like you’re signing up for Facebook and just click “I agree” but not read the terms and conditions.
  8. There is one paper form that still occurs, it’s called the form 15, or “the pretty one”. You get to take this one home, but if you look at the form it’s a “Certificate of Marriage” not an “Official Certificate of Marriage”, you’ll need to order that yourself from the Births, Deaths, and Marriages in the state in which you married – not the one where you live.
  9. After your marriage ceremony we do submit your paperwork, including the NOIM, to the Births, Deaths, and Marriages. But that’s just so they can record your marriage and issue and official certificate of marriage to you – which won’t happen automatically, you need to order it.
  10. The signing of the paperwork is actually less significant in becoming married than your words. In your ceremony there are certain words you need to say, and when you say them, you are legally married. So when we go to sign your paperwork and people say “we better do the important part” you’ve actually already done it. We’re just doing the paperwork so someone else knows that all this went down.
  11. Finally, at some point your celebrant needs to sight ID – proof of birth and proof of ID. We don’t need to take copies, we just need to see it. And we do not need proof of citizenship, because where you’re from and which country you’re a citizen of matters not to an Australian celebrant.