If you're a foreigner who's dreamed of getting married in India, you may be disappointed to know that it's a lengthy and time consuming process to do it legally. You should be prepared to spend around 30 days in India. Here are the basic legal requirements for getting married in India. It also applies to foreigners who want to marry an Indian citizen in a civil ceremony.
What the Law Says
In India, the legal age for getting married is 18 years for girls and 21 years for boys.
Civil weddings are governed by the provisions of The Special Marriage Act (1954). Under the Act, there’s a 30 day residency requirement, which means that either the bride or the groom has to be living in India for at least 30 days prior to applying to the local registry office to get married. For foreigners, this is evidenced by a certificate from the local police station.
You’ll need to submit your Notice of Intended Marriage (a copy of the form can be downloaded here) to the registry office in your jurisdiction, along with evidence of residency, certified copies of passports and birth certificates, and two passport sized photographs each. It's only necessary for one of the parties, not both, to be present to submit the intention to marry.
In addition, evidence of eligibility to be married is usually required. Anyone who hasn’t been married should obtain a single status affidavit (in the US), a Certificate of No Impediment (in the UK), or Certificate of No Record (in Australia). If you’re divorced, you’ll need to produce the Decree Absolute, or if you’re widowed, a copy of the death certificate.
If no objections to the marriage are received within 30 days of the application, a civil ceremony at the registry office can then take place. Three witnesses are required, who have to provide passport sized photographs, as well as identification and proof of address. The marriage certificate is usually issued a couple of weeks after the wedding.
Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Goa
Unfortunately, the legal process for foreigners getting married in Goa, which has its own Civil Code, is even longer and more onerous. There’s a 30 day residency requirement for both the bride and groom, who will need to obtain a residence certificate from the local municipality. In order to get married, the couple (along with four witnesses) must apply before a Goan court, which will grant a provisional wedding certificate allowing the marriage to go ahead.
This certificate is taken to the Civil Registrar, who’ll affix a Public Notice inviting objections within 10 days. If none are received, you can then get married. If you’re leaving Goa before the 10 days expire, it’s possible to get the period waived by applying to the Assistant Public Prosecutor. This will enable you to get married right away.
Hiring a wedding planner can greatly help with the legal formalities of getting married in Goa, and is highly recommended.
Requirements for a Catholic Wedding in Goa
For a Catholic church wedding in Goa, the bride and groom will need to obtain a “No Objection” certificate from their Parish priest acknowledging the wedding and giving permission to get married in a church in Goa. Baptism certificates, confirmation certificates, and a letter of intent will also need to be provided. In addition, it’s necessary to attend a wedding course, either in your own country or in Goa.
What are the Alternatives?
Many foreigners who get married in India choose to have a wedding ceremony but forego the legal part, which they carry out in their own country. This is a lot easier and less stressful!