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How do we get married outside of Ontario?

If you are getting married within Canada, each province and territory has its own rules about who can get married and what you have to do to get married. These rules are similar to the rules in Ontario, but not exactly the same.

If you are getting married outside of Canada, you have to meet the rules of the country where you plan to marry. Those rules might be very different from the rules in Ontario. For example, you or your partner might have to be a citizen of that country, or have lived there for a certain amount of time.

Ontario usually recognizes a marriage that took place outside of Ontario as long as you followed the rules of the place where you got married. “Recognized” means that you have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a person married in Ontario. And you do not have to register your marriage in Ontario.

If your marriage ends, you can apply for a divorce in Ontario even if you weren’t married in Ontario.

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1. Check if you and your partner can get married

Each place has its own rules on who can get married.

In Canada

You can marry a partner who is the same sex or the opposite sex. You don’t need to live in that province or territory to get married there. You also don’t need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

You can’t get married to more than one person at a time. Only two people can be married to each other. The law in Canada doesn’t allow more than two people to marry.

You must be at least 16 years of age to get married in Canada. But each province or territory has different rules about getting married if you are over 16 but under the age of majority in that province or territory. Check the rules of the province or territory where you plan to get married.

Outside Canada

Check the country’s embassy or consulate to see if you can get married there. For example, some countries don’t allow same-sex partners to marry.

You might also need to be a citizen or have some other connection to that country to get married there.

Ontario usually recognizes marriages that take place outside of Ontario as long as you followed the rules of the place where you got married. “Recognized” means that you have the same legal rights and responsibilities as a person married in Ontario. And you do not have to register your marriage in Ontario. 

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2. Apply to get married and get married

Each province, territory, and country has its own rules on how to apply to get married and how to actually get married.

In Canada

Check with the government of the province or territory where you plan to get married to see what you need. When you apply to get married, you are usually asked for:

  • the date that you plan to marry
  • proof that you aren’t already married
  • identification

You also have to pay a fee.

To actually get married, you need to find someone who can legally marry you and your partner by performing a marriage ceremony.

Outside Canada

Check the country’s embassy or consulate to see what you need to get married in that country.

You usually need to have a valid Canadian passport.

You might also need to prove that you are not already married. Each country has its own rules about what documents prove that you are not already married. Many countries accept a “Letter of Non-impediment” or “Marriage Search Letter”. This shows that you do not have a marriage registered in Ontario.

You can apply for a Marriage Search Letter online before you leave Ontario. It usually takes about 6 to 8 weeks to get, so it is best to apply for this several months before you plan on getting married. You might have to do other things, like:

  • provide a copy of other documents, like a birth certificate
  • take a blood test
  • pay a fee

Getting married in another country or marrying someone from another country does not make you a citizen of that other country.

To actually get married, you need to find someone who can legally marry you and your partner by performing a marriage ceremony.

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3. Get proof that you married

After you get married, it is important that you get a document to prove that you followed all the requirements to be married. This might be called a “marriage certificate” or might be called something else.

If you get married outside of Canada, it is usually easier to ask for proof while you are still in that country. It might be harder to contact government officials to get proof that you got married once you move out of that country.

You might need proof of your marriage to do things like:

  • apply for certain social benefits
  • settle an estate after someone dies
  • change your last name
  • get divorced

You don’t need to register your marriage in Ontario. 

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Reviewed: 
July, 2016

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