Marriage overseas

If you are planning to be married in a foreign country, you should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the country where the marriage will occur to determine the legal requirements for your marriage. Canadian government offices abroad can also provide information about laws and regulations in the countries where they are located.

Most countries require a valid Canadian passport and a certificate issued by your province or territory stating that there are no legal impediments to your marriage. You should obtain the certificate before you leave Canada.

If you are already abroad, you may obtain a Statement in Lieu of Certification of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad, for a fee, from the nearest Canadian government office abroad. (See Authentication of Documents) Note that this statement may not be sufficient proof of a non-impediment to marriage for some foreign governments.

Some foreign governments may require other documents such as a birth certificate, premarital blood test certificate, divorce papers, death certificate, and/or a statement of parental consent. You may be required to have the documents translated into the language of the country where the marriage will occur and/or authenticated in Canada by a consular official of that country.

You cannot get married at a Canadian embassy or consulate. Canadian consular officials do not perform marriage ceremonies, and they do not have to attend a marriage ceremony in a foreign country.

Marriages that are legally performed in a foreign country are usually valid in Canada, and you do not need to register them in Canada. 

Marrying a citizen of another country may automatically make you a citizen of that country. This will not affect your Canadian citizenship, but the adopted country may not recognize your Canadian citizenship and may prevent Canada from providing you with consular assistance. For more information, contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad or refer to our booklet Dual citizenship: what you need to know.

Same-sex marriages

Although same-sex marriages are legal in Canada, they are not recognized in many countries. Same-sex civil unions are more widely recognized. For country-specific information, consult our Country advice and advisories , the destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada or Homosexual, Bisexual and Transgender Travel.

Consular assistance for marriage-related problems or divorce abroad

Officials at the nearest Canadian government office abroad can provide you with a list of local lawyers, shelters and social services (if available) that can help. We can offer services if you require assistance returning to Canada, are concerned about fair treatment under a country’s laws, or need assistance in a foreign country.

Marital crime or fraud abroad

Growing numbers of Canadian citizens are caught up in marriage-related crime or fraud overseas. Canadians have been extorted by foreign in-laws, caught up in scams involving cyber-romance, or duped into sponsoring a spouse who bolts upon arrival in Canada. In such situations, you will need to hire a lawyer with expertise in matrimonial law. Officials at the nearest Canadian government office abroad can provide a list of legal representatives in the country concerned.

Travelling abroad to meet a marriage partner

Be cautious when you go abroad to meet a marriage partner, especially if the relationship began on the Internet. A potential partner may consider marriage to a Canadian citizen as a ticket to an immigrant visa. Many Canadians have quit their jobs, given up their homes and sold all their belongings in anticipation of an overseas union that immediately fails or never occurs.

Learn about the customs and laws on relationships and marriage in the country where the marriage will occur before you leave Canada. This country may views women’s rights, premarital sex, child custody and other issues quite differently than we do in Canada. We also highly recommend that you travel to the destination country with a return ticket, enough money to stay in a hotel, and, in case of problems, information on how to contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad. You should carefully safeguard your airline tickets, money and passport.

Preventing your return to Canada

In some countries, a husband can lawfully impose travel restrictions on his wife and children, preventing their return to Canada. Local laws may also allow him to retain the woman’s passport and assets, even if the two are divorced.

For more information, consult our Country advice and advisories or the destination country’s embassy or consulate in Canada, or refer to our booklet International child abduction: a manual for parents.

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