Marriage outside Canada
If you are planning to be married in a foreign country, you should contact the nearest embassy, high commission or consulate of the country where the marriage will take place. They will tell you what documents you will need and whether they need to be authenticated. Canadian government offices abroad can also provide information about laws and regulations in the countries where they are located and a list of local service providers if you need legal guidance.
On this page
- General information
- Same-sex marriages
- Travelling abroad to meet a marriage partner
- Marriage documents
- Consular help for marriage-related problems or divorce in another country
- Marital crime or fraud
- Preventing your return to Canada
You cannot get married at a Canadian embassy or consulate in a foreign country. Canadian consular officials do not perform marriage ceremonies, and they do not have to attend your marriage.
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 your adopted country may not recognize your Canadian citizenship and may prevent Canadian consular officers from helping you. For more information, contact the nearest Canadian government office abroad or see our Travelling as a dual citizen page.
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, read our Travel Advice and Advisories, contact the destination country’s embassy, high commission or consulate in Canada or see Travel and your sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
Travelling abroad to meet a marriage partner
Be cautious when you go abroad to meet a marriage partner, especially if the relationship began online. 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 take place before you leave Canada. This country may view women’s rights, premarital sex, child custody and other issues quite differently than we do in Canada. You should travel to your 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.
The documents you will need to get married outside of Canada will depend on your circumstances and the country where you plan to get married. Before you travel, please contact the embassy, high commission, or consulate of the country where you plan to get married to determine what documents you will need.
If you are a Canadian citizen or permanent resident planning to marry abroad, local authorities may ask for documents such as a:
- valid Canadian passport
- birth certificate
- marriage search letter
- single status affidavit
- certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad
- premarital blood test certificate
- statement of parental consent
- divorce certificate (if you were previously married)
- death certificate (if you are widowed)
You may need to have the documents translated into the language of the country where the marriage will take place. You may also need to have the documents authenticated in Canada and/or stamped by a consular official of the country where you will get married. Authentication proves that the signature and the seal on the document are genuine.
Marriage search letter
A marriage search letter is issued by the office responsible for registering marriages in the province or territory where you live. This document will confirm whether or not you have registered a marriage there. Some countries may require you to provide an authenticated marriage search letter before you can get married. Follow the steps to get your document authenticated.
Single status affidavit
A single status affidavit is a document that you swear in front of a notary or other authorized official that indicates that you are single. Follow the steps to get your document authenticated.
Certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad
A certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad confirms there are no objections to a proposed marriage or civil partnership. Canada does not issue these certificates. Instead, we can issue a statement in lieu of certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad. Find out how to get a statement in lieu of certificate of non-impediment to marriage abroad from the Government of Canada.
If you are already outside Canada, you may instead be able to request this document, for a fee, from the nearest Canadian government office abroad.
- Some foreign governments may not consider this statement to be sufficient proof of your eligibility to marry.
- Some countries will not accept this document unless it is issued in Canada. If this applies to you, make sure to submit your request well in advance of your intended travel dates.
Consular help for marriage-related problems or divorce in another country
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 need help returning to Canada, are concerned about fair treatment under a country’s laws, or need help in a foreign country.
Marital crime or fraud
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 after arriving in Canada. If this happens to you, 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.
Polygamous marriages are not legal in Canada and are an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada.
In Canada, it is also a crime to force anyone, whether a child or an adult, to marry. It is also a crime to take anyone under the age of 18 out of Canada to force him or her to marry in another country. For more information, see our Forced marriage page.
Preventing your return to Canada
In some countries, a husband can lawfully impose travel restrictions on his wife and children and preventing them from returning 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, see our Travel Advice and Advisories or the destination country’s embassy, high commission or consulate in Canada, or read our booklet International Child Abductions: A guide for affected parents.
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