COVID-19 Impacts on Marriages: Virtual VD/SD and Solemnisation

bride and groom getting married virtually

When it comes to the process of registering a marriage in Singapore, the Verification of Documents and Statutory Declaration (VD/SD) and the following marriage solemnisation procedures are typically conducted in person at the Registry of Marriages (ROM) for civil marriages, or the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) for Muslim marriages.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, couples may not wish to carry out either procedure in person.

Fortunately, the government has implemented the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnization and Registration of Marriages) Act to help couples get married without requiring couples to meet in person at the ROM or ROMM.

This article will provide details on how the newly-passed law, which allows for virtual VD/SD and solemnisation of marriage, will benefit couples who intend to get married during the COVID-19 period.

Do note that as of 28 December 2020, marriage solemnisation will be allowed to take place in person with the following limits:

  • For solemnisations at ROM or ROMM: up to 10 persons
  • For solemnisations at home: up to 10 persons (including residents of the home), or 8 visitors (in addition to any residents) to the home, whichever is higher
  • For solemnizations in other venues: up to 100 persons, or up to the venue’s safe capacity, whichever is lower. If there are more than 50 persons, attendees must be split into multiple zones of up to 50 persons.

These limits include the couple, but exclude the licensed solemniser, interpreter (if applicable), and any other vendors providing services for your solemnisation.

Virtual Verification of Documents and Statutory Declaration 

As part of the process of registering a marriage, couples must carry out the VD/SD after filing their notice of marriage.

Starting from 15 May 2020, certain couples may carry out their VD/SD process online through a live video or television link such as Cisco WebEx.

This alternative arrangement will be available until further notice.

Are you eligible for virtual VD/SD?

To conduct a virtual VD/SD process:

  • Both parties to the marriage must be either a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • The bride and groom must be physically present in Singapore
  • The bride and groom must be aged 21 and above at the point of solemnisation
  • The bride and groom must present Singapore-issued documents (e.g. NRIC, divorce certificate (if applicable), or death certificate of ex-spouse (if applicable)). If you have of foreign-issued documents, they must be verified at the ROM in person
  • The bride and groom must have a valid notice of marriage filed at least 21 days before their intended date of solemnisation

If you are not eligible for the virtual VD/SD process, you may do the VD/SD process in person at ROM instead.

What is the virtual VD/SD process like?

If you have not done so, you will first have to file for a notice of marriage online on the ROM website. This will include a self-check eligibility for virtual VD/SD and solemnisation via video link.

If you are eligible for virtual VD/SD and solemnisation and intend to make use of these procedures, make sure to indicate your preference for them when filing your notice of marriage.

The ROM will confirm the VD/SD and solemnisation dates within 3 working days of filing your notice of marriage. You will then receive pre-filled VD/SD documents and a video link before the VD/SD appointment date.

During the virtual VD/SD appointment, the bride and groom will have to separately fill in the pre-filled VD/SD documents received.

At the end of the VD/SD process, the bride and groom will upload a copy of the form and other supporting documents shown during the VD/SD process to the ROM on this site using their respective SingPass accounts.

When the ROM receives all the documents, the ROM will email and mail a copy of the marriage documents to the bride, groom, 2 witnesses, and the licensed solemniser (if applicable).

Unless the bride and groom are staying together, they should remain in their respective households for the VD/SD appointment.

Please visit this guide on the ROM website for more information on the virtual process of marriage if you have not filed a notice of marriage yet.

Virtual Solemnisation of Marriages 

Starting from 15 May 2020, eligible couples may also solemnise their marriage online through a video link.

This alternative arrangement applies for solemnisations both within and outside of ROM and ROMM, and will be available until further notice.

Are you eligible for virtual solemnisation?

The eligibility requirements for a virtual solemnisation are similar to those for the virtual VD/SD, except that:

  • Only either the bride or groom needs to be a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • At least 2 witnesses must be virtually present alongside the bride and groom during the virtual solemnisation

What is the procedure for the virtual solemnisation?

To opt for a virtual solemnisation ceremony, you will need to state this preference when filing the notice of marriage. ROM will contact you to discuss the arrangement.

If your request for virtual solemnisation is approved, the couple and the 2 witnesses will receive the following after the VD/SD has been completed:

  • Unsigned copies of the Certificate of Marriage
  • Pre-paid envelopes
  • A video link for the virtual solemnisation

On the day of the virtual solemnisation, the bride, groom, the 2 witnesses and the solemniser will meet online via video link. Unless the bride, groom and 2 witnesses are staying together, everyone should remain in their respective households for the solemnisation.

You may also invite more people to attend the virtual solemnisation, but are advised to invite only those you are closer to. This is because your personal information such as your identity card details will be shown on the video during the solemnisation.

To get around this, you may set up a separate and concurrent video link with your friends and families to watch your ceremony without having your personal information shared with them.

During the virtual solemnisation, the bride, groom, and 2 witnesses will sign on their respective copies of the Certificate of Marriage that they have received from the ROM by mail.

At the end of the ceremony, the bride, groom and the 2 witnesses will have to email their copies of the signed Certificate of Marriage to ROM.

The bride, groom, and the 2 witnesses will also physically mail the signed Certificate of Marriage to the ROM with the pre-paid envelope they have received.

When the ROM has received all the copies of the Certificate of Marriage, ROM will mail the coloured Certificate of Marriage to the bride.

Please visit this guide on the ROM website for more information on the virtual solemnisation process.

Do These Virtual Arrangements Apply for Muslim Marriages as Well?

Muslim couples will also be able to virtually complete their VD/SD process and solemnise their marriage.

For Muslim marriages, the VD/SD process will involve the couple, the bride’s Wali, and/or a Naib Kadi or a Kadi.

The virtual solemnisation process will involve two male witnesses in addition to the people involved during your VD/SD process. If your marriage is being solemnised with the bride’s Wali, the Wali must also be physically present in Singapore.

Please visit our article on Muslim marriages in Singapore for more information on the in-person process of registering and solemnising a Muslim marriage.

Does Virtual Solemnisation Apply to Catholic Marriages as Well?

The Catholic Church will not be carrying out virtual solemnisations, citing the “importance of the physical interaction of the persons celebrating our sacraments”.

Couples who want the Catholic Church to solemnise their marriages will have to do so in person after the circuit breaker measures end on 1 June 2020. Social distancing measures will be observed during the solemnisation.

For example, only the essential people such as the couple, two witnesses, and the priest, will be allowed to be present at the ceremony.

As the world battles COVID-19, you may not be able to wait until the pandemic ends before getting married. In the meantime, the implemented virtual arrangements for couples to tie the knot online should help you complete your marriage while still complying with safe distancing rules.

Though your current situation may seem unpredictable and tumultuous, you can look forward to a lifelong bond with your partner once you overcome the current disruptions to your marriage plans. It is important that we learn to quickly adapt to new arrangements in order to get through this pandemic as smoothly as possible.