COVID-19 — and the accompanying circuit breaker measures to stop its transmission — have thrown a wrench in many couples’ plans to get married.
Recognising that it may be some time before the pandemic ends, the Singapore government has passed the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnisation and Registration of Marriages) Act and the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act to support couples whose marriages have been affected by COVID-19.
- An automatic extension of notice of marriage
- Virtual verification of documents and statutory declaration and solemnisation
- Relief for cancellation of booking of wedding venues
- Extension of solemnisation deadline for the collection of keys for your new or resale HDB flat,
Automatic Extension of Notice of Marriage
To successfully register a marriage, you will usually have to solemnise your marriage within 3 months of filing a notice of marriage – otherwise, the notice will be void.
In light of the current COVID-19 situation however, couples will now be able to solemnise their marriage within 12 months of filing their notice of marriage if they have filed or will file their notice on or after 15 February 2020.
Virtual Verification of Documents and Statutory Declaration and Solemnisation
To support couples whose marriages have been affected by COVID-19, eligible couples will be able to opt for virtual arrangements for both verification of documents and statutory declaration (VD/SD), and marriage solemnisation.
This alternative arrangement will last at least until the COVID-19 situation improves.
Please visit our article on virtual VD/SD to find out more about whether you are eligible for the virtual arrangements and how the processes of the virtual arrangements differ from the usual in-person process.
Relief for Cancellation of Booking of Wedding Venues
In preparation for your wedding, you may have already spent money on paying a deposit for your wedding venue. Normally, if you cancel your booking you will lose your deposit. However, in light of the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, you may be able to recover some or all of your deposit.
You may be entitled to a return of the deposit of the booking of your wedding venue if:
- You have booked a wedding venue before 25 March 2020,
- Your wedding ceremony is to be held on or after 1 February 2020, and
- You have cancelled or postponed, or intend to cancel or postpone, your booking.
The relief will last from 20 April 2020 until 19 October 2020 unless it is shortened or extended in the future.
To be granted relief under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act, you must send a notification to your venue provider explaining why it is not possible for you to hold a wedding at the venue on your booking date.
If you cancelled or postponed your wedding because of COVID-19 restrictions, the venue provider cannot forfeit your deposit unless the provider refers the issue to an assessor, who will make a final decision on whether the deposit or any part of it should be forfeited.
For example, in the case where you decide to cancel your booking entirely instead of postponing it, the venue provider may be able to keep a percentage of your deposit. Note that the assessor’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Extension of Solemnisation Deadline for the Collection of Keys for Your New or Resale HDB Flat
To collect the keys for a new or resale flat, your marriage needs to be solemnised within 3 months of receiving the keys to a new flat or the resale completion date of a resale flat.
If you and your fiancé or fiancée have applied for a HDB flat together, you might have faced some roadblocks when trying to solemnise your marriage in time due to COVID-19 circuit breaker measures. If this is the case, you should write an email to your appointed sales officer explaining why it was not possible for you to have solemnised your wedding in time.
If your sales officer deems your excuse a valid reason, they may extend the deadline for your marriage solemnisation or make other arrangements to accommodate your situation.
Do note that your situation will be reviewed on a case by case basis and you might not be guaranteed an extension.
However, in light of the current virtual solemnisation option in place and the recommencement of in-person solemnisation from 1 June 2020 onwards, you should now be able to solemnise your marriage in time if the 3-month deadline to solemnise your marriage has not yet passed.
Unfortunately, it seems that COVID-19 will continue to plague the world for at least another few months. This would mean that couples who intend to marry will have to continue to comply with social distancing measures as they tie the knot.
To support such couples, the government has implemented a set of measures to facilitate marriage between couples such as extending the notice of marriage and allowing virtual VD/SD and solemnisation.
Couples who wish to cancel or postpone the booking of their wedding venue may recover their booking deposits. The HDB may also allow an extended solemnisation deadline for couples who had trouble solemnising their marriage within the deadline stipulated by the HDB.
As everyone around the world learns to adapt to the “new normal” that COVID-19 has forced us to adjust to, the above challenges will only be the first hurdles that newlyweds have to face before spending the rest of their lives together.
Though this period might be unpredictable, the implemented measures will hopefully help you and your future spouse to overcome this difficult period.