Civil Marriage in Singapore: How to Register and Solemnise
This article will cover the steps for successfully registering and solemnising a civil marriage in Singapore. Registering your marriage refers to the filing and verifying of legal documents pertaining to your marriage, in preparation for solemnisation.
On the other hand, solemnisation is the act of your official wedding ceremony to effect a marriage. During which, a chosen solemniser (who will officiate at your wedding) will verify all legal documents, while ensuring both parties consent to the marriage, and facilitate the signing of the Certificate of Marriage.
Solemnisation is different from any religious ceremonies or engagement celebrations held, as such ceremonies/engagement celebrations will not be entered as marriage. They may nevertheless be conducted in conjunction with or after the solemnisation of the marriage, but strictly not before.
Do take note that this article only caters to registration of civil marriages by non-Muslim couples at the Registry of Marriages (ROM). Muslims are required to register their marriage at the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) instead.
What is the Eligibility Criteria to Register a Civil Marriage in Singapore?
You are eligible to register a civil marriage only if you and your spouse-to-be are:
- At least 21 years old. Minors below 21 are required to obtain consent from their parents or guardians and complete a mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme before they can marry. Additionally, minors below 18 must be granted a Special Marriage Licence by the Minister for Social and Family Development;
- A heterosexual couple, as same-sex marriages are not allowed; and
- Either a Singapore Citizen or a Permanent Resident (PR), or marrying someone who is either. Where either of you are not a Singapore Citizen or PR, at least one of you must be physically present in Singapore for at least 15 days prior to the filing of the Notice of Marriage.
Marriages involving foreigners
Prior approval from the authorities may be required for the marriage if one party to the marriage is a foreigner:
|Type of pass held||Is approval from the authorities required?|
|Work permit||Yes. Obtain approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).|
|S Pass||No. However, the S Pass holder’s employer must inform MOM of the marriage on a company letterhead paper by mail, attaching a copy of the marriage certificate.|
|Employment Pass or EntrePass||No.|
|Tourist visa||Contact the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority for more information.|
What are the Requirements for a Valid Civil Marriage?
For a civil marriage to be recognised as valid in Singapore, the marriage must be solemnised:
- By the Registrar of Marriages or a person who has been granted a licence to solemnise marriages;
- On the authority of either a valid marriage licence issued by the Registrar or a valid Special Marriage Licence granted by the Minister;
- In the presence of at least 2 credible witnesses, who may be your friends or family above the age of 21; and
- Only when the individual solemnising is convinced that both parties freely consent to the marriage.
Prior to the Registration and Solemnisation of the Civil Marriage
Choose when and where to have your solemnisation
You have the freedom to choose whether you would like to solemnise your marriage at or outside the ROM.
If you opt to solemnise your marriage at the ROM, you can choose a slot for solemnisation based on the availability of the booking schedule, on a first-come-first-serve basis.
If you choose to marry outside the ROM instead, you are free to choose your own date, time and venue for your solemnisation. However, you must make proper arrangements with your solemniser by following these steps:
- Confirm the date, time and venue for the solemnisation.
- Refer to the “List of Licensed Solemnisers” and choose an appropriate solemniser.
- Inform your chosen solemniser of your wedding plans, date, time and venue 3 to 4 months prior to the chosen date. (This is because you can file your Notice of Marriage up to 3 months in advance.)
- Download and print the “Solemniser Consent Form”.
- Meet your solemniser for them to sign the consent form while getting the contact of his/her buddy solemniser (who acts as a backup solemniser for contingency purposes).
Procedure to Register Your Civil Marriage
Note: in view of COVID-19, virtual processes are now available for the VD/SD and solemnisation steps described below. For more information, read our article on virtual VD/SD and marriage solemnisation.
Step 1: File a Notice of Marriage
After sorting out the solemnisation details, the first step to registering your marriage is to file a Notice of Marriage.
You must file your Notice of Marriage between 21 days to 3 months prior to the date of solemnisation, no earlier or later. The Notice of Marriage is filed online and you will need to prepare the following documents beforehand:
- Identification documents of the bride, groom and 2 witnesses (i.e. the NRICs for Singapore Citizens or PRs, or passports for foreigners).
- Completed Solemniser Consent Form for those solemnising their marriage outside the ROM.
- Credit card for online payment of fees of S$42 for marriages involving at least one Singapore Citizen or PR, or S$380 if both parties are foreigners. Payment can also be made via NETS or CashCard at internet kiosks in the ROM.
- (If either you or your spouse-to-be were previously married) Death certificate of late spouse or a divorce certificate, as applicable.
After successfully filing your Notice of Marriage, you will receive a Summary of Notice of Marriage which lists the documents needed during the ROM appointment to verify your documents and make the statutory declaration for marriage (see step 3).
Do remember to print a copy of this summary and take note of the date and time to appear before the ROM for your appointment.
Also, do take note that you are not allowed to cancel your Notice of Marriage. If you are not married within the 3 months after the date of the notice, the notice will be void. A new notice must be filed with ROM if you want to marry after that timeframe.
Step 2: (For minors) Attend the mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme and/or apply for a Special Marriage Licence
For minors between the ages of 18 and 21 seeking to register a civil marriage, the couple is required to attend an interview with a Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) worker, followed by a mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme which the couple will be briefed on during the interview.
In addition, if one party is below the age of 18, the couple must apply for a Special Marriage Licence, obtain the written consent of their parents or guardians for the marriage, and attend the Marriage Preparation Programme as well. Parents or guardians may be required to attend parts of the Marriage Preparation Programme.
Step 3: Verification of Documents and Making of Statutory Declaration (VD/SD)
The next step is going to the ROM for your VD/SD appointment. During this appointment, you will have your marriage application documents (as mentioned in step 1) verified, and make a statutory declaration of your eligibility to marry.
Both the bride and groom must be present for the appointment.
The date and time for the VD/SD appointment at the ROM is stated in the Summary of Notice of Marriage. Remember to check the Summary of Notice of Marriage for the documents you are required to bring along for the appointment.
For minors, the date and time for VD/SD appointment will only be given once they have updated their completion of the mandatory Marriage Preparation Programme with the ROM. Their parents or guardians must also be present to give their consent to the marriage.
The entire VD/SD process may take 15 to 20 minutes (excluding queue time). After the appointment, you will need to collect the following documents from the ROM if your solemnisation will take place outside of it:
- Confirmation of Marriage Licence issued
- Certificate of Marriage (white and coloured copies)
- Marriage folder and checklist
- ROM self-addressed pre-stamped envelope
The ROM will advise you on when these documents are ready for collection.
But regardless of whether you have collected your documents from them, you must contact your solemniser at least 3 working days prior to the solemnisation to re-confirm his appointment. Otherwise, the appointment may be deemed cancelled.
Procedure to Solemnise Your Marriage
Once all prior steps are completed, a final few procedures remain on the day of your marriage. The most important people during the solemnisation ceremony will be the bride and groom, your 2 credible witnesses, and your chosen solemniser.
If the solemnisation is taking place in the ROM, up to 20 people are allowed in the ROM. If you are holding your solemnisation outside the ROM you may invite as many guests as you desire.
Do remember to bring the identification documents of the bride, groom and witnesses for the solemnisation. If the solemnisation is at a venue outside of the ROM, you must also bring the additional documents that you collected from the ROM earlier (see step 3 of the procedure to register your civil marriage above).
Without the necessary documents, the solemnisation cannot be carried out, so remember to bring them. Wedding rings are optional.
The solemnisation ceremony itself takes approximately 10 – 20 minutes (if conducted outside the ROM) or 5 minutes (if conducted within the ROM).
Step 1: Verification of documents and confirmation of parties’ consent to the marriage
During the ceremony, the solemniser will first verify all documents presented and confirm that the bride and groom are entering into the marriage of their own free will. The couple may also choose to exchange wedding rings.
Step 2: Signing and receiving of Certificate of Marriage
Afterwards, the bride, groom, 2 witnesses and solemniser will sign on the Certificates of Marriage.
At the end of the ceremony, the solemniser will pronounce the couple man and wife and give the coloured copy of the Certificate of Marriage to the bride, successfully completing the solemnisation ceremony.
The solemniser will also mail the signed white copy of the Certificate of Marriage to the ROM on the same day.
In order to successfully register a valid civil marriage, it is crucial to pay attention to the various steps and details required in the process. You may wish to visit the ROM website to read more about the procedures and laws regarding civil marriages in Singapore.
For guidance in your pursuit for a happy and peaceful married life, you may also take a look at our marriage counselling article if you should so require it after your marriage.