If you’re planning to get married, whether it be in Hong Kong or abroad, of course, you will want to check what types of marriages are recognized by Hong Kong law. A marriage that is not valid in your home country is no marriage at all! As a rule of thumb, all marriages in Hong Kong, from the 7th of October, 1971 onwards, are governed by the Marriage Ordinance which specifies the below kinds of marriages as legal and valid.
(1) Registered Marriage
The first kind or marriage that is recognized by Hong Kong law is the Registered Marriage. In accordance with the Marriage Ordinance, a Registered Marriage is defined as voluntary union for life of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others in a marriage ceremony carried out at one of the Marriage Registries or licensed places of worship in Hong Kong. If your wedding is set to take place in a marriage hall, registry, or official licensed place of worship, it falls under this category. For a complete guide to marriage registration application procedures in Hong Kong, click here.
(2) Marriages Celebrated by a Civil Celebrant
[From: An Elegant All-White Wedding at St. Margaret Church / Photos: MC Photography]
If you’re planning a wedding in Hong Kong that isn’t in one of the registries or licensed places of worship, such as a hotel or an outdoor venue, you may engage a civil celebrant in order for your union to be legal and valid. Marriages that take place at any place in Hong Kong (apart from the office of the Registrar and a licensed place of worship) must be celebrated by a civil celebrant to be recognized by Hong Kong law. For more information about marriages celebrated by a civil celebrant, click here.
(3) Foreign Marriage
[From: A Breathtaking Destination Wedding That Overlooks the Sea / Photos: Hilary Chan]
Foreign marriages that are celebrated outside Hong Kong are also recognized by Hong Kong law for as long as the marriage was executed in accordance with the law in force at the time and in the place where the marriage took place. Hence, yes, destination weddings in other countries are recognized by Hong Kong law–you can have your dream beach wedding in Phuket or Bali and not worry! Note though that if the marriage was conducted and registered overseas, the marriage itself will not be governed by Hong Kong Law.
For more information on marriage laws, guidelines and procedure, visit https://www.immd.gov.hk/.