Planning a destination wedding? Before you start your wedding planning timeline, make sure you read this first! You’ll want to make sure your overseas marriage will be recognized by Hong Kong Law. Here’s what you need to know and do to make sure your overseas wedding will be legally valid in Hong Kong.
Step 1: Check if you can legally get married abroad.
According to the Hong Kong Law, a marriage this is celebrated and solemnized outside of Hong Kong in accordance with the laws in force at that time and in that place, is recognized as a valid marriage, similar to a marriage conducted and registered in Hong Kong. (Note though that for marriages conducted and registered overseas, the marriage itself will not be governed by Hong Kong Law.) So, the first step is to check whether you and your husband-to-be can get married legally in your chosen place of destination.
If you can get married legally abroad, proceed to step 3. On the other hand, if you can’t get married legally in your overseas location, check step 2.
Step 2: Solemnize your marriage in Hong Kong, then have a symbolic wedding in your overseas destination.
Unfortunately, there will be cases wherein couples can’t fulfill the legal requirements for getting married overseas. During these cases, the next best option is to solemnize your marriage first in Hong Kong, by following the local legal process, and then have a symbolic wedding afterwards in your overseas location. This way, you can still have your dream destination wedding AND have a legally accepted marriage in Hong Kong.
Step 3: Prepare documents for the destination wedding.
If you find you will be able to get married legally in your chosen destination location, don’t forget to prepare the necessary valid documents for it.
You will need to apply for a Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record, which is a document certifying that a person has not registered any marriage in Hong Kong. First, you will need to apply for a Search of Marriage Records in Hong Kong. After the search is completed, you can apply for a Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record. (Or if you were married, you will have a letter of marriage record.)
Please reserve enough time for the application which will take up to 10-15 days, and also time for postal delivery to your overseas location. After all these, you are set for the destination wedding ceremony!
The below fees apply for post-registration of marriage:
Search of Marriage Records in Hong Kong: HK$140
Certificate of Absence of Marriage Record: HK$680
Generally, most overseas marriage (except same-sex marriage) are recognized as valid marriage. Most popular destination wedding countries, including Thailand, Japan, United States, United Kingdom and so on, are places with legal marriage processes that are recognized by Hong Kong Law. Feel free to compare whether getting married aboard, or ceremony aboard with local registry would be better for you, and your family also.
For more details and official guidelines, kindly refer to the: Hong Kong Immigration Department: Marriage Registration