With the advancement of technology, couples in Canada now have the opportunity to get married through online marriages. This modern approach simplifies the process, providing a convenient and accessible alternative to traditional ceremonies. The process of getting married online usually consists of a few essential steps that guarantee the legitimacy and legality of the virtual marriage.

As we explore the step-by-step guide for getting married online in Canada, it is crucial to comprehend the legal intricacies, the role of approved wedding venues, and the importance of authorized registrars in this digital matrimonial landscape.

The Legality of Online Marriages in Canada

Before the global pandemic, specific jurisdictions enforced strict regulations requiring the physical presence of both the officiant and the couple for a marriage to be considered legally valid. Furthermore, couples were obligated to personally visit the county clerk's office to obtain a marriage license.

Then in 2019, the Utah County marriage license office collaborated with the information technology departments to introduce an innovative, entirely digital marriage license application process. This revolutionary system effectively removed the need for couples to physically visit the office to both obtain and submit their marriage licenses.

One notable feature of Utah's online marriage procedure is its inclusivity, offering accessibility to individuals regardless of their place of residence. Generally, marriages legally solemnized in one state are recognized across the United States, adhering to both state and federal regulations. Crucially, this means that a couple who legally marries online through Utah's system will have their marriage acknowledged by other states.

It is important to note that, in general, marriages conducted legally in one country are widely accepted in most other countries, highlighting the broader international recognition and validity of such unions.

Traditional Marriage Process in Canada

General Requirements

Getting married in Canada involves several steps, and the process may vary slightly depending on the province or territory. Ensure that you and your partner meet the eligibility criteria for marriage in Canada. You both must be at least 16 or 18 years old, depending on the province or territory. Same-sex marriage is legal throughout Canada.

Ontario

  • Valid passport (including a photo)
  • Original, certified birth certificate
  • Photo ID
  • Completed marriage license application
  • Authorization from the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations if one or both parties are divorced.

The minimum age for marriage in Ontario is 18. Marriage licenses, obtainable with a $110 fee, are available from the issuer at any municipal office. In case of divorce, a fully completed and signed marriage license application, a certified copy of the divorce or annulment decree, a statement of sole responsibility for each foreign divorce signed by both applicants and a legal opinion from a lawyer addressing the recognition of the divorce or annulment must be forwarded to the Office of the Registrar General.

For more information, visit the Government of Ontario.

British Columbia

  • Certified birth certificates
  • Photo ID
  • Proof of marital status
  • Certified divorce or death certificates if one or both parties have been previously married.

The minimum age for marriage in British Columbia is 19. Marriage licenses, ranging from $75-$100, are issued by the Marriage License Issuer in their community or any Registry Agent Office at the time of application. The license is valid for three months. The religious representative or Marriage Commissioner conducting the ceremony assists the couple in completing the necessary Marriage Registration Form, which must be sent to the Vital Statistics Agency within 48 hours of the marriage.

For more information, contact the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency at (250) 952-2681 or (604) 660-2937.

Alberta

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Certified death or divorce certificates if one or both parties were previously married
  • Names and birthplaces of your parents.

The minimum age for marriage in Alberta is 18. Both parties must apply for a marriage license together, in person, at a Marriage License Issuer at any Registry Agent Office. The fee is applicable, and the license is valid for 90 days.

For more information, contact Alberta Government Services at (877) 427-4088.

Other Forms Needed for Marriage in Canada

Whether opting for a religious or civil ceremony, two main forms are required: banns and the marriage license.

Banns

  • A traditional religious ritual for first-time marriages.
  • Also known as the "publication of banns," it holds deep significance for many couples.
  • The church recognizes your intent to marry, often with a formal announcement during a worship service.
  • All parties involved, including the officiant, sign the banns.

Marriage License

  • Valid for 90 days from the date of issue.
  • Obtainable at a local town hall, city hall, or municipal court office.
  • Each party must show two pieces of official government documentation, such as a valid passport, birth certificate, record of immigration, Canadian Citizenship card, valid driver’s license, or valid Ontario photo card.
  • A fee, varying by province, is required.

Getting a Marriage License Online in Canada

Individuals may have the option to acquire a marriage license from their local municipality. It is advisable to check the municipality's official website to ascertain the availability of this service. 

To secure a marriage license, the following steps are generally required:

  1. Complete a marriage license application.
  2. Provide two pieces of government-issued identification for each party involved in the marriage. At least one piece of identification per person must include a photo.
  3. Examples of acceptable identification include a government-issued birth certificate, valid passport, record of immigrant landing, Canadian Citizenship Card, valid driver’s license, or a valid Ontario Photo Card.
  4. Provide any necessary supporting documentation, such as proof of divorce, if applicable.
  5. Ensure that at least one person attends an in-person visit to pick up the license.
  6. Pay the required fee, with fees varying depending on the municipality.

Applicants can download the marriage license application form from official sources and then proceed to apply for the license. ServiceOntario now extends its pilot service to facilitate online applications in select municipalities, though applicants should be aware that they might need to travel a significant distance to pick up the license, depending on the chosen municipality.

By following these guidelines, individuals can navigate the process of obtaining an online marriage license in Canada.

Note: This information is based on available guidelines and may vary depending on the specific requirements of each municipality.

Courtly: Simplifying the Online Marriage Process in Canada

Courtly provides a user-friendly and streamlined solution tailored for couples seeking a simplified marriage process. This inventive platform allows couples the flexibility to complete the entire procedure remotely, alleviating the need for extensive documentation. Through Courtly's efficient approach, couples can effortlessly and promptly obtain a legitimate U.S. marriage certificate, significantly improving the overall convenience of the matrimonial process.

Step-by-Step Guide for Getting Married Online in Canada with Courtly

With Courtly, couples can seamlessly navigate the entire marriage process online, regardless of their location, making the acquisition of a valid U.S. marriage certificate quick and straightforward, often within a 48-hour timeframe and with minimal documentation requirements. Here's a step-by-step guide for utilizing Courtly's services:

1. Create an Account

To register on Courtly, click on the "Get Married" icon in the top right corner and follow the provided instructions. Once the account is created, access to the platform is granted.

2. Choose ceremony format, setting, and officiant.

Take action by selecting the ceremony format, setting, and officiant. Depending on your chosen time and day, Courtly pairs you with a legally qualified U.S. officiant.

3. Payment Confirmation

Complete the payment for your selected wedding package and await the confirmation email from Courtly. Explore the available wedding packages and add-ons on the Pricing Page.

4. Online Celebration

Celebrate your marriage online with loved ones from the comfort of your home or any location with a reliable internet connection. The ceremony typically lasts around 15 minutes.

Receive a digital copy of your U.S. marriage certificate immediately after the online wedding. A printed copy is delivered within 1 to 2 weeks. Additionally, you can download your digital marriage license shortly after the ceremony.

Do You Need an Apostille for a U.S. Marriage Certificate in Canada?

When a marriage is legally conducted abroad, Canada typically recognizes it as valid, eliminating the need for an apostille or registration in Canada. The Canadian government's website provides further details on this recognition process.

An apostille, issued by the Secretary of State or the Lieutenant Governor, serves as a unique certificate facilitating the recognition of a legal document from one country to another. This validation ensures that your marriage certificate adheres to the standards outlined in The Hague Apostille Convention of 1961. Consequently, the document gains acceptance in countries that are signatories to the convention.

To navigate the specifics of obtaining an apostille, it is crucial to stay informed about the requirements and procedures in your jurisdiction. Seeking guidance from Courtly or relevant authorities ensures access to accurate and current information.

Online Marriage and Immigration in Canada

According to the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), online marriages are generally invalid under most circumstances. The IRCC explicitly states on its official website that marriages where one or both parties are not physically present at the ceremony will not be recognized. However, there is an exemption to this rule for members of the Canadian Armed Forces. If you belong to the armed forces, you may be exempt from this recognition restriction. Further details and specific requirements for this exemption can be found on the IRCC's official website.

Conclusion

Online marriages, although not universally recognized by immigration authorities, have gained prominence. However, couples must navigate this terrain with caution. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not generally acknowledge online marriages unless both parties are physically present at the ceremony. Notably, members of the Canadian Armed Forces might be exempt from this rule.

While online marriage offers convenience, it's essential to be aware of the legal implications, especially concerning immigration. To encourage couples to consider online marriage in Canada, thorough research and compliance with regulations are paramount. Understanding the requirements outlined by the IRCC and consulting relevant authorities will contribute to a smoother process.

FAQ

Do you need to register an overseas marriage in Canada?

Marriages that are legally performed in a foreign country are usually valid in Canada, and you do not need to register them in Canada. 

Does the IRCC accept online marriage?

The IRCC explicitly states on its official website that marriages where one or both parties are not physically present at the ceremony will not be recognized. 

Can I get a marriage license online in Canada?

Yes, certain provinces in Canada like Ontario have brought their license application online. The marriage license would be applicable for in-person weddings.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

Get Married