Civil Celebrants of Marriages Scheme

Commencement of the Marriage (Introduction of Civil Celebrants of Marriages and General Amendments) Ordinance

The Marriage (Introduction of Civil Celebrants of Marriages and General Amendments) Ordinance ("the Marriage Amendment Ordinance") has come into operation on 13 March 2006.

The Marriage Amendment Ordinance amends the Marriage Ordinance, Cap. 181 ("the Ordinance") to empower the Registrar of Marriages to appoint civil celebrants of marriages and, to enable a marriage to be celebrated before a civil celebrant at any time and place, other than the office of the Registrar of Marriages or a deputy registrar of marriages (a "marriage registry") or a place of worship licensed under the Ordinance.

Under the amended Ordinance, the Registrar of Marriages has issued a Code of Practice for Civil Celebrants of Marriages to provide practical guidance in respect of the professional conduct of civil celebrants. After the publication of the Code of Practice in the Gazette, the Registrar has started inviting applications for appointment as a civil celebrant since March 2006.

Parties to an intended marriage may give a notice of intended marriage in person at the marriage registries, the Marriage Registration and Records Office or through a civil celebrant.

Invitation for Applications for Appointment as a Civil Celebrant of Marriages Under Section 5A of the Marriage Ordinance, Cap. 181

The Registrar of Marriages invites applications from solicitors and notaries public meeting paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Eligibility Criteria for Civil Celebrants ("eligibility criteria") specified in Schedule 4 to the Marriage Ordinance, Cap. 181 ("the Ordinance") for appointment as a civil celebrant of marriages ("civil celebrant"). A civil celebrant may celebrate a marriage at any time and place in Hong Kong, other than the office of the Registrar of Marriages or a deputy registrar of marriages (a "marriage registry") or a place of worship licensed under the Ordinance.

Paragraph 3 of the eligibility criteria provides that any person who wishes to be appointed as a civil celebrant will need to have completed a training course organized for the purposes of the Ordinance as the Registrar may specify. To enable an applicant to meet paragraph 3 of the eligibility criteria, the Registrar will, after receipt of the applications and on a first-come-first-serve basis, invite those applicants who have satisfied paragraphs 1 and 2 of the eligibility criteria to attend a training course organized by the Registrar.

Information on how to become a civil celebrant and the obligations of a civil celebrant are provided in the information pamphlet entitled "How to apply - Becoming a Civil Celebrant of Marriages". Application forms and the aforesaid pamphlets can be obtained free from the following locations -

  1. Immigration Department :
    1. Information and Liaison Section at 2nd Floor, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai (Telephone No. (852) 2824 6111);
    2. Marriage Registration and Records Office at 3rd Floor, Low Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Queensway (Telephone No. (852) 2867 2787); and
    3. Any of the marriage registries.

For the address and telephone no. of the marriage registries, please call the Information and Liaison Section at (852) 2824 6111.

  1. The Law Society of Hong Kong at 3rd Floor, Wing On House, 71 Des Voeux Road, Central (Telephone No. (852) 2846 0500); and
  2. Hong Kong Society of Notaries at Unit A, 11th Floor, Li Dong Building, 9 Li Yuen Street East, Central, Hong Kong (Telephone No. (852) 2536 0961)

The application forms may also be downloaded from the Immigration Department website at http://www.immd.gov.hk.

Appointment of Civil Celebrants of Marriages under Section 5A of the Marriage Ordinance, Cap. 181

Notice is hereby given that the first batch of 132 civil celebrants of marriages ("civil celebrants") is appointed on 21 April 2006.

Upon the appointment of civil celebrants, parties to an intended marriage may give a notice of intended marriage through a civil celebrant to the Registrar of Marriages or a deputy registrar of marriages ("Registrar"). They may also engage a civil celebrant to celebrate their marriage at any time within three months after the giving of the notice of intended marriage and at any place in Hong Kong, other than the office of the Registrar (a "marriage registry") or a place of worship licensed under the Marriage Ordinance.

Those who have given a notice of intended marriage at the marriage registry or the Marriage Registration and Records Office ("marriage registry or office") and wish to change to engage a civil celebrant to celebrate their marriage, shall in advance, either in person or nominate a civil celebrant, attend the marriage registry or office where the notice was given for formalities. They should ensure that the Registrar has issued a certificate of the Registrar before a civil celebrant can celebrate their marriage.

A list of civil celebrants has been compiled and will be updated from time to time. For information on the list, please visit the Immigration Department websites at http://www.immd.gov.hk. The list is also available at the following locations of the Immigration Department :

  1. Information and Liaison Section at 2nd Floor, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. (Telephone No. (852) 2824 6111);
  2. Marriage Registration and Records Office at 3rd Floor, Low Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong. (Telephone No. (852) 2867 2787);
  3. Any of the marriage registries.

For the address and telephone no. of the marriage registries, please call the Information and Liaison Section at (852) 2824 6111.

Marriage registries or office will continue to provide existing marriage related services such as accepting notice of intended marriage, celebrating marriage, providing marriage records etc.

Application for Appointment / Renewal of Appointment as a Civil Celebrant of Marriages (MR67, MR68 & MR69) and Information Leaflet "How to Apply - Becoming a Civil Celebrant of Marriages"

Link

Underpaid mail items will not be accepted by the Immigration Department. For proper delivery of your mail items, please ensure your mail items bear sufficient postage with return address before posting. (Details)

DOs & DON'Ts

( A ) Acceptance and Completion of Notice of Intended Marriage ("Notice")

DOs

  1. Do make sure the marital condition given on the notice is correct.
  2. Do remind the marrying party to declare his/her marital condition in writing and by circling the appropriate description on the marital condition column.
  3. Do remind the marrying party to sign on the marital condition column when he/she gives the notice. The signature should be identical to the one appended at the lowest part of the notice.
  4. Do submit translation document when the divorce certificate is not in Chinese or English.
  5. Do make sure the required supporting documents are in order for cases where parent's consent is required.
  6. Do make sure that the residential address on Part I is a partial address showing only the name of building, street/road and district.
  7. Do make sure that the affirmation (3) of the affidavit on page 2 is properly deleted where inappropriate.

DON'Ts

  1. Don't miss the signature of the civil celebrant of marriages ("civil celebrant") and the date of making the affidavit.
  2. Don't miss the signature of the marrying party who gives the notice.
  3. Don't miss the date of intended marriage.
  4. Don't use any notice that is not allotted to the civil celebrant taking such notice.
  5. Don't miss any English version of the residential address and parents' names.

( B ) Preparation, Signing and Transmission of Certificate of Marriage / Duplicate Certificate of Marriage

DOs

  1. Do make sure the registration number is correctly printed on the certificate of marriage and the duplicate certificate of marriage. [The registration number is a unique number allotted to each application, which is in the format of two alphabets following by four numerals. It is provided at the lowest part of the certificate of the Registrar.]
  2. Do make sure the marital conditions of the marrying parties are correctly input on the certificate of marriage and the duplicate certificate of marriage.
  3. Do confirm the accuracy of the names of the marrying parties, parents of the marrying parties and the civil celebrant.
  4. Do prepare and sign the certificate of marriage and the duplicate certificate of marriage one after the other.
  5. Do make sure the full name of the officiating civil celebrant and title "Civil Celebrant of Marriages" are printed on the certificate of marriage and the duplicate certificate of marriage.
  6. Do ensure to transmit the duplicate certificate of marriage to the Registrar within 7 days after the marriage according to section 21(7) (a) (iii) of the Marriage Ordinance ("Cap 181"). [Under section 31(2) (b) of Cap 181, a Civil Celebrant of Marriages who fails to do so shall be guilty of an offence.]

DON'Ts

  1. Don't miss the official stamp/embossing seal of the civil celebrant.
  2. Don't place a carbon paper between the certificate of marriage and the duplicate certificate of marriage when preparing or signing them.
  3. Don't make any alteration or amendment on the prepared certificate of marriage and duplicate certificate of marriage. An erroneously prepared certificate of marriage and duplicate certificate of marriage shall be cancelled (in set). A new set of certificates should be prepared and thoroughly checked to ensure to have no error before officiating the marriage.
  4. Don't use the certificates of marriage and the duplicate certificates of marriage that are not allotted to the civil celebrant celebrating the marriage.

( C ) Handling of Declaration (MR 65) and Supporting Documents

DOs

  1. Do ensure to return the original declaration (MR 65) signed by the marrying parties and the supporting documents together with the duplicate certificate of marriage within seven days after the marriage according to section 21(7) (a) (iii) of Cap 181. [Under section 31(2) (b) of Cap 181, a Civil Celebrant of Marriages who fails to do so shall be guilty of an offence.]
  2. Do make sure that supporting documents have been properly certified by the civil celebrant.

DON'Ts

  1. Don't miss the signature of the civil celebrant or the marrying party on the declaration form (MR 65).
  2. Don't miss the signature of the marrying parties on the acknowledgement part of the declaration form (MR65).

( D ) Others

DOs

  1. Do make sure to collect the certificate of the Registrar from the CCM Sub-section and forward it as soon as practicable to either of the proposed parties according to section 9(1E) of Cap 181. [Under section 31A (4) of Cap 181, a civil celebrant fails to do so shall be guilty of an offence.]
  2. Do provide a copy of the Code of Practice for Civil Celebrants of Marriages and an information leaflet prepared by the Registrar to the proposed parties according to paragraph 10 of the Code of Practice.
  3. Do confirm in writing (together with a copy of the certificate of the Registrar) if a proposed marriage is not celebrated within three months.
  4. Do ensure that the form of ceremony does not prejudice the solemnity of marriage and it allows parties to make clear, audible statement when required to do so under Cap 181.

DON'T

  1. Don't celebrate a marriage before the Certificate of the Registrar is received.
  2. Don't celebrate a marriage when the Certificate of the Registrar has expired.
  3. Don't make any alteration or amendment on the certificate of marriage and duplicate certificate of marriage after the marriage has been solemnized. [Only the Registrar may correct clerical errors on the certificates according to section 25 of Cap 181.]
  4. Don't replace the certificate of marriage and duplicate certificate of marriage by another set of certificates once they have been signed and authenticated.