Who can get married in New Zealand?

Anyone can marry in New Zealand as long as they’re not:

  • already married or in a civil union
  • under 16 years of age
  • closely related by birth, marriage or adoption

It’s completely legal for same sex and same gender couples to marry in New Zealand.

Who can marry us?

Only registered celebrants can perform weddings or civil unions in New Zealand. A registered independent celebrant can marry you at the time and location of your choice, with two witnesses present.

Can tourists get married while in New Zealand?

Most people can get a marriage licence.  You don’t need to be an NZ citizen. Visitors to NZ can marry or have a civil union while here.

What is the difference between using an independent celebrant and a registry ceremony?

An independent celebrant is able to personalise your ceremony, marry you at your choice of venue and you can get married on any day of the week that suits you both. What they charge is up to them for their time and services, and you will still need to organise and pay for your marriage licence.

A registry ceremony is different. It has a set cost of $240 and standard vows. You have to have it on a weekday, and not a public holiday. Only validated independent celebrants can do this, and you will be given a list of names to choose from when you apply for your marriage licence. 

What does a marriage licence cost?

Before you get married, you need to apply for a licence. A licence confirms it’s legal for you to marry. It costs $150+GST. You need to apply at least 3 working days before you want to get married. Your marriage licence is valid for 3 months from the date it’s issued.

Here is a link to ordering your marriage licence. Get A Marriage Licence  

What do I need before applying for a marriage licence?

You need to have chosen a Registered Celebrant to marry you, the location of your wedding and your back-up plan in case of wet weather.  You can only get married at the venue you detail on your Marriage Licence Application. You will need details about yourself and your partner, and at least one of each of your parents. If you have been married and divorced previously, you’ll also need a copy of the marriage dissolution order.

Does a marriage licence expire?

Yes, they expire after 3 months from date of issue.

Can I complete a marriage licence application by myself?

Yes, only one of you needs to complete the application, but you need information about both of you.

When do I need my marriage licence by?

You need to arrange your licence at least three working days before you get married, and make sure it is with your celebrant prior to the day. You can email it to them and they will print it off.

What happens after I apply for a marriage licence?

You’ll be sent the licence, and 2 copies of the “Copy of particulars of marriage or civil union” form. Give all 3 of these documents to your celebrant before your ceremony, preferably by email.

What is a marriage certificate?

Your New Zealand marriage certificate is an official record of your marriage. It costs $33 to get one sent to you.

Your certificate shows:

  • your full names before your marriage
  • your dates and places of birth
  • your occupations
  • your home address when you got married
  • your parents’ full names
  • the date and place you were married

You can use your marriage certificate as official evidence of your marriage. You will need this if you are changing your name.

Who can be a witness at our wedding?

Your two witnesses must understand what’s happening during the ceremony. They must be able to clearly identify both of you and be satisfied you both consent to the marriage.


  • don’t need to have known you for any specific length of time and
  • can be children of any age, so long as they understand the concept of a marriage.

If the witnesses speak a different language to you, you’ll need an interpreter. The interpreter has to sign a declaration before the ceremony to say they’ll interpret what you say accurately.

How many witnesses do we need to marry?

There need to be at least two witnesses at your wedding. One of them cannot be your celebrant.

Do I need to change my name when I get married?

When you get married, you can:

  • keep your last name
  • take your husband, wife or partner’s last name
  • hyphenate or use a combination of both your last names with a space in between.

If you want to change your last name, you don’t usually have to complete any forms or go through a process.

When you get married, you’ll be sent a form to update your details on the electoral roll. Otherwise, you can just start using your new last name.

Different organisations have different rules for proving ID, but you can usually use your marriage certificate if you need proof to show you’ve taken your partner’s last name.

You can choose to legally change your name — it’s up to you.

How is a civil union different?

Essentially the process is the same as for a wedding, except that you must apply for a civil union licence. A civil union is a formalised legal relationship similar to marriage. A couple can enter into a civil union whether they’re same-sex or different sexes. Civil unions were introduced in 2005.

Are there any restrictions to having a civil union?

You can’t legally have a civil union if you’re:

  • already married or in a civil union, unless you’re changing your relationship with the same person
  • closely related by birth, marriage or adoption
  • under 16

Is choosing a venue important?

Yes.  You can only get married at the venue you have put on your Marriage Licence application.  I recommend that you put a backup venue on your application, providing for wet weather.

How old do we need to be, to get married?

You must be 16 years old or more to marry in New Zealand.  If you or your marriage partner are 16 or 17 years old at the time of your proposed marriage, you will need a Family Court Judge to approve the marriage.

What vows do we need to include?

Vows and ceremony are up to you and your celebrant to put together.  The only legal requirement is that the phrase “I (your name), take you (your partners name), to be my legal wife or husband” must be included at some point during the vows.

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