So you have found your soulmate and you love India; or just the crazy idea of tying the wedding knot in an exotic location exhilarates your core. Either way, this guide will help you plan your special day and ensure that all of your paperwork is in order before you arrive in India to get married.
India as such does not issue a visa to get married. Therefore, a tourist visa would suffice. But make sure not to go for the e-Tourist Visa (eTV) as it is valid for only 30 days. You would need much more than that. The regular tourist visa is typically issued for 6 months or more.
You can expect to spend at least 60 days before you can actually get married in India. Before you can make an intent to marry at the local marriage registrar’s office in your region, at least one of you has to be resident in that region for at least 30 days. Also both the parties should have been in the country for the same amount of time. You should have documented proof of your residency. Thereafter, another 30 days will be spent waiting on a notice as explained below.
Intent to Marry
Special Marriage Act, 1954
The law that governs the marriage of two foreigners in India is governed by the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The same Act also governs the marriage of an Indo-foreigner couple and an Indian couple belonging to different religions.
The couple is required to make an official intent to marry at the local marriage registrar’s office. Once the intent of marriage has been made, under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, the marriage registrar is required to put up a notice in a state recognised newspaper (e.g. Amar Ujala) as well as on the notice board at the registrar’s office. This notice is valid for 30 days. The purpose of the notice is to give anyone from the society an opportunity to object to the intended marriage of the couple, if they have a valid reason.
If there is an objection, the marriage registrar will then make a ruling on the case. And then, if necessary, the couple can go through an appeals process. If there were no objections, the couple can then proceed with their marriage after the 30-day notice period has passed.
In addition to the notice period above, in case of foreigners, the marriage registrar needs to acquire a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from their respective embassies. This is a rather peculiar subject because requirements for each country can differ. Therefore, details of this topic are beyond the scope of this guide. We recommend checking for marriage requirements in your home country.
The local marriage registrar in India will seek this document. If the concerned embassy does not comply even after reminders, the marriage registrar may be able to proceed with the civil ceremonies at the discretion of the Additional District Magistrate (ADM) also the designated ‘Special Marriage Officer’.
Civil marriage above is the requirement for obtaining a legal marriage certificate under the Special Marriage Act of 1954. Performing religious ceremonies with friends & family is entirely your choice. Nevertheless, evidence of a religious marriage, such as photos, can be very helpful in case of one of the partners being an Indian citizen who might seek to emigrate to his or her spouse’s country. Embassies tend to treat such evidences as ‘strong proof’ of a genuine marriage.
Note: Many couples might just be interested in being part of the Indian culture, and therefore would be willing to conduct a religious wedding without the need of a legal marriage certificate. Hostel of Love would be happy to help you with this!
The Marriage Certificate
Once all the documents are fulfilled and if the Special Marriage Officer is satisfied with the proceedings, a legal Marriage Certificate will be issued under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. This marriage certificate is valid all over India.
However, you should check with the local authorities in your home country whether they recognise marriages certified in India or not. Laws in many jurisdictions may require you to register your marriage with the local marriage registrar.
Documents Required for Getting Married in India
- Both the Bridegroom and the Bride must provide individual Affidavits before the Special Marriage Officer. The affidavit must state your full name, father’s name, residency status, nationality and your marriageability including your age and marital status.
- If possible, the No Objection Certificate from your embassy.
- A valid Passport and/or original Birth Certificate can act as proof of date of birth and age verification.
- 3 Passport-sized Photos for each individual.
- Proof of residency – at least 30 days in the jurisdiction for Indian citizens (utility bills can indicate your residency) and 30 days in the country for foreigners (your currently valid visa can help and may be required).
- Individuals who have been married before must provide the Divorce or Death Certificate of the former spouse.
Prohibited Civil Relationships in India
Although same-sex relationships have recently been legalised by the Indian authorities, getting married to a person of the same-sex is still not possible.
Marriage between individuals who fall ‘within the degree of prohibited relationship’ is not possible either. These include full blood, half blood, as well as relationship through adoption.