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Marriage licences may be obtained from the City Clerk's Office:
- between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday to Friday
for a fee of $125.00 paid by cash, personal cheque or debit card. A marriage licence will be issued only to one of the parties to the proposed marriage.
A marriage licence issued by an Issuer of Marriage Licences for the City of Port Colborne is valid anywhere in Ontario for a period of three (3) months from the date of issue.
Who May Marry?
In Ontario, barring other legal impediments, persons who have attained the age of 18 years of age may marry, including same-sex couples. No person under 16 years of age may marry. Any person who is 16 or 17 years of age (other than a widow, widower or divorced person) may marry only with the written consent of both parents or his/her legal guardian. A special consent form is available for this purpose from the Clerk's Office. If consent is required and is not forthcoming or is refused, an application may be made to a judge to dispense with consent.
Under the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act (Canada), no person shall marry another person if they are related as grandparent, parent, child, grandchild, brother or sister. These restrictions apply whether the relationship is by whole or half blood or by order of adoption. Any prior marriage must be legally dissolved or annulled before a person may enter into a new marriage.
A marriage may be solemnized only under the authority of a marriage licence or under the authority of the publication of banns.
How do I Apply for a Marriage Licence?
A marriage licence application must be completed and signed by the applicant and joint applicant. At least one party to the proposed marriage must apply in person and present two original pieces of identification for each applicant. The required identification documents must include an original birth certificate (with any change of name certificate, if applicable) or current passport or Record of Immigration Landing if refugee or Canadian citizenship card if refugee together with one other piece of government issued photo identification. Only original, valid identification documents in the English Language will be accepted.
If an applicant or joint applicant for marriage licence has been previously married, the following additional information will be required:
(a) If the marriage was dissolved or annulled in Canada, the original or
court certified copy of the Decree Absolute or Certificate of Divorce
dissolving or annulling the marriage. Individuals can obtain a
certified copy of their Decree Absolute or Certificate of Divorce from
the Court House in the jurisdiction where the divorce was granted.
(b) If the marriage was dissolved or annulled outside of Canada, the
applicants must obtain authorization from the Minister of Government
and Consumer Services for the marriage. To obtain authorization,
send the following documents to the Office of the Registrar General,
Marriage Office, P.O. Box 4600, 189 Red River Road,
Thunder Bay, ON P7B 6L8:
•· a completed marriage licence application
•· a Statement of Sole Responsibility for each divorce signed by both
parties of this marriage
•· an original or court-certified copy (certified by the proper court officer in
the jurisdiction the divorce or annulment was granted) of the divorce
decree or annulment. If the decree is in a language other than
English or French, include a translated copy together with an
affidavit sworn by the translator.
•· A legal opinion from an Ontario lawyer, addressed to both applicants,
giving reasons why the divorce or annulment should be recognized in
the Province of Ontario. The Office of the Registrar General will fax a
sample legal opinion letter to your lawyer if you call 1-807-343-7568
or toll-free in Ontario at 1-800-461-2156.
(c) Where the earlier marriage of one of the parties was terminated by
the presumed death of a spouse, a court order declaring the
presumed death of the spouse must be obtained.
There are no requirements respecting residency, pre-marital blood tests or medical certificates.
Marriage licence application form
Publication of Banns
A marriage may be solemnized under the authority of the publication of banns where both parties to the proposed marriage worship regularly in Canada. No one may marry under the authority of the publication of banns if there was a previous marriage (dissolved or annulled). Further information regarding marriage under authority of publication of banns may be obtained from a member of the clergy.
Who is Allowed to Perform Marriages?
A religious marriage may be performed by a member of a recognized religious organization who is authorized to perform marriages in Ontario under the Marriage Act. The person must be registered with the Office of the Registrar General to perform marriages. A list of religious officials registered to perform marriages in Ontario is available on the Service Ontario website. A judge, justice of the peace or municipal clerk may perform a civil marriage under the authority of a marriage licence. Civil ceremonies by a Justice of the Peace are not currently available in the Niagara Region. The Clerk of the City of Port Colborne also does not currently provide this service.
How Do I Register the Marriage?
It is the responsibility of the person who performed the marriage to forward the signed marriage licence to the Office of the Registrar General for registration.
How do I get a Marriage Certificate?
After the marriage, you may receive a Record of Solemnization of Marriage from the person who performed the wedding. This document includes the couple's names, the date of the marriage, the names of the witnesses and whether the marriage was performed under the authority of a licence or the publication of banns. This is not a legal record.
A marriage certificate proves that a marriage has taken place. A marriage certificate may be obtained by: the bride or groom; a parent of either the bride or the groom; or, by a child of their marriage (natural or adoptive). You may get a marriage certificate application and related information (including fee for service), on the Service Ontario website. Please note that marriage certificates and information relating to particular marriages cannot be obtained through local marriage offices.
From time to time, requests for marriage certificates are received from persons doing genealogical studies. The Archives of Ontario has the indexes (where they exist) and registration books from the Office of the Registrar General of Ontario for Marriages from approximately 1801 to 1926. (Note: There are many gaps in pre-1869 marriage records.) These records are publicly available on microfilm. Another year of records is sent annually to the Archives. For further information on how to access these records please go to http://www.archives.gov.on.ca. For information/certificates regarding more recent registrations, you must contact the Office of the Registrar General. You may or may not be entitled to apply for this information depending on your particular circumstances.
Do I Have To Change My Name After I Get Married? How Do I Change My Name?
The name on your Birth Certificate is your legal name. You do not have to get a legal name change to use your spouse's name as your last name. Instead you can assume your spouse's name. Assuming a name is not a legal name change, so it does not change your birth certificate. Most people assume a name instead of undergoing a legal name change.
To assume a name, once you are married, you may apply to change all your identification (health card, drivers licence, passport and banking information, etc.) with the support of your marriage certificate. You may assume your spouse's last name (surname) or a combination of your last name and your spouse's last name.
If at any time you wish to revert to your legal name, you simply revert back by presenting your birth certificate as proof of your legal name. However, should you choose to do this, all your identification must be changed to reflect the name you will now be using.
Legal change of Surname
Individuals may choose to legally change their last name as a result of a marriage or common-law relationship by filling out an "Election to Change Surname" form.
Couples living together in a conjugal relationship (common law) will also need to file a form called a "Joint Declaration of Conjugal Relationship".
There is no fee for this type of name change if it is made at the time of the marriage or at the time of filing a "Joint Declaration of Conjugal Relationship".
Please be aware that if you elect to legally change your name and were born in Ontario, your last name (surname) as it appears on your birth certificate will change. Your birth certificate will show your new name and your previous last name. If you wish to revert back to your previous name at any time, you will need to contact the Office of the Registrar General to complete another name change.
Legal name change packages are available through the Office of the Registrar General in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Please call 1-800-461-2156 or visit the Service Ontario website.