About Marriage

Marriage in Canada is a legal contract between two people who are equal under the law.

If you were married outside Canada

If you were legally married in the country you came from, then you are also legally married in Canada. If you want to marry someone else, you have to get a divorce that ends your first marriage.

If you want to get married in Canada

There are different ways of getting married. You can get married in a religious ceremony of your choice. If you are not religious, you can ask for a non-religious marriage performed by a public official. This is called a civil marriage. Even though a religious marriage and a civil marriage look different, they are both legal contracts and governed by the same laws.

Once you marry someone, you are married until you get a divorce or until you or your spouse die. This is the end of the contract of marriage.

Who can I marry?

If you want to get married in Canada, you must be single (not married) and aged 19 or over. You can marry someone who is the same sex as you, or the opposite sex.

You do not have to be a resident of British Columbia to get married here, but you must get a marriage licence. Anyone under the age of 19 must get the permission of their parents. The Supreme Court of British Columbia must consent to (approve) the marriage of anyone under the age of 16. You do not need a blood test to get married in British Columbia.

Who can I not marry?

You cannot marry a close relative.  Under the law, close relatives include:

  • parents
  • brothers and sisters
  • aunts and uncles
  • nieces and nephews
  • grandparents
  • close cousins

Finally, you cannot marry someone who is already married.  Also, if you are married, you cannot marry again until you get a divorce.  Canadian law is very strict about this.  A marriage is between two people only.

For more, see the booklet called Living Together or Living Apart.

Justice Education Society Citizenship and Immigration Canada Welcome BC City of Vancouver