Marriages in the ACT are performed in accordance with the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).

The person who performs the marriage ceremony is responsible for lodging registration documentation with Access Canberra.

To get married in Australia:

  • both people can’t be married already
  • you can’t be related to the other person
  • you must be 18 years old unless you are both aged 16 or 17 and the court has approved the marriage
  • you need to both understand what marriage means and consent to the marriage
  • you must participate in a marriage ceremony during which you need to say specific words
  • you must give notice of your intention to marry at least one month before the ceremony, but no longer than 18 months before.

The Australian Government’s Attorney-General’s Department explains:

  • who can legally perform the ceremony
  • how to give notice of your intention to marry and when
  • what a celebrant needs to do
  • how to make sure your celebrant follows the rules and submits your paperwork to Access Canberra.

Visit the Attorney-General’s Department website.

Request a marriage certificate

You can request a copy of your marriage certificate if you:

Read about requesting a marriage certificate.

Making a correction to the register

If there’s an error on the marriage registration you can apply to correct the record.

Applications can be made by:

  • either partner, or both partners
  • a marriage celebrant, if the marriage was registered within the last 2 months.

If one party is deceased you will need to provide a death certificate.

To fix a mistake on the register:

  1. Complete an Application to correct a register form [PDF 180KB] [DOCX 176KB].
  2. Provide 3 forms of proof of identity, with at least one being Primary proof of identity.
  3. Provide evidence to support the correction.
  4. submit it:

View the acceptable forms of identification.

There is no fee for corrections, unless you want a new marriage certificate issued.

Read about requesting a marriage certificate.

You can’t change a name on the register using this process.

Read about changing your name.

Changing your name due to marriage

In Australia, there is no expectation or requirement to change your surname when you get married.

If you want to change your surname to your spouse’s surname after getting married in Australia, your standard marriage certificate will typically be accepted as evidence.

You can use it in support of adoption of your spouse’s surname on key identity documents like driver licences and passports.

Read about marriage certificate.

Getting married overseas

The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Smartraveller website explains:

  • how to prove you’re free to marry
  • how to have your marriage recognised in Australia
  • how to gain citizenship through marriage.

Visit the Smartraveller website.

Recognition of overseas marriage

Your foreign marriage certificate is proof the marriage occurred and, in most cases, the marriage will be recognised in Australia.

You can’t register an overseas marriage in Australia.

It is possible you may encounter difficulties relying on a foreign marriage certificate as supporting evidence for adopting your spouse’s surname. In such instances, you may be asked to apply for a registered change of name.

Read about changing your surname.

Historic marriage index

Access Canberra keeps a register of historic marriages. These are marriages that were registered in the ACT more than 75 years ago.

The index has limited information but includes:

  • the registration number
  • both parties’ surnames and given names
  • the date of the marriage.

View the ACT Historic marriage index.


Access Canberra does not have responsibility for divorce proceedings.

Divorce matters are handled in the Federal Circuit Court.

Visit the Federal Circuit Court website.