Understanding the Law
October 8, 2004
Registration of marriage

The Marriage Contract

Matters pertaining to marriage are contained in the Marriage Act, Chapter 173 of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Revised Edition 1990). Females must be 15 and over and males 16 and over to enter a valid marriage contract.

Both male and female under the age of 18 years must have the consent of their parents or legal guardian in order to obtain a marriage licence. {{more}}The Registry provides a consent form to this effect. No consent is required at the age of 18 as this is the age of majority in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

For persons who have been married previously, a valid decree absolute must be presented to the registering clerk with the application. Items such as birth certificate or passport must be provided to support the application.

A marriage licence is issued in response to a successful application. There are two types of marriage licences available. These are the Registrar Certificate and the Governor General’s licence. The Registrar’s Certificate is issued at the High Court Office. Before it is issued a notice is posted on the notice board at the Court House for seven working days. This licence is issued at the cost of $15.

The application for the Governor General’s licence is obtained at the High Court Office, but the licence is issued at the Ministry of Legal Affairs. It requires the signature of two persons – the High Court Registrar, a notary public or minister of religion and it is issued at a cost of $500.

A marriage licence is valid for three months. If the marriage is not solemnized within that time a new licence must be obtained. A legal marriage cannot be contracted without a valid licence.

A licence must be submitted to a licensed marriage officer before the marriage takes place. Only licensed marriage officers (representatives of religious denominations), the Registrar of the High Court and the Deputy Registrar (professional) could perform marriage ceremonies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The declarations of the parties are made in the presence of two witnesses who must be 18 years and over.

A marriage officer who performs a marriage must subsequently submit the duplicate form to the High Court Office so that the marriage could be registered. A marriage certificate is then issued on request at the cost of $10.48 ($10 in stamps and $0.48 for the receipt). The marriage cannot be registered if the duplicate copy is not returned to the General Register Office. If the copy is not returned or is lost or destroyed, the parties concerned would have to apply for registration at a later date and this no doubt will result in some costs.

Late Registration of Marriage

Where a marriage has been solemnized but for some reason the information was not registered or was erroneously or imperfectly registered or where the information is lost or destroyed, either of the parties could apply to have the marriage correctly registered. Where the parties are dead then an issue (child) of the parties or representatives would apply to have the marriage registered. Notice of intention to register must first be published in the Government Gazette. The notice must be attached to the application to a judge in chambers for an order to register. After an order is made to this effect the Registrar must register the marriage and issue the certificate.