We got married and now we need to get ourselves a civil marriage and a marriage certificate. One good reason for this is that I am currently in India on a tourist visa which will only last six months so I need to get a long-term visa (and eventually a OCI card two years later).
How does a foreigner marry an Indian in India?
We would be married under the Special Marriage Act (1954), this form of marriage allows Indians from different religions or Indians and foreigners to get married (but aren’t all marriages supposed to be special). There are also different marriage acts for different religions, the Hindu Marriage Act (1955) for example. Under the Hindu Marriage Act (1955), marriages can be dissolved if one of the pair develops an incurable form of leprosy or if one day one of them decides to renounce the world.
I arrived in India with my full birth certificate, my passport (obviously) and proof of my address (my provisional drivers license- British passports do not state the address so it was lucky I had it). My husband also needed his passport, birth certificate and a proof of address. We both had to have passport sized photographs made, without any prior warning, I cringe when I see mine.
First thing we had to do was go to see a lawyer to make an affidavit. This had to be made because neither of my parents were there to ‘give me away’, the affidavit confirmed that I was willing to marry my husband (it seemed a little strange, but something we had to do).
Three witnesses were needed; our lawyer, my husbands best friend and my mother-in-law were our witnesses. We made lots of trips to the xerox (otherwise known as photocopy) shop, we had to have copies of all our documents and the documents (passport and proof of address) of the witnesses.
All five of us then went to the registry office. It was a beautiful but unusual place, people were typing on old fashioned typewriters and offices were in the open air, outside a grand(ish) British built building. I had the usual confused looks from passersby. The registry office itself was packed full of people registering all matter of things from the purchase of a car to a birth of a baby, everyone kept asking why I was there.
Piles and piles of ancient looking paper, slowly degrading, were stacked behind the registrars and falling out of cupboards. Years and years of records were in that room, I wondered how many years exactly. I sat and looked at them for ages, it was really busy so it took a long time.
After signing three copies of the notice we had our photocopies verified against our documents and we were then ready to submit our notice.
After all documents were signed and verified, we had to confirm our names and addresses to the registrar. It was quite funny, she asked us if this type of marriage has ever occurred before. She did not ask to see a ‘Certificate of No Impediment’ (UK version of a single status affidavit), she said because it states I am a ‘Miss’ in my passport, so it is fine… I think other registry offices in India may not be as relaxed about it as they were in Nagpur.
Our notice then sat in the registry office for 30 days, thankfully no one objected to our legal union. We returned to the registry office and became husband and wife… again. It was quite a surreal moment and not how I pictured I would be saying those vows.
Summary of documents required for a civil marriage in India between a foreigner and Indian:
- Full birth certificate
- The foreign party will need a visa for more than 30 days (we got married whilst I was on a 6 month Tourist visa)
- Proof of address
- Certificate of No Impediment/Single Status Affidavit
- Passport sized photographs
Of course, this may vary from court to court so don’t take this list as gospel, I would suggest contacting a local lawyer to advise you on what you will need to avoid your marriage being denied.