If you are thinking of marrying in Hong Kong, it is extremely important to choose the right type of marriage. Agencies, Lawyers and Wedding planners offer different legal forms of marrying and choosing the wrong one could have great impacts on your joint future.
The wrong choice, for example marrying via a civil celebrant in Hong Kong, could derail all efforts in obtaining a Visa following your marriage.
With our service you can rest assured that the marriage certificate you receive is the right one and enables you to fully take advantage, of all the benefits that come with a marriage in Hong Kong.
In order for you to understand the differences better, we thought we explain you a little more about Civil Celebrant marriages.
Civil Celebrant marriages in Hong Kong
From time to time, some couples ask us: What is a Civil Celebrant Marriage? Is it an option for them as well? Is it more expensive or cheaper? Do the weddings take place at the same beautiful locations?
They saw the websites, mainly of lawyers and notaries, who advertise quick weddings inside funny painted office rooms and wonder what its all about.
Reylita and I (Stephan) had similar questions on our minds a few years ago, when we decided to get married in Hong Kong. However, we had to do a lot of research to find our answers.
So you don’t have to do the same, we want to explain you in a bit more detail what they actually are, whom they are for and most importantly – why we do not recommend nor offer them as part of our service.
What are civil celebrant marriages?
A civil celebrant marriage is a wedding carried out by a qualified notary or solicitor (lawyer) in Hong Kong. They will administer the whole wedding ceremony, including the vows and signatures.
Opposed to a classic marriage registry wedding, as we offer them with our packages, a civil celebrant wedding unfortunately does not take place in one of the 2 beautiful, official Registry buildings. (TheCotton Tree Drive Registryor the City Hall Registry)
A civil celebrant wedding ceremony usually takes place inside the mentioned lawyer’s or notary’s offices, the place where the person qualified to carry out the ceremony works. As you can imagine these offices are not worthy of a beautiful ceremony. Although you can request to marry elsewhere, this usually increases the costs for such drastically.
Marriage certificate and the problem of recognition
If you were to marry the civil celebrant way, the marriage certificate issued carries only the signature of the civil celebrant. There is no official stamp and seal on it.
You will only receive an official government stamp and seal on your marriage certificate, if you marry via one of the official marriage registries.
While both type of marriages are legal under Hong Kong law, there is a big difference if you are looking to have your certificate notarized by apostille service afterwards.
Why civil celebrant weddings are not a solution for international couples
Most of the couples we help get married come from different countries.
So that their marriage certificate is accepted in both home countries, the certificate must be apostilled, following their wedding.
This is a straightforward process if they got married in one of the official marriage registries and also necessary for any of their following Visa application.
However, if you marry via a civil celebrant service, you will not be able to have the wedding certificate notarized by an apostille service. The official government body (the High Court) will turn you away and request that you obtain a ”true copy of the marriage certificate”.
The true copy you would have received if you married via the Cotton Tree Driveor City Hall Registry.
All you can do now, is pay additional application and certificate fees and try to get the official record office of the marriage registry Hong Kong, to stamp and seal your marriage certificate.
As you can imagine, this increases your costs and takes up additional time.
It is not just the extra fees you need to be aware of, but also the fact you probably need to stay in Hong Kong much longer than anticipated. This means potentially changing your flights, staying longer in a Hotel and taking more time of work, i.e using more of your holiday days.
Why we never recommend a civil celebrant wedding
In addition, if the marriage certificate is shown to a foreign authority or for example a consulate or embassy (for example for the purpose of a Visa application), it is simply not accepted.
So for foreign authorities and governments you remain not married (single).
This is a major drawback for civil celebrant marriages and the reason they are not suitable for our couples, wishing to have a marriage certificate that is indisputably accepted and recognised by all governments, all across the world.
As you can see, with a civil celebrant marriage, you do not get the benefits that come with a marriage in Hong Kong.
Our recommendation: Beware of marrying via a civil celebrant, it may be suitable for Hong Kong residents, but not to you, your partner and your future plans. Take advantage of our experience, so you can rest assured that everything will work out as planned and your marriage in Hong Kong helps you and your partner’s future plans, not hinder them. Already when registering your intended marriage via the “notice of intended marriage”, you need to choose and tick the right box for the type of marriage you want. Any mistakes here can be costly later on. Part of our service is to make sure none of this can happen.
We hope we were able to help you explain the differences, but if you have any questions at all then please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.
Reylita & Stephan