The Marriage Process in India

Information on getting married in India under the Special Marriage Act…

Before applying for marriage under the Special Marriage Act (for inter-faith and non-religious marriages), the residency requirements must be met. Proof that either the bride or groom have been residing in the area of jurisdiction for at least 30 days needs to be given to the Marriage Officer at the local Sub-Registrar’s Office. Proof of residency can be acquired from the local police station.

A marriage application form then needs to be completed and taken to the Sub-Registrar’s office within the area the couple wish to marry.

  • Contact details for local Mumbai sub-registrar offices: Click here
  • Contact details for local Delhi sub-registrar offices: Click here
  • Contact details for local Kolkata sub-registrar offices: Click here

A marriage notice is then positioned in a public place for one month. If no objections to the proposed marriage are received in that period, the marriage can go ahead. After solemnisation through a formal ceremony, the marriage is registered.

The following documents, written in English, must be provided to the authorities conducting the ceremony:

  • Completed marriage application form (available from sub-registrar’s office)
  • Passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Proof of residency
  • Two passport-size photographs
  • If divorced, a copy of divorce decree
  • If widowed, certificate of death for deceased partner

You may also be required to provide documentation proving eligibility to marry, often called a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI). This can be obtained from the government registrations department in the home country or, once residing in India, from the consulate or embassy.

Some states may also require an affidavit showing date of birth, marital status and confirmation that parties aren’t related to each other as set out under the Special Marriage Act.

Required documentation, procedure and cost may vary slightly from state to state.

Special Marriage Act Ceremony

Three witnesses are required for the ceremony. The ceremony happens at the office of the marriage officer and involves questions to the bride and groom and the witnesses. After the marriage certificate is signed by both the bride and groom and the witnesses the ceremony is complete. The ceremony is very basic with little opportunity for personalisation.

The marriage certificate authenticates the marriage.