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Marriages Performed on Diplomatic and Consular Premises

Circular Note No. XDC-0874 of December 30, 2010

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) presents its compliments to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Chargés d’affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada and has the honour to raise the issue of marriages performed on diplomatic and consular premises.

The Department requests the assistance of Diplomatic Missions in relaying the content of this Note to all heads of consular posts in Canada.

When a foreign mission or consular post allows for the solemnization of marriages on its premises with the intent of having these marriages officially registered or recorded in Canada, it is the duty of the head of mission or post to first ensure compliance with the conditions and formalities prescribed by Canadian laws for the formation of marriages and observance of the aforementioned conditions and formalities.

In order for a marriage performed in Canada to be considered valid under Canadian law, it must comply with the acts and regulations in force in the province in which the marriage is performed. In Canada, the solemnization of marriages falls within the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces. Before the marriage, the couple may have to obtain a marriage license from their province of residence or publish a notice of marriage. The provinces set out the list of persons who are legally authorized to perform, register or record marriages in that province, which in most cases does not include foreign diplomatic agents and consular officers. A marriage performed in Canada by a foreign diplomatic agent or consular officer will generally not be considered a legally valid marriage, even if it is legally recognized under the laws of the sending State of the officiating diplomatic agent or consular officer.

For greater certainty as to the validity of marriages performed within diplomatic missions and consular posts under current provincial law, diplomatic missions and consular posts should contact the relevant provincial authority and inform the individuals concerned that their marriage may not be considered valid under Canadian law.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Office of Protocol) avails itself of this opportunity to renew to Their Excellencies the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and Chargés d’affaires, a.i. accredited to Canada, the assurances of its highest consideration.

OTTAWA, December 30, 2010

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Date Modified:
2012-10-02