India is considered a melting pot of diverse races, religions and cultures. So more the cultures more the reasons to celebrate them and one thing is sure that India is known worldwide for its lavish celebratory ceremonies. But more importantly marriage is considered a sacred institution in Indian culture.
All the religions have different traditions they follow when it comes to marriage like the Hindu marriage act 1955, Muslim Personal Law, 1973 etc but then there is an exception when it comes to an Indian citizen marrying a foreigner.
This scenario falls under special circumstances. And for this we will have to take a look at the SPECIAL MARRIAGE ACT OF 1954 and the FOREIGN MARRIAGE ACT, 1969.
Conditions for a valid marriage:
According to the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969:-
Conditions relating to solemnization of foreign marriages.—A marriage between parties one of whom at least is a citizen of India may be solemnized under this Act by or before a Marriage Officer in a foreign country, if, at the time of the marriage, the following conditions are fulfilled, namely:—
(a) neither party has a spouse living,
(b) neither party is an idiot or a lunatic,
(c) the bridegroom has completed the age of twenty one years and the bride the age of eighteen years at the time of the marriage, and
(d) the parties are not within the degrees of prohibited relationship: Provided that where the personal law or a custom governing at least one of the parties permits of a marriage between them, such marriage may be solemnized, notwithstanding that they are within the degree of prohibited relationship.
The Special Marriage act, 1954
It provides with three major reliefs for the intending parties:-
- To provide a special form of marriage, in certain cases
- To provide for registration of certain marriages
- To provide for divorce
The paper work that a foreign national needs to complete in order to marry an Indian citizen is to:-
- Draft an affidavit confirming his/her interest in the marriage.
- And if there is a foreign marriage certificate already existing, it will be recognized.
- One party should have been staying in India for at least 30 days before applying to get married. The certificate of proof for the same can be procured from the Indian police.
Documents required for registering the marriage :
- Application form signed by both the parties
- Proof of date of birth
- Proof of residence and address in India for at least 30days prior to the wedding
- A valid passport for both the parties
- Passport size photographs
- Ration card/ visa indicating the duration of stay in India
- Affidavit by the couple stating the date and place of marriage
- Marriage invitation, if available
- In case of a catholic wedding, certificate from the priest who is conducting the marriage
- In case the couple are converts, then certificate of conversion
- Attested copy of divorce decree, in case one person is divorced
- Death certificate, where applicable in case you have been previously widowed
How to register the marriage?
This union of two people will be governed under the Special Marriage Act. The requirements of registering a marriage under the Special Marriage Act is same as prescribed under the Hindu Marriage Act. The intending parties will give a minimum of 30 days of notice to the sub- registrar, of the area where at least one of the parties resides. They also need to provide a priest’s certificate (in case of a catholic wedding) who will be conducting the ceremony. Once the ceremony is completed, the marriage registration will take place immediately at a minimal cost of 100- 200 rupees.
At the registration office there will be three copies of the notice of marriage needed to be signed. And also a confirmation of address and names to the registrar. Once this formality has taken place, the registrar will paste a copy of the marriage notice on his office notice board. And, within the a period of 30 days of the publication of such a notice, if there is no objection from an external person like a relative or divorced spouse etc the marriage will be formally registered. However, if there is an objection, the registrar will conduct an enquiry, and after it gets completed, and then the marriage will be formally registered.
To get married to a foreigner in India does require a little extra paper work but when two people come together to form a lifelong union, it is not a lot. Marriages have been considered a very sacred union of India. It is not only a coming together of two people but their families as well. So for that a few formalities won’t even count when we look at the bigger picture.
There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage. – Martin Luther
The Special Marriacge Act, 1954
The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969
The Hindu Marriage Act,1955
About the author –
This article has been written by Adv. Irika G. Jyoti, Completed LL.B from National Law University, Jodhpur.