Prior to 1 March 1982, marriages carried out according to traditional or customary rites are considered valid and deemed registered. However, after 1 March 1982, all marriages must be registered, in accordance to the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 (LRA)otherwise it is not valid.
All marriages taking place after 1st March 1982 must be monogamous until one of the parties dies or the marriage is otherwise dissolved. Both parties must be unmarried at the time of a (new) marriage. Marrying another person during the lifetime of a husband or wife (commonly known as bigamy) is an offence under Section 494 of the Penal Code and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 7 years and liability to a fine. The subsequent marriage shall also be deemed void.
Marriages between certain prohibited close family relationships, including grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren and siblings, etc are prohibited.
There are 3 different procedures for solemnisation of marriage:-
Every marriage must be solemnised in the presence of at least 2 witnesses and only where the Registrar is satisfied that both parties freely consent to the marriage.
A special licence from the Chief Minister is required when:
A marriage authorised by a special licence from the Chief Minister must be solemnised within a month from the date of the licence, failing which the licence becomes invalid.
An objection or caveat against a marriage is a legal notice filed with a court to prevent a marriage proceeding until the opposition can be heard. A caveat acts as a warning to both parties to the marriage that the intended marriage is not complying with the requirements of the Legal Reform Act 1976. Any person may lodge a caveat in the prescribed form costing RM20.00 with the Registrar of Marriages. If there is a caveat entered, the Registrar will not issue the marriage certificate. The Registrar will make enquiries of both parties on the objections, and then decide whether to issue the marriage certificate.
A marriage may be solemnised by an appointed Registrar at the Malaysian Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate in the country abroad under the following conditions: