Civil Marriage (Non-Muslim)


blog-wedding-ringsPrior 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.

Requirements for Marriage
  1. The man and woman must be at least 18 years old;
  2. Males and females who are above 18 but below 21 years of age must obtain consent from their parents; and
  3. Females who are above 16 years but below 18 years must get a special licence from the Chief Minister.
Monogamous Marriages

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.

Prohibited Relationship

Marriages between certain prohibited close family relationships, including grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren and siblings, etc are prohibited.

Procedures for Marriage

There are 3 different procedures for solemnisation of marriage:-

  1. Solemnisation of marriage at Registrar’s Office;
  2. Solemnisation of marriage under special licence from Chief Minister; and
  3. Solemnisation of marriage through religious ceremony, custom or usage.

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.

Solemnisation of marriage at the Registrar’s Office
  1. Both the parties should fill in a form for a notice of marriage to the Registrar of Marriages of the marriage district where they live.
  2. The Registrar will publish the notice by posting a copy on the notice board of the Registry, until he/she grants the certificate of marriage.
  3. The parties must make a date for the Registrar to solemnise the marriage at his/her officewithin 6 months of the date of the notice. If the marriage does not take place within this period, the notice and all subsequent proceedings become invalid and a fresh notice has to be given. The parties will be legally married after the solemnisation by the Registrar.
Solemnisation of marriage under special licence from Chief Minister

A special licence from the Chief Minister is required when:

  1. the prospective wife is above 16 years but under 18 years of age;
  2. the parties want to dispense with giving of notice and the issue of a marriage certificate;
  3. the Chief Minister is satisfied that it is more convenient for a civil marriage to be solemnised in some place other than the office of a Registrar.

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.

Solemnisation of marriage through religious ceremony, custom or usage
  1. Any person appointed as Assistant Registrar of Marriages may solemnise any marriage in accordance with the custom in which the parties to the marriage or either of them practise.
  2. The person may be a clergyman, minister, or priest of any church or temple who has been appointed as the Assistant Registrar of Marriages to which the church or temple belongs.
  3. Before the marriage is solemnised, a prescribed statutory declaration stating that the parties have complied with all requirements and that there are no legal impediments to the marriage must be delivered to the Assistant Registrar of Marriages.

Objection Against a Marriage

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.


Marriage Abroad & Foreign Marriages

Solemnisation of marriages abroad in Malaysian Embassies, etc

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:

  1. That one or both of the parties is a Malaysian citizen;
  2. That each party has the capacity to marry according to the Legal Reform Act 1976;
  3. Where either party is not domiciled in Malaysia, the proposed marriage, if solemnised, will be regarded as valid in the country where such party is domiciled; and
  4. That notice has been given within the specified time period and published both at the office of the Registrar in the Embassy, High Commission, or Consulate where the marriage is to be solemnised and at the Registry of the marriage district in Malaysia where each party was last ordinarily resident, and no caveat or notice of objection has been received.
Registration and Procedure of Foreign Marriages
  1. Any person who is a citizen a of Malaysia who is married abroad must:
    1. register the marriage within 6 months after the date of marriage at the nearest Registrar abroad OR before any Registrar in Malaysia;
  2. The person must:
    1. produce the marriage certificate to the Registrar; and
    2. fill in the prescribed form with the declaration in it.
  3. The Registrar may dispense with the appearance of one of the parties to the marriage if he/she is satisfied that there is good and sufficient reason for such party’s absence.