Marriage registration in Hong Kong is governed by the Marriage Ordinance. All
marriages contracted under the ordinance involve the voluntary union for life of one
man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. There is no residential or
nationality requirement for marrying parties but neither of them can be under the
age of 16 years.
Normally, the Registrar of Marriages should be given at least 15 days' notice of
an intended marriage and the marriage must take place within three months from
the date of giving the notice. Before the introduction of the Civil Celebrants of
Marriages Scheme, a marriage could only take place in one of the five marriage
registries, or any of the 257 licensed places of public worship. In 2006, 38 603
marriages were celebrated in the marriage registries and 2 865 in licensed places of
An appointment to give notice of marriage to the Registrar of Marriages can be
made through the Internet under the Electronic Service Delivery Scheme or the
Interactive Voice Response System. During the year, over 98 per cent of the parties
who filed their marriage notices on the first day of the notice-giving period did it
through the system.
The Registrar of Marriages is also responsible for issuing Certificates of Absence
of Marriage Records. During the year, 18 740 such certificates were issued.
The Marriage (Introduction of Civil Celebrants of Marriages and General
Amendments) Ordinance came into effect on March 13, 2006, allowing marrying
parties to engage a civil celebrant to celebrate marriages at any time and place other
than the marriage registries and licensed places of public worship. During the year,
1 097 people were appointed as civil celebrants who solemnised 8 824 marriages.