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5 Steps to Getting Married in British Columbia as a Foreigner: A Comprehensive Guide

All images by Pursell Photography. 
All images by Pursell Photography. 

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As a wedding photographer who has worked with numerous couples in British Columbia (BC), I understand the excitement and challenges that come with planning a wedding, especially for foreigners. This blog post is designed to shed light on the process and requirements of getting married in BC as a foreigner.

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Step 1: Gather Required Documents

Before you take the plunge, you’ll need to gather the necessary documents. This includes a completed marriage license application, photo IDs for both parties (passports work best), and proof of single status for the foreigner. This proof could be a divorce certificate or a document indicating you’re single, which should be translated into English if necessary.

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Step 2: Apply for a Marriage License

At some point within the three months prior to your wedding date, you must apply for a marriage license. Only one party is required to apply, but they must do so in person and show primary identification for both parties. This process might seem daunting, but it’s a key step in making your union official.

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Step 3: Choose a Marriage Commissioner

Next, you’ll need to find a marriage commissioner. These officials provide couples with flexible nonreligious options for their weddings. Any person performing a marriage ceremony in BC must be registered with the Vital Statistics Agency.

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Step 4: The Wedding Ceremony

At the wedding ceremony, the couple, two witnesses, and the officiant marrying them must sign the Marriage License and Registration of Marriage. It’s a simple but important part of the process that makes the marriage legally binding.

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Step 5: Waiting for the Marriage Certificate

Every couple marrying in BC receives a marriage certificate by mail once Vital Statistics has registered their marriage. On average, couples receive their marriage certificate three weeks after the wedding takes place. However, if you’re getting married around holiday time or in peak wedding season, processing times can be longer. For international recipients, this process may take several weeks or even months, so plan accordingly.


Additional Information

In BC, either spouse can choose to take the other’s last name or keep their own after the marriage. Legally changing your name is not required, and you can also revert to your previous name at any time.

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If you’re considering getting married abroad, be aware that you must follow the marriage laws of that country. Some foreign countries require non-residents to provide a document confirming their eligibility to marry. Vital Statistics can search BC’s marriage records and provide you with a document that states whether you’ve been married in the province.

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This guide should give you a comprehensive understanding of the steps to getting married in BC as a foreigner. As with any significant event, preparation and understanding of the process will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. So, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials, and welcome to BC!


Lastly, a wedding isn’t complete without capturing those magical moments. As you embark on this exciting journey, consider hiring Pursell Photography to document your big day. Our team of professional photographers is experienced in capturing the essence of love stories, especially for international couples tying the knot in BC. We’ll help you create timeless memories that you’ll cherish forever. Contact us today to discuss your needs and see how we can make your special day more memorable.


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