February 2021
Update on Marriage Licence Services

2021-02-10 1:20:06 PM

On February 8 2021, the Ontario Registrar General (ORG) sent a communication to Ontario Marriage Licence Issuers.

Validity Period

As you may be aware, amendments to the Marriage Act came into force in August 2020 which allowed for the extension of the marriage licence validity for a period of time as a result of a province-wide declaration of emergency made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protect Act (Section 27(4)) and under conditions set in Schedule 1 of the Act.

The ORG noted that with a second province-wide declaration of emergency made, the validity period has been extended for certain licences issued.

In particular: 
  • Licences issued between December 1, 2019 and July 24, 2020 are still valid and can be used until July 24, 2022; and
  • Licences issued between October 1, 2020 and the end of the second province-wide emergency due to COVID-19 will be valid from the date they are issued until 24 months from [the day following the] end of the second province-wide emergency.
  • Validity period for marriage licences issued between July 25th 2020 and September 30th 2020 have not been extended and are only valid for three months from the date issued. Those who did not use their licence issued during this period will need to purchase another licence. 

Replacement Licences

The ORG also notes that where couples may have lost or destroyed their unused marriage licence or critical information on the licence is no longer accurate, they must obtain a replacement licence without having to pay the provincial fee. 

Despite incurring costs to provide this service, the ORG is also asking municipalities at their own discretion to considering waiving any administrative fee they may collect when issuing a replacement marriage licence. That said, the ORG will provide municipalities with new licences for each licenced that is replaced. 

Licence Issuance and Civi Marriage Services

The ORG is not able to advice on whether or not a municipality can temporarily suspend issuing licences or providing civil marriage services, noting the the Marriage Act provides authority to the municipal clerk to issue licences and through regulation under the Act to perform marriages. The ORG suggests getting advice from a solicitor if considering suspension of these services. 

Virtual Marriages 

The ORG reminds municipalities who offer civill marriage services that couples cannot be married virtually.

Memo from the ORG re: Update on Marriage Licence Services


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