May 2021
Update on Marriage Licence Services

2021-05-04 9:49:36 AM

The Ontario Registrar General (ORG) has sent two recent memos with important updates for Ontario Marriage Licence Issuers to be aware of.  

New Interim Tool 

The ORG’s April 15, 2021 memo is regarding an interim tool developed by ServiceOntario for municipalities that are currently providing or plan to provide partial marriage licence issuance service virtually. As noted by the memo, AMCTO, AMO and some municipal representatives have been working with ORG and ServiceOntario staff to develop this interim tool.  

AMCTO continues to use collaboration opportunities with ORG and ServiceOntario to advocate for modernizing their procesess. Municipalities that choose to use this tool can have applicants preview a proof copy of the front of the marriage licence that is populated with the information the applicant provided to confirm and/or correct information before the applicant’s in person appointment.  

While this tool is interim, the ORG has indicating that they are continuing to work towards modernizing the process for issuing marriage licences further. They also ask that municipalities continue to communicate their own interim process for issuing marriage licences with the public, as processes can vary between municipalities.  

The updated Marriage Licence Application Form is available at:

Provincial Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act 

The ORG’s April 30, 2021 memo is in response to the Provincial Emergency declared on April 7, 2021, which extends the validity period for certain licences issued. Since the extended validity periods due to the second and third province-wide emergencies overlap, the updated periods are below: 

  • Licences issued between December 1, 2019 and July 24, 2020 are still valid and can be used until July 24, 2022; 

  • Licences issued between October 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 are still valid and can be used until February 10, 2023; and 

  • Licences issued between January 1, 2021 and the end of the third provide-wide emergency due to COVID-10 will be valid from the date they are issued until 24 months from the end of the third province-wide emergency.  

Please note that the validity period for marriage licences issued between July 25, 2020 and September 30, 2020 has not been extended.  

The validity period for foreign divorce authorizations issued by the ORG has also been extended for the same duration as the extended marriage licence validity periods noted above.  

As noted in the March 17, 2021 memo, the ORG encourages municipalities to direct couples who either purchased a licence that has expired or who may require a replacement licence to for details about the replacement process.  

The memo also reminds municipalities that the Marriage Act, 1990 requires Ontario marriage to be solemnized in the presence of the parties to the marriage, at least two witnesses, and the marriage officiant, which means that couples cannot be married virtually.  

Finally, the ORG notes that they are not able to advise on whether or not a municipality can temporarily suspend issuing marriage licences or providing civil marriage services and recommends obtaining legal advice from a municipal solicitor should a municipality consider suspending services.  

Memo to Marriage Licence Issuers re Marriage Licence Application Form
Memo to Marriage Licence Issuers re Issuing Marriage Licences and Providing Marriage Services


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