Getting Married In Singapore
Some couples are content to tie the knot at the courthouse down the road. But for those who are more adventurous, a destination wedding -- and an international marriage -- are a must. The Huffington Post's guide to international marriages will tell you everything you need to know to get legally married in Singapore. Read on to ensure all of your paperwork is in order before booking your ticket. --Susan Ory Powers
Residency Requirement And Waiting Period
Either the bride or groom must reside in Singapore for at least 15 days before filing a notice of intention to marry with the Registrar of Marriages. There is a 21-day waiting period from the date the notice was filed. If no marriage takes place within three months, the notice expires. Exceptions to the marriage process apply to Muslims, who must file through the Registry of Muslim Marriages and follow that agency's mandates.
Intent To Marry
Intents to marry take the form of the filing notice. The registrar is responsible for posting these notices in the registry office. Religious intents to marry (sometimes referred to as banns) will vary from one religion to another, and if a couple is planning a religious ceremony, the selected religious officiant should advise.
Wedding ceremonies in Singapore may be civil or religious. The registrar at the Registry of Marriages will perform ceremonies during business hours and not on weekends or holidays. Other civil authorities who may officiate are justices of the peace and grassroots leaders. Eligible religious authorities who may solemnize include those who represent Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and the Baha'i faith. The Registry of Marriage has a list of those licensed to solemnize. There are no legal restrictions on wedding sites, so the place and time are subject to the pleasure of the couple and whomever is solemnizing the marriage. Two witnesses older than 21 are required. The Women's Charter is the Singapore Statute under which marriages are governed, and that law stipulates that at some point in the ceremony, bride and groom must "declare that he or she is willing to take the other party as his or her wedded wife or husband."
The Marriage Certificate
For unions solemnized at the registry, the wedding will immediately be registered. For ceremonies outside the registry, the couple must appear at the Registry of Marriages within one month of the wedding with two witnesses and produce documentation that the marriage has taken place. The marriage is then registered, and the registrar or a deputy will deliver the finalized marriage certificate to the bride and groom.
After residency requirements are fulfilled, the Notice of Intention is submitted to the Registry of Marriages via online filing. The registry will communicate online with filing instructions as to the couple's appointment time at the registry (usually three to five days before the ceremony) and a list of documentation required for the meeting. For foreigners, passports will be required; nationals need a National Registration Identity Card. For those younger than 21, third-party consent is necessary. The official solemnizing the marriage must fill out a form, which can be downloaded online. The couple must present the form at the appointment. If either party has been previously married, a divorce decree or death certificate is required.
Same-sex marriage is not recognized in Singapore. The Women's Charter specifies in Section 12, Amendment Act No. 30 of 1996, that a ceremony between two people, "who, at the date of the marriage, are not respectively male and female shall be void." The statute does allow for the marriage of transgender people who are officially registered on their National Registration Card with their latest gender identification to wed someone of the opposite sex. But otherwise, Singapore remains restrictive. The Singapore Penal Code, Chapter 224, Section 377A, considers male-to-male sexual acts "outrages on decency" and carries a prison term of up to two years.
Once residency requirements are met and the couple file the notice to marry, the couple may legally leave Singapore during the 21-day waiting period and return for their appointment at the registry. According to the U.S. Department of State, English is one of the main languages spoken in Singapore, so a translator may be unnecessary. Nevertheless, if a couple is planning an exotic ceremony conducted by an elder officiant, the bride and groom should make sure there is no language barrier to their understanding the vows. Other languages spoken in the area are Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and sometimes other Chinese dialects.