Marrying a US citizen in Canada is an option to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident. In fact, you do not need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident to get married in Canada, there are no residency requirements. Unlike other countries, no medical tests are required. Waiting periods between issuing the license and performing then ceremony varies among the provinces. In Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Northwest Territory, Nunavut, Ontario and Prince Edward Island there is no waiting period for marrying a US citizen. In Quebec there is a 20 day waiting period for the publication of the banns.
There are three basic steps to getting married to a US citizen in Canada: you need a marriage license, two witnesses and a person authorized to perform the ceremony. You also have to pay a fee for the license, the person performing the ceremony and the marriage certificate. Fees vary widely from $20 to $250 according to the province.
Getting a Marriage License
The first thing to do if you are marrying a US citizen in Canada is to apply for a marriage license in the province where you intend to marry. You can apply at any Registry Services office or in some cities like Toronto it can be done online. A Canadian marriage license is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. In the province of Ontario, you and your American fiancé(e) should fill out and sign the application to marry together. Either partner can go to the city hall to submit it, but they need to provide the following information for both fiancés:
- The date you plan to marry a US citizen
- Birth Certificate or Passport
- Written parental consent if under 18
- Proof of marital status.
In some provinces you will also have to supply the full names of your US fiance(e)’s parents as well as your own parents. This information must include the mothers’ maiden names and all parents’ place of birth. It is wise to consult your province or territory’s Web site for province specific information.
If all documents are correct, the license will be issued the same day.
Widowed, Divorced or Under Age
Marrying a US citizen is more complicated if you or your US fiancé(e) has been widowed, divorced or are under age for a legal marriage in Canada.
If either of you have been widowed you must provide the death certificate of your former spouse and the marriage certificate, both of which need to be written in English or French or translated and signed by a professional translator who must also swear an affidavit to confirm the authenticity of the documents.
If you have been divorced and your divorce took place in Canada, you should provide the original or a court certified copy of your final divorce decree, judgment or certificate of divorce.
If you or your US fiancé(e) were divorced outside of Canada, you must get an endorsement from the Minister of Government Services before the Registrar will issue the marriage license. Each province has its own office. You need to submit a Statement of Sole Responsibility signed by both of you, which states that you both understand that issuance of a marriage license does not mean that the courts will recognize your previous divorce. You will also need to visit a lawyer in your province to get a written legal opinion, which is addressed to both of you, explaining why the divorce should be recognized in the province.
In the case you are marrying a US citizen who is under 18 years of age, they will need to provide written parental consent, which must be signed in front of the Registrar by the parents. Parental consent may not be necessary if a judge decrees so e.g. if the bride to be is pregnant.
Arranging Your Marriage Ceremony
Once you get your Marriage License, you can arrange your marriage ceremony. Canadians marrying a US citizens in Canada can have either a civil or a religious ceremony.
If you decide on a religious ceremony you may have to allow for banns to be published; your religious minister will advise on this procedure. Any religious representative, recognized by a religious body to perform marriages, and is registered to perform marriages under the Marriage Act in the region where you want to get married can perform religious ceremonies.
If you opt for a civil ceremony, you should contact a civil official when you apply for your marriage license. Different civil officials are authorized to perform ceremonies in different provinces. In some provinces they are called Marriage Commissioners, and in others they can be called clerks of the service or ‘prothonotaries.’
Marrying a US citizen in Canada requires two witnesses aged 18 or over. At your ceremony, the minister or marriage commissioner presiding over the wedding will fill out the registration forms, which are then recorded at the Division of Vital Statistics. You may be given a Statement of Marriage after the ceremony; this is a temporary document to prove you are married until the marriage certificate is issued. You must apply for your certificate from the Division of Vital Statistics.
Changing Your Name
If you or your American spouse decides to change your name after the ceremony, you are free to do so, but there are no legal requirements to do this.
If your American spouse decides to change their name, they have to change it on the following documents:
- Social insurance card
- Revenue Agency
- Health card
The marriage certificate must be presented as a proof that the name has changed.
Your American spouse does not have to change the name on their birth certificate and there are no fees associated with this type of name change. If at any time and for any reason, they want to use the name on the birth certificate again, they can revert back to it legally without filling out any official forms.
It takes approximately 6 to 8 weeks to process a name change in Canada.