Recognition of overseas marriages

The Attorney-General’s Department has responsibility for developing policy about issues relating to family law and marriage, including who can get married, who can solemenise marriages and the validity of overseas marriages. The rules governing whether or not a marriage is valid under Australian law are to be found in the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).

There are currently no Australian diplomatic or consular officers appointed to solemenise marriages overseas under Australian law.

Marriages entered into overseas are generally recognised as valid in Australia

if the marriage was recognised as valid under the law of the country in which it was entered into, at the time when it was entered into, and
providing the marriage would have been recognised as valid under Australian law if the marriage had taken place in Australia.

There is no requirement to register a marriage in Australia which takes place overseas. The foreign marriage certificate is prima facie evidence in Australia of the occurrence and validity of the marriage in that country.

Marriage to an Australian citizen does not automatically guarantee entry of a citizen of another country to Australia. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection can advise on immigration to Australia.
You should consult a legal practitioner if you need advice on whether a marriage which has taken place overseas is recognised as valid in Australia.

The basic rule of foreign marriages generally being recognised as valid in Australia is subject to the following exceptions:

where one of the parties was already married to someone else;

where one of the parties was, at the time of the marriage, domiciled in
Australia and either of the parties was not 18 years old;

where neither of the parties was, at the time of marriage, domiciled in Australia, the marriage shall not be recognised as valid in Australia until one of the parties is 16 years old;

where the parties are too closely related under Australian law (including relationships traced through adoption or an adoption that has ceased to have effect) i.e. either as ancestor and descendant, or as brother and sister (including half-brother and half-sister);

where the parties to the marriage are both of the same sex, or;
where the consent of one of the parties was not real consent due to duress or fraud, a mistake as to the identity of the other party or as to the nature of the ceremony performed, or mental incapacity.

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