To get married in Ireland you need to get a marriage registration form. This is sometimes called a 'marriage licence'. It gives you permission to marry. It is needed for all civil, religious or secular marriages. You get the marriage registration form from a HSE Civil Registration Service.
To get the marriage registration form, you must give your local HSE Civil Registration Service at least three months' notice that you intend to marry. To do this you need to book a marriage notification appointment. You should do this as early as possible as waiting times vary from location to location.
Both of you must attend this appointment and bring the required documents with you. The HSE Civil Registration Service have an appointment checklist which sets out everything you will need. At the appointment you will meet with a Registrar and both of you will sign a declaration stating that you do not know of any legal reason why you cannot marry.
For some reason, it might not be possible to give at least three months' notice to the HSE Civil Registration Service. In special circumstances you can apply to the court to get a marriage notification Exemption Order. This allows you to apply to the HSE Registration Service for a marriage registration form without giving three months notice.
You should contact your local HSE Civil Registration Service who will advise you on how to start the process. They will also let you know if you will need to get a marriage notification exemption order.
How to apply for a marriage notification exemption order
If you need to get a marriage notification exemption order, you can apply to the Circuit Court or the High Court. Most applications are made to the Circuit Court.
It is an informal procedure. You do not need a solicitor. There is no court fee for this application.
The following steps apply to the Circuit Court.
Decide where to make your application
You and your partner can apply to the court in the county in which either of you live or work. You can also apply to the court in the county where you intend to marry if that is different. For example, if you and your partner live and work in Galway but have planned to marry in Sligo, you can apply to the Circuit Court in either Galway or Sligo.
Complete and submit application documents
Contact or visit the court office and ask for an application form.
Fill out the application form, making sure that it is signed and dated by both applicants.
Let the Courts Service staff know the reason you could not give three months' notice of your intention to marry. Tell them about any time-sensitive concerns you may have, such as serious illness of one of the couple or a family member. They will help you make your application as quickly as possible. Courts Service staff will also let you know if you need to provide any additional documents needed, such as:
- An affidavit sworn by both applicants that sets out the reason(s) why you were unable to provide three months’ notice to the Civil Registration Service.
- A letter from the HSE Civil Registration Service stating that you require an exemption order from the court
- A letter from the celebrant confirming the date and place of the marriage. For example, a letter from the priest if you are getting married in a church.
- Other documents that support your application.
Attend the court hearing
Courts Service staff will tell you when and where to attend for your court hearing. Both parties must attend the court and provide a form of photo ID, such as a driver's licence, passport or Public Services Card. If one of the parties is unable to attend, let court office staff know beforehand, especially if one of the couple or a family member is seriously ill.
Applications are usually heard by a County Registrar but may also be heard by a Circuit Court judge. At the hearing, they might ask for evidence on oath from both parties and ask for additional information.
If they are satisfied with the application, they will grant the order.
After the hearing, ask the court office staff when your marriage notification exemption order will be ready.
In many cases the order will be ready on the same day. In some cases, it can take up to two weeks. If you haven’t received the order within that time, you should contact the court office.
Meet registrar at HSE Civil Registration Service office
If the marriage notification Exemption Order is granted, you will still have to make arrangements to meet a registrar at a HSE Civil Registration Services office. You will have to give them the certified copy of the exemption order provided by the Courts Service.
This must be done at least five days before you get married. In exceptional circumstances, the registrar will consider a shorter time limit.
If everything is in order and there is no legal reason why the marriage cannot happen, the registrar will issue you a marriage registration form. This is like a marriage licence. It gives you permission to get married.