The Ontario government announced in a news statement that it is taking steps to extend the expiry period of most marriage licences that have not been used due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This change is being made as a proposed amendment to the Marriage Act, and if passed, will help reduce the financial and administrative burden for many engaged couples.
“Marriage is an important milestone for a couple,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “COVID-19 has impacted marriage plans for couples across the province, with many making the difficult decision to postpone their weddings. Our government wants to make the process for these couples easier, so they have one less thing to worry about during this challenging time.”
The province is proposing to extend the expiry date for most marriage licences issued between December 1, 2019, and the end of the province-wide Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19. These licences would still be valid and could be used for up to 24 months from the end of the Declaration of Emergency. Couples with a qualifying unused marriage licence issued during this timeframe are encouraged to hold onto it. They would have up to 24 months to use it and would not need to replace their marriage licence.
If there has been a change of name or marital status, or a couple no longer has their unused licence, they would have 24 months from the end of the province-wide Declaration of Emergency to apply for a replacement licence at no provincial cost. The replacement licence would be valid for three months from the date it was issued, so couples would only apply for a replacement within three months of their rescheduled wedding. Couples needing a replacement licence are encouraged to contact the municipality where they purchased their unused licence.
“I would like to thank the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the municipal partners who worked with us to develop this solution,” said Minister Thompson. “This reduces the burden for many of these couples by saving them the time and money that would be needed to apply for a new licence.”
- In Ontario, marriage licences are issued by municipalities and are typically valid for three months from the date issued.
- Couples can still get married in-person but must adhere to the current provincial restrictions on gatherings and requirements for physical distancing.
- If the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 is passed and receives Royal Assent, marriage licences issued between December 1, 2019, and the end of the province-wide Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19 would still be valid and could be used for up to 24 months from the end of the Declaration of Emergency. Ontario will waive the $75 provincial fee if a couple requires a new licence because critical information on the licence purchased between December 1, 2019, and the last day of the province-wide emergency is no longer accurate or the original unused licence has been lost or destroyed.
- Couples requiring a replacement licence can apply at a municipality that issues marriage licences. There would be no provincial fee for a replacement licence, but municipal fees may still apply.
Source: Ministry of Government and Consumer Services | Featured Photo: illustrative purposes