Marriage in Singapore

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Updated 2022-06-01 08:51

Getting married in a country other than your own is often a complicated and overly bureaucratic process. But in the land of efficiency, things might be much simpler than you think. Indeed, Singapore sets out clear procedures for foreigners to tie the knot.

Singapore allows both two foreigners or a foreigner and a local national to marry in the country. The procedures and authorizations required are different based on your immigration status. If you hold a work permit and wish to marry a Singapore citizen or a permanent resident, you'll require the approval of the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). To apply for approval, you'll need to complete the Marriage Application Form, which should then be sent to the Work Pass Division. Both the form and the address to which the application needs to be sent are available online.

Nevertheless, if you hold an S Pass or an Employment Pass, or was previously a work permit holder who has acquired Singaporean citizenship or PR status, no approval is required from the MOM.

Wedding administration in Singapore

Once you've ascertained the specific procedures associated with your immigration status, there are two major sources from which you can obtain information: the Registry of Marriages (ROM) and the Registry of Muslim Marriages (ROMM). These two were previously separate web pages but are now combined as the Our Marriage Journey page, which is provided by both ROM and ROMM.

Muslim marriages

A Muslim marriage requires different steps as well as eligibility requirements, which is why we've separated Muslim marriages from non-Muslim ones into their own sections.

Both parties must be Muslim and at least 21 years old. If either you or your bride is a convert, you need the official permanent conversion certificate from the Muslim Converts Association of Singapore (MCAS). Also, if you're a foreigner, you'll need a marital status letter from your country of origin that's no older than 90 days from the date of solemnization. If you're from Malaysia, Indonesia, or Brunei, you'll also need a letter of recommendation from your local registries of marriage or Islamic bodies. This letter must also be no older than 90 days from the date of solemnization.

First, you must seek consent from your wali, which is the bride's lawful guardian (usually the father). This ensures that the bride's family approves of the groom (you). This is because the wali's obligations will be turned over to you after you marry their daughter.

You'll then need to attend a marriage preparation program. You and your fiance will be taught useful skills in your life together; more importantly, you'll learn effective communication skills and conflict resolution methods. This sets you up for success in the future.

Now, you'll need to finalize all the key details. For example, you'll need to decide on your maskahwin and hantaran, as well as Kadi or Naib Kadi. You'll also need to determine which two people will be your witnesses, as well as which date and time you'll want your marriage solemnization, which can take place at either ROMM or somewhere else. Make sure your wali is available as well.

You're now ready to submit your marriage application, as you've figured out all the above details. You'll need to figure out where to apply, as there are several places to do so. There are also associated timelines and costs, so make sure to get started early to plan accordingly.

The next step is to meet with your Kadi or Naib Kadi. Not only will they provide you with valuable help for your upcoming wedding day, but also for your marriage for the next 2 years or so. It's important you stay connected so your relationship is as healthy as possible.

You should now book an appointment at ROMM for the officials to verify your documents, as well as your statutory declaration. Once you've attended the appointment, you can officially be solemnized. You'll then receive a copy of your marriage certificate.

Non-Muslim marriages

For non-Muslim marriages, at least one party must be non-Muslim, and both must be at least 21 years old.

If one of you is a foreigner, you must've stayed in Singapore for at least 15 continuous days before you submit a marriage application. If you are a current or former work permit holder, then you'll need to get approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before you can submit a marriage application with a Singaporean citizen or permanent resident. And if you plan on staying in Singapore long term afterward, it's recommended that you go through the Pre-Marriage Long Term Visit Pass Assessment (PMLA) by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) before you get married.

If both of you are foreigners, then there are different requirements based on your status. If one or both of you work in Singapore or have a long-term immigration pass, you'll need to show proof of a valid pass during your ROM appointment.

However, if both of you are on a short-term visit pass, you'll need to get Letters of No Impediment to Marriage from your home countries that have both your names, birthdates, nationalities, religions, and passport numbers. These letters must not be older than 3 months before your solemnization date. If your home countries don't have English as a primary language, then you'll need to provide the original copies and an English translation, both of which need to be authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your home countries. They also must be endorsed by the Singapore Consulate. In addition, you'll both need marriage records and single status documents if either of you has lived in a country for over six months in the last five years. Again, if the documents aren't in English, you'll need to have them officially translated and authenticated.

Here, attending the marriage preparation program is optional. However, it's highly recommended you don't skip this step, as you'll learn valuable life skills that'll help your relationship grow strong and healthy.

You'll want to set a wedding date and time, as well as pick the venue the marriage solemnization will be held at. Again, you can choose either ROM or an off-site location, which can be either in person or by video link. You'll also need to choose your two witnesses for the solemnization.

Next, choose and book your solemnizer. Do note that in Singapore, only a licensed solemnizer can officially pronounce you husband and wife, which means they're also the only person who can sign your marriage certificate during your solemnization. These people are volunteers, and you have approximately 1,200 licensed solemnizers to choose from at ROM.

You can now fill out and submit your marriage application. You'll also pay for the application at this time.

In the event you expect to solemnize your marriage outside of the ROM, you'll also be required to furnish a consent form from your solemnizer, a list of which is available from the ROM. Once you've completed all the details, you are required by law to carry out the solemnization procedure 21 days after filing your notice but not later than 3 months after the date of filing.

On your big day, you'll attend your appointment with ROM, either in person or via a video link. Your documents and statutory declaration will be verified. The solemnizer will then officially pronounce you husband and wife, and they'll sign your marriage certificate. You'll then receive a copy.

Marriage for people between 18 to 21

It may not be very common, but people between 18 to 21 do choose to get married. If this is your case, then you'll need to follow the steps below.

First, you'll need to get your parents' or legal guardians' formal consent. If you obtain it, then they'll need to attend your ROM appointment later on.

After this step, it's pretty much the same motions you need to go through as with a regular marriage. However, do note that the marriage preparation program is mandatory if one of you is a minor, so you might have to attend that. Then, you'll need to finalize your marriage details, book a solemnizer, and submit your marriage application.

When you get your ROM appointment, you'll go for verification of your documents and statutory declaration. You can then go through the solemnization and register your marriage. You'll also get a copy of your marriage certificate.

You should also note that if one or both of you are foreigners or one or both of you are foreigners who are current or former work permit holders, you'll be required to submit additional documents.

Marriage for people below 18

These occurrences are even rarer, but they do happen. In this case, you'll also need to obtain your parents' or legal guardians' consent for marriage. If you're Muslim, then you'll need to get your wali's consent as well.

After completing and submitting your marriage application, you'll need to go through a social assessment interview. The interviewer will determine whether or not you've considered marriage seriously and are prepared for it. Next, the marriage preparation program is mandatory for minors, so you'll need to complete this before you can move on with the next steps.

Now, you'll attend your ROM(M) appointment for document verification, and then you'll receive your application decision (this will come from INSPIRASI Hubs from the Kadi if you're Muslim; their decision will be mailed out to all parties involved). If it's approved, then you'll get a Special Marriage License. After you've confirmed that you can get married, you can now move on with wedding plans, such as choosing your two witnesses and booking your solemnizer.

Lastly, you'll attend your final appointment at ROM(M) and then become officially married. You'll receive a copy of your marriage certificate.

The wedding ceremony

There's a wide offering of wedding planners in Singapore, as well as exciting choices of amazing locations in which you can plan an unforgettable ceremony. Whatever you decide, though, don't let the excitement of the day overwhelm you: you're responsible for bringing all the necessary documents for the solemnization! If carried out remotely, the solemnization process can take place on a weekend or on a public holiday, which might be more convenient should you wish to solemnize in front of your loved ones.

Note, however, that it's possible for guests to attend a solemnization ceremony at the ROM, but only 20 guests are allowed within the premises. Finally, remember that there are dress code requirements for the solemnization process, which include a shirt and pants for the groom.

Singaporean wedding traditions

Singapore is an Eastern country, which means there are lots of traditions still practiced to this day. For example, instead of a wedding registry, guests give red envelopes instead. These are presented at the wedding banquet (reception), and each person gives around 10% of the wedding table. Basically, they're paying for a seat at the reception table.

Also, a tea ceremony usually goes with the wedding. The couple will go to the groom's house, and the bride will be formally introduced to everyone. She'll have to greet them by title and serve everyone tea. Only then will the family bless the marriage. Then, they'll go for another tea ceremony at her family's house, where the bride changes into the tea ceremony dress (known as the kua).

Many Singaporeans will also have a betrothal ceremony (guo da li). The groom and a trusted older female relative will present the bride's family with prosperous gifts, which are then placed in a traditional betrothal basket. Then, the bride's family will accept the gifts by sharing some of the items given to them. They'll also give the groom's family dowry, which usually consists of a tea set for the tea ceremony, gold jewelry, and fancy cutlery. Traditionally, the betrothal ceremony was held on an auspicious date that's separate from the wedding day, but nowadays, both are done on the same day.

Lastly, when selecting colors to wear for your wedding, you should stick with brighter colors. In fact, it's best to wear red since it's a color representing luck and happiness! Black should be avoided, as it represents death.

Useful links:

Advice from the Ministry of Manpower for work permit holders

Civil marriage process

Muslim marriage process

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.