You probably thought the hard part was over when you proposed to your partner? Maybe, you have waited a long time to be proposed to and are sure all that’s left is to find that perfect wedding dress? No, not at all. It is now time to consider the issue of a marriage registration. There are so many nuances to be covered and think about. Where do I submit Irequest? How do I get a marriage certificate? How much does it cost? How long does it take? And many other related questions may flash in the minds of the puzzled fiancés. So, this reading material will come in handy if you are ready to put that ring on your finger. Well, here we go!
Luckily, Nigerians can choose any wedding ‘format’ they would like to have. In other words, a couple might choose to do the traditional wedding ceremony, a white wedding (like in foreign movies with a gorgeous gown and tuxedo), or a simple ceremony at a Registry Office. Everything is up to you. We will mainly concentrate on legal issues of this long-awaited event here.
Marriage registry in Nigeria
Despite the differences in types of wedding ceremonies, one common trait of each one is getting the marriage certificate. To get it the couple has to go through the a few bureaucratic red tapes.
According to ‘Marriage Act’ (1990), there are two Federal Marriage Registries in Abuja and Lagos, and plenty of other local ones. So, you can choose one in your state and address it appropriately.
When you visit the local Registry Office the next thing you need to do is write a declaration of marriage. A registrar provides you with a special form (Form A) to fill in. It requires to jot down all the personal data: name, age, address, occupation, marital status, parents written consent (if you are under 21) and signature. You will need to file two passport photographs. After that, your notice will be analyzed thoroughly and posted on the door of the Registry Office. It takes 21 days overall. The official makes an entry of your declaration to the Marriage Notice Book.
After that, the lovebirds have to cough up and pay the Prescribed Fee. The sum differs in regions but the cost is no more than N25,000.
The next phase of the procedure is to wait 21 days. If their is an urgent need to get married earlier, there is an option to do so. For this, you will need to purchase a special license. The fee is higher. So, be ready to pay more. Otherwise, when the 21 days expire the couple may come to the Registry Office to continue the procedure.
At this point, the fiancés must fill in three forms. The first is an affidavit where the applicants write down their age and marital status (single, divorced or widowed). If a person is widowed or divorced, then he or she has to produce the respective certificates (the divorce settlement, the death certificate of the late spouse). And if a person is under 21 and wants to get married, a written consent from his/her parents must be filed too.
The second form is ‘Prohibited Degree Form’. It is designated to show the categories of people a person can and cannot be legally get married to.
The filling in of the third document implies jotting down names and surnames of parents or close relatives and witnesses.
After that, the couple swears on the Bible or Koran that the personal data they had produced is correct and right. After this, the most tedious part of the procedure is over! Now the betrothed can finally relax. The marriage ceremony can be done within two days or you can pick a suitable date (on the condition that the day of the wedding must be Thursday, or Saturday if you applied for the special license).
The Big day!
We have described the whole procedure of getting the marriage registration in Nigeria. The newlyweds get the marriage certificate after the wedding ceremony in a church or at the Registry Office. The honeymooners have to sign three copies of the marriage certificate. The witnesses do the same. One copy is for the Registry Office, and the other is for the newlywed. The third copy is sent to one of the Federal registry offices to be kept.
As you see, the procedure of court marriage registration is not tangled. On the contrary, it requires clarity, accuracy, patience, and well-informed decisions from the couple.