What is a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage
In some countries, foreigners must provide evidence that they are free to marry, before a legal marriage ceremony can be held in that country. A Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) can be issued for this purpose.
A CNI is not a requirement under Australian law. The CNI is a general statement of the law in Australia concerning the recognition of foreign marriages. It states that the person named in the certificate has signed a declaration and, on the basis that the declaration is true and correct, there is no legal reason why they cannot marry.
The Certificate also states that the Australian Consulate-General, Mumbai are unable to confirm whether the person named is actually free to marry.
The signed CNI application form is the equivalent of a Commonwealth statutory declaration, as it is effected under the Statutory Declarations 1959 (Cth) and is a legal declaration by a person that they are free to marry. Some countries require both the CNI and the signed application (declaration), as it forms the legally binding statement.
It is your responsibility to ascertain whether or not the CNI must be issued in that country, or if a CNI issued in Australia or a third country is acceptable with the government authorities in the country in which you intend to marry. Rules can vary in different parts of the same country. Because of this, you should check with the government authorities in the state or province where you intend to get married.
Who is Eligible for a Certificate of No Impediment
A Certificate of No Impediment can be issued if, on the basis of information supplied by the applicant, the couple meet the criteria which would render a marriage legal in Australia, i.e.
- the parties are not closely related
- they are both of marriageable age (at least 18 years old)
- neither is already married.
Under Australian law, individuals under the age of 18 cannot legally marry. If either person listed on the CNI application form is under 18 years old, the CNI cannot be issued. It does not matter if the local age for marriage is under 18 or if the applicants have parental consent. Only an order from an Australian court can authorise a marriage where a party to the marriage is under the age of 18.
Australian law also states that a couple cannot be married more than once and cannot be married in Australia if they have already been married under the law of another country. However, under the Marriage Act 1961, there is nothing prohibiting a couple from having another religious ceremony after they have been married, but it cannot purport to be a ceremony of marriage and no documents can be prepared or filed in relation to the religious ceremony.
Applying for a Certificate of No Impediment
The Australian national is considered as the applicant and he/she needs to come in person to apply for a Certificate of No Impediment. It is not compulsory for the intended spouse to visit the Consulate. The CNI application form is available by following the link - https://smartraveller.gov.au/services/legalising-documents/pages/overseas.aspx.
Supporting identification and evidence must be submitted with the CNI form for both the applicant and the intended spouse. The applicant will need to provide his/her valid original passport with their application for a CNI. The intended spouse can provide a valid passport or any other valid government identification which provides evidence of their full name, date of birth, place of birth and nationality as a valid form of identification. Multiple government issued identifications can be accepted to satisfy this requirement.
If either party is divorced or widowed, the relevant original decree absolute or original death certificate needs to be provided. The only divorce decree acceptable by the Australian Consulate-General is the one issued by the court of law of that country.
Please note that if there is any doubt that your intended marriage will be recognised by Australian authorities, you should consult a lawyer as officers at the Australian Consulate-General, Mumbai are unable to determine this on your behalf.