Complete guide to civil marriage in Quebec (2022 edition)

Table of Contents

magical time, as evidenced by the

1- The beginnings of civil marriage in Quebec
2- Civil marriage compared to religious marriage
3- Civil marriage compared to civil union
4- The minimum age to marry civilly in Quebec
5- Marriage of non-residents and foreigners
6- Civil marriage for LGBTQ2S+ people
7- Information and documents to provide to get married
8- Change of name upon marriage
9- The act of publication of a civil marriage
10- Witnesses required for a civil marriage
11- Quebec matrimonial regimes
12- The marriage contract
13- The different types of civil marriage celebrants
14- The advantages of the celebrant notary
15- Finding a marriage celebrant notary
16- Why choose Me Mona Salehi and her team as marriage celebrant
17- Checking your celebrant’s license
18- The price of a civil marriage celebrant
19- Authorized places of celebration of a civil marriage
20- The conduct of a civil marriage ceremony
21- Civil marriage deed and certificate
22- Organizing your wedding in Quebec
23- Preparing for your civil marriage from abroad
24- Celebrating your civil marriage during a pandemic (COVID-19)
25- Terminating your marriage
26- Checklist to not forget anything in planning your civil marriage
27- Contact Me Mona Salehi and her team for your civil marriage

Foreword

After having met and married several thousand couples, I decided to produce the most complete guide there is to civil marriage in Quebec. I have had the privilege of meeting and uniting couples since 2011.

The purpose of this guide is to answer all the questions that future spouses have about civil marriage in clear language.

The very first guide of its kind in Quebec, the first edition of our Guide to Civil Marriage in Quebec was published in March 2020. Our Complete Guide to Civil Marriage in Quebec is continuously updated and improved to better inform and guide future spouses.

Whether you choose Me Mona Salehi and her team to celebrate your marriage or have it celebrated by another celebrant, this guide will be very useful to you. Do not hesitate to send us your comments.

This guide also contains legal information that non-legal celebrants cannot give you.

Enjoy reading!

     

        Me Mona Salehi, Notary – 514 903-8560

1- The beginnings of civil marriage in Quebec

It has been more than 50 years that people have been able to get married civilly in Quebec. The first civil marriage in Quebec was celebrated on May 2, 1969. By civil marriage, we mean a non-religious marriage, celebrated by a public authority.

Its establishment was part of a process to revise the Civil Code of Québec, undertaken in the early 1960s and aimed at the legal emancipation of women.

At the time, the legal age for marriage was 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy, with parental consent. However, Quebec being a modern society, the youngest person to marry was a 16-year-old girl and the oldest was 85 years old. Fifty years later, 61% of marriages are celebrated civilly, either before a notary, a clerk or another designated person.

2- Civil marriage compared to religious marriage

Civil marriage and religious marriage have in common the fact that they produce the same effects and obligations to the spouses.

Both types of marriage take place in the same way. The civil celebrant (a clerk or an assistant clerk of the Superior Court of Québec, a notary, a mayor, a member of the municipal council or of the borough council, a municipal official, or a celebrant for a day) or the religious celebrant (a curate, a pastor, a priest, a bishop, an imam, a rabbi, a reverend or another minister of religion) will read articles 392 to 396 of the Civil Code of Québec in the presence of two witnesses.

Then, the future spouses will express their consent to the marriage by saying “Yes, I do”.

The spouses, the civil or religious celebrant and the two witnesses will then sign the declaration of marriage which will be immediately sent by post to the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec. A civil marriage may be celebrated in a courthouse, a town hall or any place that respects the solemn nature of the ceremony and that is set up for this purpose.

A religious marriage can be celebrated in a place of worship such as a church, temple, synagogue, mosque, etc. A civil celebrant will not be able to refuse to marry you if you respect the conditions for getting married in Québec.

A religious celebrant may refuse to marry you if your union goes against the principles of the religion (same-sex marriage, interfaith marriage, etc.)

3- Civil marriage compared to civil union

Just like civil marriage and religious marriage, civil marriage and civil union have the common point of producing the same effects and obligations for spouses and partners.

The minimum legal age required is 16 for marriage and 18 for civil union. Civil marriage and civil union are open to both same-sex and opposite-sex spouses. The period for publication of the marriage deed and marriage certificate are 21 days. However, a couple united civilly who wish to marry will be exempted from publishing the banns for their civil marriage.

The obligations are identical, namely:

  • Mutual respect
  • Loyalty
  • Succour and assistance
  • Living together

The spouses lead the family together, exercise parental authority over the children and provide for their care and sustenance.

Civil marriage is internationally recognized abroad (with rare exceptions), while civil union may not be recognized or may be assimilated to marriage. The legal effects are identical. Civil marriage and civil union have the legal effects of creating a family patrimony and a family residence and open the choice of a matrimonial regime.

Both types of union offer the possibility of making a contract, a marriage contract or a civil union contract.

A civil marriage can be dissolved either by a divorce pronounced by a judge – amicable divorce or divorce by opposition – or by the death of one of the spouses. A civil union can be dissolved by an agreement signed by the spouses before a notary. If there is no agreement, the court will pronounce the dissolution of the union. The civil union will also be dissolved by the death of one of the spouses.

 

4- The minimum age to marry civilly in Quebec

As stated in the Federal Marriage Act, no one may enter into marriage before reaching the age of sixteen (Marriage Act, 2015, c. 29, s. 4). However, to get married in Quebec, you must be 18 years old. If you are 16 or 17, you will need to ask the court for permission to get married.

5- Marriage of non-residents and foreigners

Marriage in Quebec and across Canada is governed, as to its basic conditions, by the Federal Civil Marriage Act. This law does not impose any condition of citizenship or residence to permit marriage.

The celebrant is not required to verify or inquire about the immigration or visa status of a non-resident of Canada or of foreign nationality.

It is also possible to begin the preliminary steps for marriage while one or both spouses are abroad, under certain conditions. We very often celebrate a marriage where one of the spouses is in South America, Europe, Africa or Asia or the Middle East at the beginning of the administrative process. However, it is not possible to celebrate a civil marriage remotely, as the spouses and their witnesses must be physically present.

6- Civil marriage for LGBTQ2S+ people

From 2003 to 2005, Canadian provincial and territorial courts legalized same-sex marriage in nine of Canada’s thirteen provinces and territories. They legalized same-sex marriage under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Same-sex spouses have been able to marry in Canada since July 20, 2005, when the Civil Marriage Act was assented to. Same-sex marriage has been legal throughout Canada since that date.

In Quebec, marriage has been open to LGBTQ2S+ people since March 19, 2004. It was on that date that it was authorized by the Quebec Court of Appeal. That year, 245 same-sex couples married in Quebec. In 2018, 714 same-sex couples married civilly in Quebec.

Me Salehi and his team welcome members of the LGBTQ2S+ community to celebrate their marriage or for any other legal process.

 

7- Information and documents to provide to get married

To get married, you will need to provide your celebrant with information that will allow them to complete the application for publication of a notice of civil marriage and various documents, which will be used to prove your identity, age and marital status.

Information to be provided to get married

  • Each of the future spouses must provide official documents containing the following information:
  • Surname and given name(s)
  • Full address
  • Telephone and email contact details
  • Sex
  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents’ surnames and first names
  • Date of the marriage and address of the place of celebration
  • Civil status

A person who will act as a witness for the request for publication of a civil marriage notice must provide official documents containing the following information:

  • Surname and given name(s)
  • Full address
  • Telephone and email contact details

Documents to provide to get married

Each of the future spouses must provide a birth certificate or declaration. Depending on your place of birth, the celebrant may require that the birth declaration or certificate be less than three or six months old. Indeed, in some countries such as France, entries of life events such as a PACS, marriage or widowhood are recorded in the birth certificate throughout the holder’s life.

For divorced persons, it is imperative to provide, before the marriage date, a certified true copy of the divorce certificate or a certified true copy of the irrevocable judgment of divorce.

For widowed persons, it is imperative to provide, before the marriage date, the death certificate or the copy of the death certificate of the deceased.

 

8- Change of name upon marriage

In Quebec, it has not been possible since 1981 for a woman to bear her husband’s name. The Civil Code of Quebec is very clear, each of the spouses keeps their name during the marriage and exercises their civil rights under this name as indicated in article 393.

For the record, it sometimes happens that when I meet future spouses for a legal consultation, they are surprised that the woman can no longer take the name of her future husband or wife upon marriage.

I am often given the example of Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. It is in fact a name of use which is used by the media, her official name being indeed Sophie Grégoire.

9- The act of publication of a civil marriage

The act of publication of a civil marriage must be posted online in the Registre des avis de mariage et d’union civile of the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec since January 1, 2018.

Previously, it simply had to be displayed in paper format at the place where the marriage was to be celebrated. It was also to be displayed at the courthouse closest to the place of celebration.

Publication of the banns has two objectives. First of all, it allows anyone to be informed of the upcoming marriage and they can oppose it by demonstrating any impediments such as a relationship prohibited by law or even if one of the future spouses is still married to another person. If no one comes forward and no objection is raised, the marriage can be celebrated.

Publishing the marriage banns for 20 days gives future spouses time to reflect on their decision to marry. This delay sometimes allows one of the spouses to realize that he or she does not wish to marry or to postpone the marriage to a more convenient time.

10- Witnesses required for a civil marriage

The witness for the act of publication of the marriage

For a civil marriage, you will need to present yourself at the first meeting with a witness who will sign, with you and the civil marriage celebrant, the marriage notice. This witness, who must be an adult, must know the two future spouses well and will attest to the veracity of the information contained in the act of publication such as the name, date and place of birth.

The two witnesses for the celebration of civil marriage

During the celebration of the civil marriage, the spouses must be accompanied by two witnesses (one for each of the spouses), who will have to attest to the consent to the marriage of the newlyweds and who will sign the declaration of marriage.

 

11- Quebec matrimonial regimes

In Quebec, there are different matrimonial regimes that are provided for by law.

The matrimonial regime of partnership of acquests

In a partnership of acquests, there are two categories of property: “own” property and “acquired” property. Own property is mainly that which each of the spouses or civil union partners possesses at the start of the regime and that which they receive, during the regime, by inheritance or gift. All property not declared as own by law is acquired.

Under the regime of partnership of acquests, each spouse or civil union partner retains the administration of their own property and their acquest property, subject however to obtaining the consent of the other to dispose free of charge, during their lifetime, of their acquired property.

Certain reservations also apply to family residences and furniture used for household use.

Moreover, when the regime is dissolved, each of the spouses or civil union partners may request the division of the acquests of the other according to the established rules.

The matrimonial regime of separation of property

In separation of property, there are only “own” assets. Each spouse or civil union partner administers their property alone and disposes of it as he or she sees fit, subject to the provisions concerning the family patrimony.

The separation of property regime has the advantage of ensuring the almost complete autonomy of spouses or civil union partners. However, at the time of dissolution, the regime of separation of property can be a source of inequity for the economically weaker marriage or civil union spouse. Spouses who have not fixed their matrimonial regime by contract before the celebration of the marriage are automatically granted the regime of partnership of acquests by the Civil Code of Québec.

The matrimonial regime of community of property

Although the community of property regime has not been the legal regime in Quebec since 1970 and is no longer favoured by most spouses, it is still possible to choose this type of regime by notarized contract and make the desired changes.

In addition, persons married without a marriage contract before 1970 continue to be subject to the provisions of the regime of community of property, unless they subsequently entered into a marriage contract.

 

12- The marriage contract

A marriage contract is a legal document that allows you to choose a matrimonial regime that is different from the legal regime. The legal regime is the regime that applies by default to couples who do not enter into a marriage contract. Since July 1, 1970, the legal regime has been partnership of acquests.

In other words, it is a contract or an agreement between the future spouses, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of each with regard to their marriage, and more particularly its financial effects. In Quebec, marriage contracts are only valid when they have been signed by notarial act en minute.

In addition, a marriage contract notice is registered in the Registre des droits personnels et réels mobiliers (RDPRM).

As a jurist specializing in family law, the notary will be able to give you clear explanations on the different matrimonial regimes and advise you appropriately with regard to your situation. The marriage contract can be made before the marriage, but it will not come into force until the date of celebration of the marriage.

If you do not have a marriage contract at the time of the celebration of your marriage, but today you feel the need for such a document, be aware that the law allows you to change your matrimonial regime during your marriage. A marriage contract can be changed at any time provided both parties agree.

 

13- The different types of civil marriage celebrants

If you are planning your wedding, you are certainly wondering who can perform civil marriages.

In Quebec, there are various people who are authorized to celebrate civil marriages under the Regulation respecting the solemnization of marriages and civil unions of the Quebec Civil Code.

The persons authorized to solemnize civil marriages in Quebec are:

  • notaries who can receive notarial deeds;
  • clerks and deputy clerks of the Superior Court of Quebec;
  • mayors;
  • members of municipal or borough councils;
  • municipal officers designated by the Minister of Justice;
  • any person authorized by the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec to solemnize a civil marriage or a civil union, such as a designated person.

14- The advantages of the notary celebrant

By choosing a notary celebrant to celebrate your marriage, you will benefit from personalized legal advice on matrimonial regimes and the legal consequences of marriage, which the other types of celebrants mentioned above cannot give you since they are not legal advisers.

If your situation requires it, the notary can draw up a marriage contract for you. The notary celebrant is also flexible as to the date of celebration. He or she does not celebrate marriages only on Saturdays, unlike the courthouse clerk.

The delays for the notary are also shorter. It sometimes takes 60 days before having your civil marriage solemnized at the courthouse, compared to 20 days after the first meeting with the officiating notary, following the publication of the act of publication of a marriage with the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec.

The place of celebration can be chosen with the notary celebrant: in their study, at your home, in a reception hall, etc.

Me Mona Salehi and her team provide you with two ceremonial rooms and an outdoor terrace exclusively dedicated to civil weddings and finely decorated in a 1900s building.

15- Finding a marriage celebrant notary

If you are looking for a notary to celebrate your civil marriage, there are different avenues available to you. You can do a search on search engines like Google, Bing or Qwant with the query “notary celebrant of civil marriage” + the name of your city.

You can also use the Find a notary service of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, which allows you to find a notary by city and by field of practice. In the case of a search for a notary celebrant of civil marriage, you must select Marriage and civil union celebration in the Family and couple section.

16- Why choose Me Mona Salehi and her team as marriage celebrants

To celebrate your civil marriage, it is important to choose an experienced person with a certain presence to unite you during a wedding ceremony worthy of the name.

Me Mona Salehi and her team celebrate several hundred civil marriages each year.

In addition to the legal advice and information they provide to couples, Me Salehi and her team make every effort to ensure that spouses and their loved ones have a magical time, as evidenced by the many reviews left on Google or Facebook.

Me Mona Salehi also graciously puts at your disposal two wedding ceremony rooms and a terrace in a century-old building in the heart of downtown Montreal.

17- Checking your celebrant’s license

Once your celebrant has been chosen, it is important to verify that he or she is indeed authorized by the Directeur de l’état civil du Québec to solemnize civil marriages and civil unions.

To check your celebrant’s permit, you can visit the online Register of Celebrants. By entering the first and last name of your celebrant and the date of the wedding, you will immediately see if the celebrant is authorized to perform a wedding.

You will note that the authorization is valid for the day of the search. You may therefore need to redo the search a few days before the ceremony to ensure the validity of your celebrant’s license.

Several times a year, we receive calls from people who have called on an unauthorized celebrant. It goes without saying that their marriage is then neither registered nor legal.

18 The price of a civil marriage celebrant

Generally speaking, prices for a civil wedding officiant vary between $0 and $1,200, depending on the day and location of the celebration and related services.

If the future spouses choose a designated celebrant (celebrant for a day) who is a family member or friend, the service of the marriage celebrant might therefore not be charged. However, it is important to be aware of the problems that could arise with a one-day celebrant.

A notary such as Me Mona Salehi will offer you a preparatory meeting and give you access to one of her ceremony rooms during your civil marriage.

19 – Authorized places of celebration of a civil marriage

To choose a place for your civil wedding, you must ensure that the place respects the solemn nature of the marriage ceremony, is set up for this purpose and that it corresponds to a place where your celebrant is authorized to marry you.

For example, a court clerk is authorized to marry you at the courthouse, in a hospital or in a detention centre or penitentiary.

A mayor or municipal councillor can only marry you in the town hall of their municipality or in any place on the territory of their municipality.

A notary or a relative chosen as celebrant can marry you in any place that respects the solemn nature of the marriage ceremony that you have agreed with them.

20- The conduct of a civil marriage ceremony

A civil wedding ceremony on average takes 15 to 30 minutes.

Me Mona Salehi notary will open your ceremony by welcoming the guests. She will then read articles 392 to 396 of the Civil Code of Québec to the future spouses in the presence of two witnesses.

These articles of the Civil Code present the duties and effects of marriage such as respect, fidelity, succour, assistance, the obligation to live together, the moral and material direction of the family, the responsibilities of marriage, etc.

Subsequently, the future spouses or their guests will be able to make one or more speeches. The future spouses will also exchange their vows and alliances if desired, their consents, and the marriage will be pronounced.

21- Civil marriage deed and certificate

At your marriage ceremony, the civil marriage notary celebrant (or any other authorized celebrant), gives you a copy of the Declaration of Marriage. The green copy of the Declaration of Marriage is temporary proof of your marriage.

As soon as your ceremony is over, the officiating notary immediately sends the Declaration of your marriage to the Directeur de l’état civil.

As soon as he receives it, the Directeur de l’état civil registers your marriage in the Québec register of civil status. This registration can take three to six weeks.

The marriage certificate, like the copy of the act of marriage, is used to prove the marriage. However, there are some differences between the two documents.

The marriage certificate contains the surnames, first names, mention of the sex of the spouses, the date and place of the marriage, the registration number, the document number (since March 29, 2005), the date of issue and, if applicable, statement entered in the deed since it was drawn up.

The copy of the marriage certificate reproduces in full the information appearing on the certificate, the document number (since March 29, 2005) and the date of issue. The copy of the marriage certificate also includes the date of birth of the spouses, the names of the parents of the spouses, the names of the witnesses and the name of the marriage celebrant.

Before ordering a certificate or a copy of a deed, find out about the type and format of document to present, whether for an immigration application or for administrative procedures.

As soon as your marriage is registered in the Québec civil status register, you will receive a letter at your home notifying you that your marriage certificate or act is available.

You will then need to order your marriage certificate or act online at http://www.etatcivil.gouv.qc.ca/fr/services.html or in person, by going to a regional Services Québec service point or at a service counter of the Directeur de l’état civil.

22- Planning your wedding in Quebec

To plan your wedding, many resources (blogs, books, magazines, websites of professionals in the wedding industry, wedding planners, wedding officiants, photographers, caterers, etc.) are available to you. Imagine, the query “Plan your wedding” in Google gives more than 18,400,000 results!

Blogs, books, magazines, websites of wedding industry professionals (wedding planners, wedding officiants, photographers, caterers, etc.) Finding advice and help planning your wedding has never been easier compared to brides and grooms of the 80s and 90s.

Here are some resources that will help you plan your wedding in Quebec.

Wedding Blogs

Wedding planning books

Wedding Magazines

23- Preparing for your civil marriage from abroad

Canada and especially the province of Quebec and Montreal are popular with foreigners when it comes to choosing a wedding destination. Every year since 2011, many couples living abroad have retained our services to celebrate their civil marriage in Montreal.

We then start the administrative formalities remotely and organize the civil marriage ceremony in our study.

Since 2011, we have had the honour of marrying couples from the UK, USA, France and the United Arab Emirates.

24- Celebrating your civil marriage during a pandemic (COVID-19)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, celebrating civil marriages has always been authorized by Quebec Public Health. However, at certain times, we have had to respect limitations on the number of people who could attend the wedding ceremonies.

Good practices, particularly in terms of hygiene, will certainly remain in use. We have also prepared a Guide to Marriage during Covid-19 in Quebec which summarizes the main changes and consequences of the pandemic on weddings, both organizationally and administratively.

In order to accommodate the bride and groom and their companions during the pandemic, we were the first notary’s office in Montreal to set up a heated and lighted terrace specially dedicated to civil weddings. It even earned us a report from Patrice Roy’s Téléjournal on Radio-Canada.

 
 

25- Terminating your marriage

There are two ways to end a marriage. By requesting its annulment or by divorce. Whether it is to annul a marriage or to ask for a divorce, each of these two ways of ending a marriage must meet very specific criteria.

After the celebration of a civil marriage, it sometimes happens that one of the spouses wants to annul their marriage. It is therefore important to differentiate between situations allowing the annulment of a civil marriage and situations requiring divorce.

A person can ask for the annulment of a civil marriage if one or more conditions for getting married have not been respected. The marriage will be annulled after obtaining a marriage annulment judgment by the Court.

Some of the various reasons for annulment of a marriage include:

  • the solemnization of the marriage was not public;
  • the marriage celebrant was not competent to solemnize a civil marriage;
  • a previous civil marriage or a previous civil union of one of the spouses is still valid;
  • the spouses had not reached the minimum age required to be united;
  • the spouses are related to a prohibited degree and regardless of whether the relationship is biological or adoptive;
  • parental or guardian permission had not been given in the case of a minor spouse;
  • one of the spouses did not consent to the marriage or gave consent under duress or as a result of error;

one of the spouses is an incapacitated person or suffers from an advanced degree of mental illness.

The annulment of the civil marriage by the Court retroactively erases all the effects of the marriage which has been celebrated. Annulment of a marriage or civil union can allow the former spouses to liquidate their matrimonial or civil union regime and share the family patrimony.

A procedure for the annulment of a marriage or a civil union can be undertaken with a legal advisor.

Contested divorce and amicable divorce can also be a solution to end the marriage when the conditions for a marriage annulment are not present. It is important to meet certain conditions for amicable divorce.

The spouses must in particular be separated for more than a year, without hope of reconciliation and the resumption of common life, agree on the settlement of the matrimonial regime and division of the family patrimony or the renunciation of the division.

It is important to consult a notary or a lawyer, as other conditions may apply. Me Salehi and his team can support couples wishing to divorce amicably.

The death of one of the spouses also ends the marriage.

26- Checklist to not forget anything in planning your civil marriage

Preparing the planning of your civil marriage requires a lot of preparation and work. With all these things to think about and the date of your wedding approaching, we thought that a checklist to help you plan your civil wedding ceremony would be useful for you.

  1. Choose your date of your civil marriage.
  2. Choose your civil marriage celebrant
  3. Prepare the identity documents and birth certificates of the spouses to open the marriage file.
  4. Prepare your divorce certificates if you are divorced.
  5. Prepare the death certificate of your former spouse if you are widowed.
  6. Choose the witness who will sign the marriage notice.
  7. Choose the two witnesses (one per spouse) who will sign the Declaration of Marriage on the day of your marriage celebration.
  8. Decide whether you want to draw up a marriage contract or not
  9. Choose the location for your marriage ceremony.
  10. Prepare your wedding party which will take place after the civil marriage ceremony (optional).
  11. Invite your guests.
  12. Choose your photographer and videographer if applicable (optional)
  13. Choose your wedding rings (optional).
  14. Let your guests know that they can prepare a speech for the ceremony (optional).
  15. Prepare your speeches (optional).
  16. Prepare words of thanks for your guests (optional).
  17. Bring a pen for the day of the ceremony.
  18. Bring tissues for the day of the ceremony.
  19. Bring a bottle of water for the day of the ceremony.
  20. Practice saying Yes, I do!

27- Contact Me Mona Salehi and her team for your civil marriage

Me Mona Salehi and her collaborating notaries are available to assist you in your civil marriage and many other legal services.

Our ceremonial rooms, our terrace and our administrative and customer service team are waiting for you and your companions to celebrate your civil wedding!

You can reach us :

By telephone at 514 903-8560

Through the forms on our website  www.MonaSalehiNotaire.com

By email at info@monasalehinotaire.com

Via our Google listing

Via our Facebook page

Via our Instagram account

Via our Twitter account