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Court Marriage Procedure in India Online (Step-By-Step)

The Court Marriage procedure in India is relatively simple. In this blog, we talk about how to do a court marriage in India in 6 Easy Steps with all the legal formalities required for a court marriage, required documents & witnesses, the process for marrying a foreign national in India, the process of an Indian getting married outside India, issue pertaining to a court marriage, advantage of a court marriage and a lot more.
Written by:
Antim Amlan
Published on

What is Court Marriage?

Court Marriages in India are different than the traditional marriages as they take place in court in the presence of a marriage officer without following the traditions in a customary marriage. Court Marriage is the solemnization of marriage between a male and a female who are eligible to marry without any bar to their caste, religion, or creed in front of a court, a marriage officer and in the presence of three witnesses. You don’t need a customary celebration to solemnize your wedding in case of Court Marriage in India.

In India, court marriage, as defined under the Special Marriage Act of 1954, offers a streamlined and legally binding avenue for couples seeking to formalize their union. This form of marriage transcends caste, creed, or religious barriers and is solemnized under the supervision of a designated marriage officer, typically a Sub-Registrar empowered by the Act.

The only condition is, it should satisfy the essentials of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. It is not necessary for Court Marriage that both parties be of Indian nationality. Court Marriage can be done by an Indian national with a foreign national. Persons of two different gender either belonging to the same or different religion can marry each other through Court Marriage.

Court Marriage is in accordance with the provisions of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 which provides for:

  • The Court Marriage age
  • The prerequisite condition of Court Marriage
  • Documents required for a Court Marriage
  • Court Marriage fees and the entire Court Marriage process

The Special Marriage Act, 1954 provides for the rules and documents required under the process of Court Marriage.

Table of Content:

  • What is Court Marriage?

  • Pre-requisites of a Court Marriage

  • Conditions for Court Marriage

  • Documents required for a Court Marriage

  • Who can be a witness to the Court Marriage? 

  • Documents of the witnesses required for Court Marriage

  • Procedure for Court Marriage

  • Fees involved in Court Marriage

  • Total time is taken for the entire Court Marriage procedure

  • What is the procedure of Court Marriage in India?

  • Do I need to apply for a marriage certificate after the conclusion of the Court Marriage?

  • Exceptions and other Conditions in the Procedure for Court Marriage

  • Uniformity of Court Marriage Process in India

  • Issues pertaining to Court Marriage

Pre-requisites of a Court Marriage

Court Marriage rules and regulations provide for the conditions which one needs to fulfill before going ahead with the Court Marriage process. These Court Marriage rules are given under Section 4 of the Special Marriage Act as well. The parties have to meet the essential conditions prescribed in the act before mutually entering or signing the Civil Marriage Contract. The conditions are as follows:

  • No pre-existing marriage: There should be no pre-existing marriage for either the male or female unless the previous spouse is not living or divorce has been obtained from the previous spouse.
  • Valid Consent: The parties must have given free consent for Court Marriage i.e., none of the parties intending to do Court Marriage should be incompetent of giving valid consent due to unsound mind or any other factor.
  • Age: The parties must be eligible to marry i.e., they should be of Court Marriage age. The Court Marriage age for a boy is 21 years and the Court Marriage age for a girl is 18 years.
  • Prohibited degrees of relationships: The parties to the marriage should not be related to each other under the prohibited degrees of marriage as provided in Schedule I of the Act. Unless it's valid in the customs or traditions of the religion of any of the two parties. 

However, when a custom governing at least one of the parties permits the marriage between the parties then such a marriage may be solemnized irrespective of the relationship falling within the degrees of prohibited relationships.

[The prohibited degrees of relationships are mentioned at the end of the article]

Conditions for Court Marriage

To proceed with a court marriage, specific prerequisites must be met, including:

  • Absence of Prior Spouse: Neither party should have a living spouse at marriage.
  • Capacity to Consent: For a marriage to be legally valid, both parties must have the mental capacity to consent without cognitive impairments.
  • Age Criteria: The minimum age for the groom is 21, and for the bride, it is 18.
  • Prohibited Relationships: The couple should not be within the prohibited degrees of relationship stipulated by law.

Documents required for a Court Marriage

You need certain documents for completing the legal marriage process in court. Without these documents, the solemnization of the marriage process in India is not possible.

One requires the following documents from both the prospective bride and groom for the procedure of Court Marriage.


  • Affidavits: Separate affidavits from the bride and groom affirming personal details, marital status, and absence of prohibited relationships.
  • Photographs: Passport-size photographs of the bride and groom.
  • Residential Proof: Documents validating the residential address of both parties.
  • Proof of Age: Documentation verifying the date of birth of the bride and groom.
  • Marriage Notice: A copy of the notice of intended marriage signed by both parties.
  • Divorce/Death Certificates: In divorce or widowhood cases, relevant documents substantiate the termination of previous marriages.

Who can be a witness to the Court Marriage?

Any person such as a family member, a family friend, a colleague or a friend can be a witness to a Court Marriage. Also, there must be three witnesses for the solemnization of valid Court Marriage.

Documents of the witnesses required for Court Marriage Following documents are required for Court Marriage from the witness:

  • Residential proof of the witness is the most important document which has to be furnished before the Marriage Officer.
  • PAN Card of the witness must also be presented before the Marriage Officer.
  • One passport size photograph each from the three witnesses to the marriage.
  • An identification document of the witnesses such as Driving Licence, Aadhar Card, etc.

Procedure for Court Marriage

The process of court marriage unfolds through the following sequential steps:

  • Notice Submission: The parties submit the notice of intended marriage to the designated marriage officer at least 30 days before the proposed marriage date.
  • Notice Publication: The marriage officer affixes the notice in a conspicuous location within the office premises for public scrutiny.
  • Objection Period: Any objections to the proposed marriage must be raised within 30 days of notice publication, grounded on legal rather than personal grounds.
  • Resolution of Objections: The marriage officer investigates objections and proceeds with marriage solemnization if no valid objections are sustained.
  • Declaration and Witnesses: Upon resolution of objections, the parties, along with three witnesses, submit a formal declaration as per the prescribed format in the presence of the marriage officer.
  • Marriage Venue: The marriage can be solemnized at the marriage officer's office or any alternate venue mutually agreed upon by the parties, subject to additional fees if applicable.
  • Issuance of Marriage Certificate: Following solemnization, the marriage officer issues a marriage certificate as conclusive evidence of the marital union.

Fees involved in Court Marriage

Court Marriage fees are different in different states. Generally, Court Marriage procedure fees are between Rs 500 to Rs 1000. But it is always advisable to check the fees while filling in the online application for Court Marriage as It may also go beyond the cap because every state frames its own rules and regulations and prescribe its fee structure for the solemnization of Court Marriage.

One needs to attach the Court Marriage documents along with fees for completing the Court Marriage registration form. 

"Under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, any parties of all the religions belonging to any caste, creed, color or sex who want to get married without being involved in any customary tradition can do Court Marriage. It is an effective and very affordable process of marriage,” says Advocate Ankit Sharma.

Total time taken for the entire Court Marriage procedure

Usually, the entire process of solemnization of a Court Marriage requires 30 - 60 days. Post-publication of the notice of intention, a time period of 30 days is given, for any objection to being raised against the marriage, if any, by the Marriage Officer and if any objection is raised within that period, an inquiry period of 30 days is allotted for the Marriage Officer.

Note: If a marriage is not solemnized within 3 months from the date of the notice, then a fresh notice has to be given to the Marriage Officer for fresh conduct.

Exceptions and other Conditions in the Procedure for Court Marriage

The eligibility criteria for Court Marriage has certain exceptions. However, the marriage is prohibited between the prohibited degrees of relationship but the marriage can be solemnized between the prohibited degree of a relationship if your custom allows the same.

  • Even if in the custom of one party to the marriage is allowed to marry in the prohibited relation, then also this exception will be applicable
  • If the marriage has to be done in the state of Jammu & Kashmir then it is mandatory that both the parties to the marriage must be Indian citizens. It simply means that there is no procedure to get married in court with foreign nationals in the state of Jammu & Kashmir
  • For a foreign national to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 they have to live in India for at least 30 days. They must have a residence proof as well
  • In case they do not have Indian residence proof, they can get the same from the local police station in whose jurisdiction they are living

Uniformity of Court Marriage Process in India

Special Marriage Act is a secular act which is applicable to the persons of all religions uniformly. Thus, the procedure of Court Marriage is uniform for all persons with no bar to any religion. Every law updates itself from time to time, and till now, one can see constant updates in various acts and sections of the Indian law. 

Advantages of Court Marriage

Court marriage offers several distinct advantages, including:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: The streamlined procedure minimizes expenses associated with traditional wedding ceremonies and rituals.

  • Flexibility: Couples can customize the marriage ceremony according to their preferences.

  • Legal Validity: A court marriage, solemnized under the purview of the Special Marriage Act, holds legal sanctity, ensuring the rights and obligations of both parties.

  • Consent Assurance: The marriage officer oversees the marriage, ensuring that both parties enter the union willingly and without coercion.


Issues pertaining to Court Marriage

One thing which is feasible about the Indian Court Marriage procedure is that the process of the court is a relatively simple one in comparison to the customary marriages, which start from filling an online application for Court Marriage till the registration of Court Marriage.

Despite it being the simple and easy way of marrying your loved one, there are certain complexities in a Court Marriage. The few complications which are involved in a Court Marriage procedure are as follows:

  • Dates for Court Marriage are dependent upon the marriage registrar as to what date will he allot for appointment to come in person for solemnization of Court Marriage of the intended parties.
  • Even if there is an emergency for an early date, allotting an early date isn't possible. As one has to give the date 30 days before from the date of publication of the notice. This is to see if anyone raises objections or not.
  • Any person can prevent a Court Marriage from being solemnized for a long period by raising an objection against a Court Marriage within a stipulated time period and then the decision depends on the determination of the Marriage Officer and his findings on the matter. 
  • If there is an objection, then it can delay the process for Court Marriage till the marriage officer decides on this objection.
  • If in case the process of applying for Court Marriage is online, one has to appear before the marriage registrar for solemnization of marriage. Also, online portals don't work in every part of the country.
  • One requires to give the notice of marriage to the office of the marriage registrar in whose jurisdiction the parties to the marriage have been residing for a minimum of 30 days. It is such that you can't go anywhere else for completing the marriage process in India.
  • The documents required, the fees to be paid and the persons appointed as Marriage Officers differ from place to place. It is generally as per the rules framed by the respective States.
  • If the solemnization of marriage doesn't take place within 3 months from the date of the notice of marriage, then you have to give a fresh notice to the marriage officer for solemnizing the procedure of marriage.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to apply for a marriage certificate after the conclusion of the Court Marriage?

Generally, a marriage registration certificate is an official document stating that two people are married. In India, Marriages can be registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. For both types of marriages, a marriage registration certificate is necessary for a couple who got married. The Apex Court has also made it compulsory to register marriage for preserving women’s rights. Hence, gaining a marriage registration certificate after marriage can have many benefits.

But since a Court Marriage is solemnized in front of the Marriage Officer, the complete solemnization takes place when the marriage certificate is entered and granted by the Marriage Registrar.

What is the Court Marriage process under the Special Marriage Act?

The Special Marriage Act, 1954 lays down the concept of the Hindu Court Marriage procedure in India as well. This allows people to complete the civil marriage procedure as follows:

STEP 1: Submit the notice/application to the Sub Registrar or Marriage Officer

STEP 2: The notice shall be published in the prescribed offices for 30 days

STEP 3: Registration will be issued only if no objection is received from any person

  • In case of objection, an inquiry will be conducted and only after the conclusion, a registration certificate will be issued.
  • The laws relating to marriage are laid down under the personal laws of the religion to which a person belongs.
  • However, there is an option of Court Marriage for the people who don't wish to get married in accordance with the religious rites or who belong to different religions or if one of them is a foreign national.

What is the Court Marriage process in India as a Foreign National?

Before proceeding with this type of Court Marriage in India, the whole process includes firstly, to ensure eligibility of the persons getting married. Then. you should have all the requisite documents in place before filing the Court Marriage application with the Registrar. 

To solemnize procedures for Court Marriage between a foreign national and an Indian citizen under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, one needs to keep the following points in mind:

  • The laws of the nation to which the foreign national belongs, must not be in conflict with the Indian Laws
  • In order for the foreign national to do Court Marriage in India, he/she must have a valid passport and visa
  • N.O.C or Marital status certificate from the concerned Embassy or Consulate

A civil lawyer in India can help with the legal proceedings of such a Court Marriage in India.

What is the procedure of marriage between an Indian and a foreigner outside India?

The marriage between an Indian and a foreigner in a foreign country is mentioned in the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 and is inferred as a Civil Marriage. The process of a Court Marriage is absolutely the same as mentioned under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 but a No Impediment Certificate/NOC from concerned the Embassy and valid VISA is also required along with the other documents.

What are the advantages of a Court Marriage?

There can be many advantages in the case of Court Marriage. The advantages are:

  • It is an easier process and involves lower costs as compared to traditional marriages.
  • The parties to a Court Marriage get the option of solemnizing the marriage in any way of their choice. For instance, two Hindus can solemnize their marriage through a Sikh Style wedding if they choose to.
  • The married couple doesn’t have to reapply to the marriage officer for registration of the marriage. Registration of Court Marriage is itself a part of the process of Court Marriage.
  • The marriage certificate received at the conclusion of the Court Marriage is deemed to be conclusive proof of the marriage between the parties and there is no necessity to prove it otherwise by any other evidence.

“Any marriage is done with the accordance of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 provisions is a legally valid marriage and is given a marriage registration certificate which can be presented as legal evidence before the court,” says Advocate Ankit Sharma.

Who is a Marriage Officer? Where does the Court Marriage take place? 

A Marriage Officer is a judicial officer who officiates a Court Marriage, having all the powers of a civil court. Any proceeding held before a marriage officer would be considered as a judicial proceeding.

The Court Marriage has to take place at the office of a marriage officer or at such other place within a reasonable distance. Section 12 of the Special Marriage Act, 1954 entails the provision regarding the place of marriage.

Degree of prohibited relationship: Part-I

  1. Mother
  2. Father’s widow (step-mother)
  3. Mother’s mother
  4. Mother’s father’s widow (step-grandmother)
  5. Mother’s mother’s mother
  6. Mother’s mother’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
  7. Mother’s father’s mother
  8. Mother’s father’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
  9. Father’s mother
  10. Father’s father’s widow (step-grandmother)
  11. Father’s mother’s mother
  12. Father’s mother’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
  13. Father’s father’s mother
  14. Father’s father’s father’s widow (step-great-grandmother)
  15. Daughter
  16. Son’s widow
  17. Daughter’s daughter
  18. Daughter’s son’s widow
  19. Son’s daughter
  20. Son’s son’s widow
  21. Daughter’s daughter’s daughter
  22. Daughter’s daughter’s son’s widow
  23. Daughter’s son’s daughter
  24. Daughter’s son’s son’s widow
  25. Son’s daughter’s daughter
  26. Son’s daughter’s son’s widow
  27. Son’s son’s daughter
  28. Son’s son’s son’s widow
  29. Sister
  30. Sister’s daughter
  31. Brother’s daughter
  32. Mother’s sister
  33. Father’s sister
  34. Father’s brother’s daughter
  35. Father’s sister’s daughter
  36. Mother’s sister's daughter
  37. Mother’s brother’s daughter

Degree of prohibited relationship: Part-II

  1. Father

  2. Mother’s husband (step-father)

  3. Father’s father

  4. Father’s mother’s husband (step-grandmother)

  5. Father’s father’s father

  6. Father’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)

  7. Father’s mother’s father

  8. Father’s mother’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)

  9. Mother’s father

  10. Mother’s mother’s husband (step-grandfather)

  11. Mother’s father’s father

  12. Mother’s father’s mother’s husband (step-great-grandfather)

  13. Mother’s mother’s father

  14. Mother’s mother’s mother’s husband(step-great-grandfather)

  15. Son

  16. Daughter’s husband

  17. Son’s son

  18. Son’s daughter’s husband

  19. Daughter’s son

  20. Daughter’s daughter’s husband

  21. Son’s son’s son

  22. Son’s son’s daughter’s husband

  23. Son’s daughter’s son

  24. Son’s daughter’s daughter’s husband

  25. Daughter’s son’s son

  26. Daughter’s son’s daughter’s husband

  27. Daughter’s daughter’s son

  28. Daughter’s daughter’s daughter’s husband

  29. Brother

  30. Brother’s son

  31. Sister’s son

  32. Mother’s brother

  33. Father’s brother

  34. Father’s brother’s son

  35. Father’s sister’s son

  36. Mother’s sister’s son

  37. Mother’s brother’s son