- The COVID-19 (Temporary Measures for Solemnization and Registration of Marriages) Bill will be tabled in Parliament on 4 May 2020 to allow civil and Muslim marriage solemnizations and registrations to be conducted using video link. For civil marriages, couples will also have 12 months to get married after filing a notice of marriage, instead of the current three months.
- Currently, the Women’s Charter and the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) require marriage processes to be done in person. Couples have to verify their documents and make statutory declarations in the physical presence of a Commissioner for Oaths. Marriage solemnizations must also be conducted in person, in the presence of the Registrar/Licensed Solemnizer (for civil marriages) or the Kadi/Naib Kadi and the wali (for Muslim marriages), as well as the witnesses (for both civil and Muslim marriages). To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmissions, marriage solemnizations for civil and Muslim marriages had to be postponed during the circuit breaker period.
Solemnization, verification of documents and statutory declarations
- With the Act, couples where at least one party is a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident will be able to verify documents, make statutory declarations and have their marriages solemnized via a video link. Couples with foreign-issued documents will, however, need to verify their documents and make statutory declarations physically. We will gradually extend this video link option to more couples over time.
- All parties involved in video link solemnizations must be physically present in Singapore, in accordance with the Women’s Charter and AMLA. All solemnizations conducted in this manner will bear the same validity as in-person solemnizations. The Office of the Mufti also confirmed that marriages conducted through video link are equally valid under Islamic law, so long as all the conditions for a nikah (marriage contract) are satisfied.1
- To ensure that necessary safeguards are in place under the new law, the Registrars of Marriages and Muslim Marriages will have the discretion to decide which
couples may use the video link process to verify documents and make statutory declarations.2
Extended validity of marriage licence for civil marriages
- Under the Women’s Charter, parties must be married within three months from the date they file their notice of marriage. The new law will allow couples to get married within 12 months of filing the notice of marriage. This applies to notices filed no earlier than three months prior to the commencement date of the Act and which remain valid when the Act is in force.
- We aim to commence the Act and start implementation in the 2nd half of May 2020.
MINISTRY OF SOCIAL AND FAMILY DEVELOPMENT (MSF)
AND MINISTRY OF CULTURE, COMMUNITY AND YOUTH (MCCY)
1 The Office of the Mufti has issued an Irsyad, which can be found at: https://www.muis.gov.sg/officeofthemufti/Irsyad.
2 Statutory declarations have to be done by the couple in the presence of a Commissioner for Oaths and include declaring that they are not below 21 years of age, that there is no lawful impediment to the marriage, and their marital status.