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Marriage in Hong Kong: Wedding Rites

The wedding day is usually the most important day for millions of couples worldwide. It’s no different for expats who plan on getting married in Hong Kong. If you are familiar with the legal requirements, nothing prevents your marriage in Hong Kong from becoming a truly special time.
There are several options for celebrating your wedding in Hong Kong. In the end it’s up to you to make your day truly special.

After dealing with the administrative side, we’re getting to the more enjoyable part: planning the wedding ceremony and making sure your wedding day will be just as special as you deserve it to be. For your marriage in Hong Kong, you have three different options to choose from.

You can celebrate at a wedding registry, at a place of worship, or you can have a civil ceremony at a location of your choice. It is not necessary to have a registry wedding in addition to a church wedding or a civil ceremony. For a valid marriage in Hong Kong, you need two witnesses who are at least 18 years old. If either you or your partner does not understand English or Chinese, make sure to engage the services of an interpreter.

Registry Ceremonies

If you decide to go with a wedding ceremony at the registry, arrange the time and date when you are filing your notice of marriage. On public holidays are popular wedding days and you might not be able to getting an appointment to get married at the City Hall on those days. Usually, wedding ceremonies can still be arranged at several other registry offices, especially in the outskirts of the city. Depending on the day you prefer for your marriage in Hong Kong, your wedding certificate costs you an additional HKD 715 to HKD 1,935. (Weekends are the more expensive option.)

Religious Ceremonies

A wedding ceremony at a place of worship has to be administered by a minister. He or she will also hand you the marriage certificate afterwards. Your marriage in Hong Kong will only be officially valid if the place of worship is licensed by the government to conduct a wedding ceremony.

There are almost 260 licensed places of worship which cover all sorts of different faiths and denominations. You should not have a problem finding one that suits your personal beliefs. To arrange a time and date for your marriage in Hong Kong, please contact the institution of your choice directly.

Secular Ceremonies

If you would like to have a secular wedding that is a bit more special than a regular registry ceremony, there is a third option to arrange your marriage in Hong Kong. So-called “civil celebrants for marriage” are persons officially authorized to conduct legal wedding ceremonies. They will organize your own personal wedding at the location of your choice.

Popular places for such a marriage in Hong Kong include hotels, restaurants, and even boats or yacht clubs. Talk to the civil celebrant of your choice regarding their fees.  You can find detailed information on what to consider before engaging a civil celebrant in this official leaflet. Online, you can also download an up-to-date list of licensed civil celebrants.

Legal Consequences

First and foremost, if you become the spouse of a permanent resident, the marriage in Hong Kong does not automatically impact your Hong Kong visa or residence status. You will not automatically be granted the right of permanent residency but you can apply for residence as a so-called dependent. If you can credibly prove that your marriage is genuine and your spouse is able to financially support you, your chances are high that you’ll get a dependent visa following your marriage in Hong Kong. This allows you to live and work in the city.

Tax allowances and benefits for married couples are a definite bonus. Other benefits cover inheritance issues as well as protection from domestic abuse. For further details on legal issues affected by your marriage in Hong Kong, please contact your consulate or a lawyer.

There are no legal provisions concerning name changes. If you do decide to take your partner’s name after the wedding, remember to apply for a new Hong Kong ID card at the Immigration Department. Don’t forget to have your name changed in your passport and other official documents, too!

Same-Sex Marriage

Even though homosexuality was officially decriminalized in 1991, same-sex marriages and civil unions remain illegal in Hong Kong. Several people have attempted to seek recognition of same-sex marriages conducted in other countries by Hong Kong authorities. So far, these attempts have not been successful.

Tax allowances and other benefits are granted to heterosexual couples only. As of January 2010, one exception is domestic violence legislation, which now includes same-sex couples in its provisions. You can find more information on LGBT rights in our article on discrimination in Hong Kong.


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