The Marriage Celebrant Program
- Information to consider before becoming a marriage celebrant
- Qualifications necessary to be registered as a marriage celebrant – the requirements are changing
- New qualification and applying for registration on and after 3 February 2010
- The application process including the ‘Fit and Proper person’ criteria under the Marriage Act
- How to apply for registration as a marriage celebrant
- Restrictions on your conduct while you undertake training and your application is assessed
- Participants in a marriage ceremony
- The obligations of a registered marriage celebrant
The Marriage Celebrants Program (the Program) was established in 1973. It enables the appointment of suitably qualified people to perform marriages and provides couples with a meaningful alternative to Registry Office and religious weddings.
The completion of a training course has been a requirement for registration under the Australian Marriage Celebrants Program since 2003. The completion of the required training course is not sufficient on its own for registration. An applicant must also satisfy the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants that he or she is a fit and proper person to be registered as a marriage celebrant.
If you are interested in becoming registered as a marriage celebrant under the Program you should ensure you have read the information about the Program provided on this website before you undertake training. In particular, you should be aware that marriage celebrants have a complex set of responsibilities under the law and failure to meet these is a criminal offence in some cases. You should consider your willingness to accept these responsibilities before proceeding further. You need to understand that registration is not automatic.
Before you embark on the training to become a marriage celebrant, please consider the following information:
- In 2016, there were over 118000 marriages that took place in Australia, While there are nearly 9000 Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants and 23000 ministers of religion who can perform marriages, many marriage celebrants perform few or no marriages each year.
**NOTE – THE REQUIREMENTS ARE CHANGING
Since September 2003, people wishing to register as a marriage celebrant have been required to have successfully completed an approved, competency-based training course, delivered by a registered organisation accredited to deliver the training.
People who are fluent in an Australian indigenous language(s) may apply under a special provision. You should contact the Marriage Celebrants Section for more information if you wish to apply under this provision.
From 3 February 2010, a person who applies to be registered as a marriage celebrant will need to hold the Certificate IV in Celebrancy or an equivalent university qualification in order to meet the qualification requirement to be registered.
‘Your qualification will satisfy the qualification requirement for registration as a marriage celebrant. Please note that in addition to meeting the training requirements you will also need to be assessed as meeting the ‘fit and proper person’ requirements for registration.
Completion of the training does not automatically entitle you to registration as a marriage celebrant.
Finding a training provider
Training organisations accredited to offer the Certificate IV in Celebrancy can be found on the National Training Information Service (NTIS) website. To search for training providers, first search for the qualification code, ‘CHC41015’ , then search in ‘Registered Training Organisation (RTO).
Universities may also offer courses in celebrancy.
Your training provider (whether a registered training organisation or a university) must also meet additional requirements, which have been specified by the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants in a written determination. If you are considering enrolling in the Certificate IV in Celebrancy you should ensure that the training organisation complies with the following requirements:
Additional requirements for training providers concerning the four mandatory marriage celebrancy units.
The Registrar of Marriage Celebrants has made a determination in accordance with the amendments to the Marriage Regulations 1963, which commenced on 15 December 2009. In accordance with those regulations the Registrar has determined the following requirements for the delivery of the four mandatory marriage celebrancy units:
a) The person delivering the mandatory marriage celebrancy units must have the following attributes:
- have been registered for at least three (3) years as a marriage celebrant under subdivision C, Division 1 of Part IV of the Marriage Act (the Marriage Celebrants Program),
- not be subject to any disciplinary measures imposed by the Registrar under subsection 39I(2) of the Act for any period beginning on the day the unit is delivered and ending on the day the unit is completed,
- have complied with ongoing professional development obligations under section 39G of the Marriage Act,
- have been found satisfactory at their most recent performance review conducted under section 39H of the Marriage Act, and
- have conducted at least three (3) marriage ceremonies during the two (2) years prior to the date of commencement of the delivery of any of the mandatory marriage celebrancy units.
b) The following materials must be included – as a minimum – in the delivery of the four mandatory marriage celebrancy units:
- the Marriage Act 1961
- the Marriage Regulations 2017
- Guidelines on the Marriage Act 1961
- all forms stipulated in the Marriage Act 1961
The completion of the required training qualification is necessary to meet the legislative requirements for registration as a marriage celebrant. However, it is not sufficient on its’ own. In addition, a person seeking registration must satisfy the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants that they are a fit and proper person to be registered as a marriage celebrant.
Section 39C of the Marriage Act lists the matters the Registrar must take into account in making that decision. These matters are:
- do you have sufficient knowledge of the law relating to the solemnisation of marriages by marriage celebrants
- are you committed to advising couples of the availability of relationship support services and do you have sufficient knowledge of relationship support services to be able to do this
- are you of good standing in the community
- have you been convicted of an offence, punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer, against a law of the Commonwealth, States or Territories
- do you have an actual or potential conflict of interest between your practice, or proposed practice, as a marriage celebrant and your business interests or other interests such as employment, voluntary work or hobbies
- would your registration as a marriage celebrant be likely to result in you gaining a benefit in respect of another business you own, control or carry out
- will you fulfil your obligations as a marriage celebrant, and
- any other matter the Registrar considers relevant to whether you are a fit and proper person to be a marriage celebrant.
After completing Certificate IV in Celebrancy, you can contact the Marriage Celebrants Section by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application package.
You should carefully read all the information before filling in the form. You must comply with all instructions. If you do not, your application may be regarded as incomplete and returned to you. Until you submit a completed application you will not have made an application for registration and you will not be assessed.
A completed application is one that thoroughly addresses all the matters required to be addressed in the form.
Applications are processed strictly in order of receipt (as required under section 39D of the Marriage Act 1961).
It can take up to three months from the date a completed application is received for it to be assessed and the applicant notified of the result.
In order to assure the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants that you have sufficient knowledge of the law relating to the solemnisation of marriages, the application process will include a set of questions on legal matters relating to the solemnising of marriages. These questions will be provided to applicants by the Registrar.
The application pack will provide you with full details on how to obtain and complete these questions.
Completing your training and lodging your application for registration as a marriage celebrant does not make you a registered marriage celebrant. There are certain obligations under the Marriage Act 1961 that can only be undertaken by a registered marriage celebrant.
Unless and until you are registered as a marriage celebrant, you are not entitled to engage in advertising or promotion that suggests that you are able to conduct marriage ceremonies.
Persons, such as friends or relatives, who are not authorised as marriage celebrants may participate in aspects of a marriage ceremony as long as the couple and authorised marriage celebrant are in agreement about that participation. However it is the authorised celebrant who must conduct the legal component of the ceremony and who must fulfill all the legal requirements for solemnising a marriage.
An authorised marriage celebrant must:
- consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant
- take a public role in the ceremony
- identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage
- be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage according to law
- say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before whom the marriage is solemnised
- be in close proximity (i.e. nearby) when the vows required by subsection 45(2) are exchanged. It is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant should ensure that they see and hear them exchanged
- be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for intervention elsewhere in the ceremony
- be part of the ceremonial group, or in close proximity to it, and
- sign the papers required by the Act.
Registration is for life, subject to satisfying ongoing professional development and performance requirements. Marriages may be solemnised anywhere in Australia. Once registered a marriage celebrant will need to satisfy a range of obligations. These include:
- compliance with all the requirements of the Marriage Act 1961 in conducting marriages
- compliance with a Code of Practice covering such matters as maintaining a high standard of service and professional conduct, compliance with the Marriage Act 1961 and other laws, and a range of requirements for the conduct of marriage ceremonies
- undertaking professional development each year, and
- undergoing regular performance reviews to ensure continuing compliance with obligations.