MARRIAGE Registration ORDINANCE

Arrangement of Sections

1. Short title.

2. Appointment of Registrar-General and his duties.

3. Appointment of Assistant Registrar-General and their duties.

4. District Registrars.

5. Establishment of registration divisions.

6. Appointment.

7. Power to make rules.

8. Residence, office, and station of Registrar.

9. Attendance of Registrar at his office.

10. Registration of place of worship for solemnisation of marriage.

11. Registration of such place if thinly populated district.

12. Cancellation or substitution of registration of building.

13. Rectification of errors.

14. Publication of lists of Registrars and registered buildings.

15. Prohibited age of marriage.

16. Prohibited degrees of relationship.

17. Marriage of persons within prohibited degrees of relationship an offence.

18. Second marriage without legal dissolution of first marriage invalid.

19. Dissolution of marriage.

20. Suits to compel marriage prohibited.

21. Repealed.

22. Who may give consent to marriage of a minor.

23. Preliminaries to be observed prior to a marriage.

24. Form of notice and declaration

25. Publication of notice.

26. Issue of certificate.

27. Issue of licence.

28. Issue of certificates and solemnisation of marriages upon alteration of divisions.

29. Forbidding of issue of certificate.

30. Caveat.

31. Proceedings on marriage being forbidden or caveat entered.

32. Facilities for marriages in Great Britain and Northern Ireland between British subjects resident in Great Britain and Northern Ireland and British subjects resident in Sri Lanka and vice versa.

33. Where may marriage be soleminised.

34. Solemnisation of Marriage by Minister.

35. Solemnisation of marriage by Registrar.

35A. Copy of registration entry to be issued free.

36. Addition of religious ceremony to marriage solemnised by Registrar.

37. Transmission to Registrar-General of duplicates of entries, substitution of original and duplicate entries and reconstruction of original and duplicate entries.

38. Solemnisation of marriage by Minister or Registrar under special licence.

39. New notice required after three months.

40. Death-bed marriages.

41. Entry made by Registrar in marriage register is the best evidence of marriage.

42. Proof of certain matters not necessary to the validity of registered marriage.

43. Mode of supplying omission and correcting error in registration.

44. Correction of errors in registers.

45. Penalty on making false declaration or giving false notice.

46. Circumstances in which a marriage will be null and void.

47. Solemnisation of marriage by means of a false document.

48. Settlements and agreements in regard to such marriage void.

49. Books to be kept by the General, District Registrar.

50. Forms.

51. Search of registers and issue of certified copies or extracts.

52. Third copy certified copy or extract to be evidence.

53. Surrender of Registrar ceasing to hold office.

54. Destruction of documents.

55. Penalty for no delivery.

56. Penalty for losing or injuring a document.

57. Penalty for destruction of documents and for giving false certificates.

58. Penalty for omission to register.

59. Offences by Minister.

60. Undue solemnisation of marriage and issue of certificate.

61. Notices, informations, declarations, certificates, how transmitted,

62. Fees payable.

63. Proceedings in courts to be exempt from stamp duty.

64. Interpretation.

SCHEDULES

19 of 1907,

27 of 1917,

8 of 1922,

18 of 1929,

27 of 1931,

15 of 1940,

49 of 1944,

20 of 1945,

34 of 1946,

47 of 1947,

41 of 1975,

22 of 1955,

11 of 1963,

3 of 1970,

18 of 1995,

12 of 1997,

11 of 2001,

36 of 2006,

38 of 2006,

22 of 2013.

Gazette Nos,

1386-18-2005.

AN ORDINANCE to consolidate and amend the law relating to Marriages other than the marriages of muslims and to provide for the better registration thereof.

[Date of Commencement: 1st January, 1908]

1. Short title.

This Ordinance may be cited as the Marriage Registration Ordinance.

2. Appointment of Registrar-General and his duties.

(1) There may be appointed a Registrar-General of Marriages for Sri Lanka.

(2) The Registrar-General shall, subject to the directions of the Minister, have the general control and superintendence of the registration of marriages under the provisions of this Ordinance, and of all persons appointed for or engaged in the carrying out of the provisions of this Ordinance.

3. Appointment of Assistant Registrar-General and their duties.

There may from time to time be appointed a fit and proper person or each of two or more such persons to be or to act as an Assistant Registrar-General of Marriages. Any person so appointed may exercise, perform or discharge any power, duty or function expressly conferred or imposed upon the Assistant Registrar-General, and may subject to the directions of the Minister and under the authority and control of the Registrar-General, exercise, perform or discharge any power, duty or function conferred or imposed upon the Registrar-General, by or under this Ordinance.

4. District Registrars.

(1) For each district there shall be a District Registrar of Marriages.

(2) The Government Agent of a district shall be the District Registrar for that district.

(3) Every Additional Government Agent, Assistant Government Agent, Additional Assistant Government Agent and Office Assistant to a Government Agent, of a district shall be an Additional District Registrar for that district.

(4) Every Assistant Registrar-General shall be an Additional District Registrar for the district of Colombo.

(5) There may be appointed any person as a District Registrar or as an Additional District Registrar in addition to, or in place of, any officer who is a District Registrar or an Additional District Registrar by virtue of the preceding provisions of this section.

(6) Every District Registrar shall have and may exercise within his district the powers and duties vested by or under this Ordinance in a Registrar of a division, and shall superintend and control, subject to the direction of the Registrar-General, the registration of marriages within the district, and the Registrars hereinafter mentioned, and all other persons appointed for or engaged in carrying out the provisions of this Ordinance.

5. Establishment of registration divisions.

(1) The Minister may, by Notification in the Gazette, divide the several districts of Sri Lanka into such and so many divisions for the purpose of the registration of marriages as shall appear expedient, and may at any time by a like Notification amend, alter or abolish any such division.

(2) Every division which has been lawfully established at the commencement of this Ordinance shall be deemed and taken to be a division under the provisions of this Ordinance until such time as a new division shall be constituted in lieu thereof under the provisions of this Ordinance.

(3) Every reference to any revenue district in any Notification made under subsection (1) of this section before the commencement of the Administrative Districts Act shall, after the commencement of that Act, be construed as a reference to the administrative district consisting of the area which constituted that revenue district.

6. Appointment.

(1) The Registrar-General may appoint one or more persons to each such division, who shall be called Registrars of Marriages, and any such Registrar at pleasure, he may remove and appoint some other person in his place, or in the place of any Registrar who shall have died or resigned office, or been granted leave of absence from his duties:

Provided that in case of the death, sudden illness, or incapacity of the Registrar of a division, or in case of other emergency, it shall be lawful for the Registrar-General or District Registrar, by writing under his hand, to appoint a person to act as Registrar for such division so however that no such appointment shall be made by a District Registrar for any period exceeding thirty days at any one time. Such acting appointment shall be forthwith entered under the hand of the officer making the appointment in a book to be kept for the purpose.

[S 6 re-numbered as s 6(1) by s 2(1) of Act 38 of 2006.]

(2) A person shall be disqualified from being appointed or continuing as a Registrar if he —

(a) becomes a Member of Parliament; or

(b) becomes a Member of a Provincial Council; or

(c) becomes a member of a Local Authority; or

(d) is holding any paid officer under the Republic; or

(e) is engaged in a profession that would prejudicially affect the duties of a Registrar.

[S 6(2) ins by s 2(2) of Act 38 of 2006.]

(3) Where any Registrar becomes disqualified from continuing as such by virtue of subsection (2), the Registrar-General shall have the power to remove such person from the post of Registrar with the approval of the Minister by Order published in the Gazette and such removal shall take effect on the date specified in such Order.

[S 6(3) ins by s 2(2) of Act 38 of 2006.]

(4) In the event of a vacancy occurring in the post of Registrar as a result of any resignation or any removal from office, any other person shall, having regard to the provisions of this section, be appointed to fill the vacancy.

[S 6(4) ins by s 2(2) of Act 38 of 2006.]

7. Power to make rules.

(1) The Minister may from time to time make rules for the direction of the Registrar-General, the District Registrars, Registrars, Ministers, and all persons whomsoever in the discharge of their duties under this Ordinance, for all matters required by this Ordinance to be prescribed, and generally for the effective carrying out of the provisions of this Ordinance.

(2) No rule made under this section shall have effect until it is approved by Parliament and notification of such approval is published in the Gazette.

8. Residence, office, and station of Registrar.

(1) Every Registrar shall dwell and have his office in such convenient place in his division as shall be appointed by the District Registrar, and shall, if so directed by the District Registrar, have within his division a station or stations as may be approved by the District Registrar, and every such station shall, for the purposes of the provisions of this Ordinance, with respect to the attendance of persons and the registration of marriages at the office of the Registrar, be deemed to be his office:

Provided that the District Registrar may, in the special circumstances of any case and with the prior approval of the Registrar-General, authorise a Registrar to dwell or to have his office or to have a station at a place outside his division.

(2) The District Registrar shall forthwith notify to the Registrar-General the places appointed by the District Registrar as the residence, office, and station or stations for every Registrar of his district.

9. Attendance of Registrar at his office.

The Registrar shall attend at his office and at each such station on such days and during such hours as shall respectively be appointed by the District Registrar, and shall cause his name, with the addition of the words—

"Registrar of Marriages” with the name of the division, for which he is Registrar, and the days and hours of his attendance as appointed by the District Registrar, to be placed in legible characters in the Sinhala, Tamil and English languages in a conspicuous place on or near the entrance of his office and station.

10. Registration of place of worship for solemnisation of marriage.

(1) The Minister, proprietor, or trustee of a building used as a place of public Christian worship may apply to the Registrar-General that such building may be registered for solemnising marriages therein.

(2) The application shall be in the form A in the First Schedule, and shall contain a declaration signed by at least twenty householders, and countersigned by the said Minister, proprietor, or trustee, that they frequent or intend to frequent such place of worship.

(3) The Registrar-General may register such place of worship for the solemnisation of marriages in a book to be kept by him for that purpose, and he shall thereupon give a certificate of such registry and of the date thereof under his hand, which certificate shall be in the form B in the First Schedule, and the Registrar- General shall give public notice of such registry by notification in the Gazette.

(4) No building shall be registered which is not used for public Christian worship.

(5) Any building already registered at the time when this Ordinance comes into operation shall be deemed to have been registered under the provisions of this Ordinance.

11. Registration of such place if thinly populated district.

Where the population in any district is so scattered that it is difficult to procure the signatures of twenty householders, it shall be lawful for the Registrar-General to issue his certificate upon a declaration signed by as many householders as live within convenient distance from the building, and countersigned by the Minister, proprietor, or trustee, and upon such other evidence as the Registrar-General may require to satisfy him that the building is used for public Christian worship.

12. Cancellation or substitution of registration of building.

(1) It any building registered for ten solemnisation of marriages shall at any subsequent period cease to be used for the public Christian worship of the congregation on whose behalf it was registered, the Minister, proprietor, or trustee for the time being of such building shall with all convenient speed notify the fact to the Registrar-General in form C in the First Schedule, and the Registrar-General shall cause the registry thereof to be cancelled.

(2) If it shall be proved to his satisfaction that the same congregation use some other such building for the purpose of public Christian worship, he may register such new place of worship instead of the disused building.

(3) Such cancellation or substitution when made shall be entered in the book kept for the registry of such buildings, and shall be certified and published in the manner prescribed in the case of the original registry of the disused building.

(4) After such cancellation or substitution as aforesaid it shall not be lawful to solemnise any marriage in such disused building, unless the same shall be again registered in the manner prescribed by section 10.

13. Rectification of errors.

The Registrar-General may at any time correct or cause to be corrected any error in any entry made in the book kept under section 10 for the registration of buildings.

14. Publication of lists of Registrars and registered buildings.

The Registrar-General may from time to time publish in the Gazette a list of the Registrars of Marriages in Sri Lanka, with their names, the names of their divisions, offices, and stations, and a list of the buildings registered for the solemnisation of marriages therein, and of which the registration has not been cancelled.

15. Prohibited age of marriage.

No marriage contracted after the coming into force of this section shall be valid unless both parties to the marriage have completed eighteen years of age.

[S 15 subs by s 2 of Act 18 of 1995.]

16. Prohibited degrees of relationship.

No marriage shall be valid—

(a) where either party shall be directly descended from the other; or

(b) where the female shall be sister of the male either by the full or the half-blood, or the daughter of his brother or of his sister by the full or the half-blood, or a descendant from either of them, or daughter of his wife by another father, or his son's or grandson's or father's or grandfather's widow; or

(c) where the male shall be brother of the female either by the full or the half-blood, or the son of her brother or sister by the full or the half-blood, or a descendant from, either of them, or the son of her husband by another mother, or her deceased daughter's or granddaughter's or mother's or grandmother's husband.

17. Marriage of persons within prohibited degrees of relationship an offence.

Any marriage or cohabitation between parties standing towards each other in any of the above-enumerated degrees of relationship shall be deemed to be an offence, and shall be punishable with imprisonment, simple or rigorous, for any period not exceeding one year.

18. Second marriage without legal dissolution of first marriage invalid.

No marriage shall be valid where either of the parties thereto shall have contracted a prior marriage which shall not have been legally dissolved or declared void.

19. Dissolution of marriage.

(1) No marriage shall be dissolved during the lifetime of the parties except by judgment of divorce a vinculo matrimonii pronounced in some competent court.

(2) Such judgment shall be founded either on the ground of adultery subsequent to marriage, or of malicious desertion, or of incurable impotence at the time of such marriage.

(3) Every court in Sri Lanka having matrimonial jurisdiction is hereby declared competent to dissolve a marriage on any such ground.

20. Suits to compel marriage prohibited.

(1) No suit or action shall lie in any court to compel the solemnisation of any marriage by reason of any promise or contract of marriage, or by reason of the seduction of any female, or by reason of any cause whatsoever.

(2) No such promise, or contract, or seduction shall vitiate any marriage duly solemnised and registered under this Ordinance.

(3) Nothing herein contained shall prevent any person aggrieved from suing for or recovering in any court damages which are lawfully recoverable for breach of promise of marriage, for seduction, or for any other cause:

21. .

[S 21 rep by Act 3 of 1970.]

22. Who may give consent to marriage of a minor.

(1) —

(a) The father of any person under eighteen who may years of age; or

[S 22(1)(a) am by s 2 of Act 12 of 1997.]

(b) if the father be dead or under legal incapacity, or in parts beyond Sri Lanka and unable to make known his will, the mother; or

(c) if both father and mother be dead or under legal incapacity, or in parts beyond Sri Lanka and unable to make known their will, the guardian or guardians appointed over the party so under age by the father, or if the father be dead or under legal incapacity, by the mother of such party or by a competent court, shall have authority to give consent to the marriage of such party, and such consent is hereby required for the said marriage:

Provided that no such consent shall be required in the case of a widow or widower or a person who shall have been previously married, and whose marriage shall have been legally dissolved.

(2) If there be no person authorised as aforesaid to give consent, or if the person so authorised unreasonably withholds or refuses his or her consent, the Judge of the District Court within whose jurisdiction the party so under age resides, may, upon the application of any party interested in such marriage, and after summary inquiry, give consent to the said marriage, and such consent is hereby required for the said marriage.

23. Preliminaries to be observed prior to a marriage.

In every case of marriage intended to be solemnised under the provisions of this Ordinance the following preliminaries shall be observed:

(1) If the parties to an intended marriage have been both resident in Sri Lanka for ten days, one of the parties shall give notice to a Registrar of the division in which they have dwelt for not less than ten days then next preceding or to the District Registrar in whose district they have so dwelt.

(2) If both parties have not dwelt in the same division for ten days then next preceding, but in different divisions, then each party shall give notice to a Registrar of the division in which he or she has dwelt for not less than ten days next preceding the giving of such notice or to the District Registrar in whose district he or she has so dwelt.

(3) If one of the parties to an intended marriage has not been resident in Sri Lanka for ten days next immediately preceding the giving of notice, notice shall be given by the other party who has been so resident to the Registrar in whose division or to the District Registrar in whose district he has been resident ten days next preceding the giving of such notice.

(4) If neither party has been resident for ten days in Sri Lanka, notice may be given to the Registrar in whose division or to the District Registrar in whose district one of the parties has been resident for not less than four days.

(5) The notice given by one party under subsections (3) or (4) shall be a sufficient notice of such intended marriage, and may be given in anticipation of the arrival of the other party from abroad.

24. Form of notice and declaration.

(1) Every such notice may be given to the Registrar at any place within his division, and shall be in the form D in the First Schedule, and shall state—

(a) the name in full, race, age, profession, civil condition, and dwelling place of each of the parties intending marriage, and

(b) if the case be so, that the other party is absent from Sri Lanka or has not resided for ten days in any part of Sri Lanka (as the case may be), and also

(c) the name in full and rank or profession of the father of each such party.

(2) Such notice shall also bear on its face or shall have attached thereto the written consent of any person whose consent is required by law.

(3) The party giving the notice shall make and sign or subscribe a declaration in writing in the body or at the foot of such notice—

(a) that he or she believes that there is no impediment of kindred or alliance or other lawful hindrance to the said marriage,

(b) that he or she has for the space of ten clear days or other prescribed period immediately preceding the giving of such notice dwelt within the division of the Registrar to whom such notice shall be so given, and

(c) that the consent of the person or persons whose consent is required by law has been given.

(4) Every such notice and declaration shall be so signed and subscribed in the presence of any one of the following persons, hereafter called an attesting officer, namely—

(a) the Registrar of the division, or

(b) a Justice of the Peace, or

(c) a notary, or

(d) a Minister,

and of two respectable witnesses.

The witnesses shall be personally acquainted with the party giving the notice and (in the event of the party not being known to the attesting officer) also with the attesting officer, and shall sign the notice. The full names, rank or profession, and place of abode of the witnesses shall be entered in the said notice.

(5) At the foot of the notice and declaration the attesting officer shall make a certificate substantially as in the final column of the form D in the First Schedule.

(6) Every notice to a Registrar of a Division or to a District Registrar as the case may be, under subsection (1), (2) or (3) of section 23 or every notice under subsection (4) thereof, shall be accompanied by a receipt issued by the Registrar of such Division or such District Registrar as the case may be, in proof of payment of a sum of rupees ten or a sum of rupees thirty respectively or such other amount as may be prescribed by the Minister from time to time.

[S 24(6) subs by s 2 of Act 22 of 2013.]

25. Publication of notice.

(1) Every Registrar to whom notice of an intended marriage is duly given as aforesaid shall forthwith enter in the notice the date of its receipt and shall file and keep it with the records of his office, and shall forthwith enter the particulars of the notice in a book to be called " The Marriage Notice Book ”, which shall be kept in the form E in the First Schedule, and which shall be open at all reasonable times without fee to the inspection of all persons claiming to be interested in any entry therein.

(2) The Registrar shall cause a true copy under his hand of the notice of marriage to be posted in some conspicuous place in his office during twelve successive days after the entry of such notice.

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Recent Updates

OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


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SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015


OFFICE ON MISSING PERSONS (ESTABLISHMENT, ADMINISTRATION AND DISCHARGE OF FUNCTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT, NO. 9 OF 2017


FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES(AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 11 OF 2017


NATION BUILDING TAX (AMENDMENT)ACT, No. 13 OF 2017


SUGATHADASA NATIONAL SPORTS COMPLEX AUTHORITY (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 14 OF 2017


IMMIGRANTS AND EMIGRANTS (AMENDMENT) ACT, No. 7 OF 2015