What You Should Know About the Legal Formalities Before, During, and After Your Marriage in Quebec  

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Whether you’re planning an all-out gala or a small, simple event, your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life. But amidst all the hustle and bustle of clothes shopping, catering arrangements, and invitation lists (or even if you’re just planning a very simple courthouse wedding), it’s important to set aside some time to evaluate the legal hoops through which you’ll need to jump in order to make your marriage in Quebec or civil union “official” under the law.

Without taking certain steps, you may run into legal snags or pitfalls when it comes to having your union recognized by the Quebec and federal governments.

Read on to learn more about the required legal formalities that must take place and forms that must be filed before, during, and after your marriage in Quebec.

 

Before Your Marriage or Civil Union

Having your marriage or civil union officially recognized by the Quebec government requires two things:

  • The publication of a notice of marriage or civil union, at least twenty days before the wedding, on the Directeur de L’état civil’s (DEC) website. This twenty-day timeline is a strict one, so missing it could mean having to push your wedding date back. Your officiant will be helping you out with this notice.
  • Finding an officiant, which can include a notary, a religious minister, or any other officiant authorized by the Quebec government, who can affirm that you and your future spouse are of legal age, not close relatives, and not already married or part of a legal civil union. Having a notary officiate your wedding or civil union provides the bonus of ensuring you receive solid advice on the rights (and responsibilities) that come with marriage.

 

During Your Marriage or Civil Union

The day you wed, you should have your officiant complete either the Declaration of Marriage form (for marriages) or the Declaration of Civil Union form (for civil unions). These forms can be found on the DEC’s website and are available (and can be completed) in both English and French.

When your ceremony has ended, you’ll need to sign this form (along with your spouse, the officiant, and two witnesses of your choice). Because these are the only two legal requirements of a Quebec marriage, this means you can get married in a long, religious ceremony or in a brief five-minute stop at the local courthouse.

 

After Your Marriage or Civil Union

If you’ve gotten married and signed a Declaration of Marriage, your officiant is required to send a copy of the first page of this declaration to the DEC within 30 days of the ceremony. And regardless of whether you’ve gotten married or entered a civil union, your officiant will need to file an original copy of the Return of Marriage or Return of Civil Union form to the Institut de la Statistique du Québec within eight days of the ceremony.

These deadlines are important, so be sure to maintain an open line of communication with your officiant to ensure these forms are filed in a timely manner.

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