Need a BC marriage licence for your legal wedding in British Columbia but confused about the process? Wondering how to get one, where and when?

We’ve got you covered! As wedding officiants in BC since 2010, we’ve married thousands of couples and signed thousands of marriage licences. We know the process can be confusing, so we’re more than happy to help walk you through it.

Below we’re diving into the most frequently asked questions our couples have about getting their marriage licence and ensuring their BC marriage certificate is correct. Read on to learn more!

signing marriage licence at vancouver wedding with young hip and married
by Sambajoy

What are the BC marriage requirements?

In order to be legally married in BC you need:

  • Two partners who are willing and able to marry one another
  • A licensed wedding officiant or commissioner to perform the ceremony
  • Two witnesses
  • A BC marriage licence which will be signed by the couple, officiant and witnesses following the ceremony

Is a BC marriage licence the same as a BC marriage certificate?

No, these are two different documents. A BC marriage licence is the document you obtain before your wedding and sign at your ceremony. A BC marriage certificate is the document you receive in the mail after your wedding to show that your marriage was registered and that you are legally married.

Do we need a marriage licence to get married in BC?

Yes. If you want to get legally married in BC, you need to obtain a marriage licence and sign it with your witnesses and licensed officiant at your wedding ceremony. If you are getting married in BC, you need to obtain a marriage licence in British Columbia (you can’t obtain it in another province).

Who can apply for a BC marriage licence? 

Only the couple getting married can apply for and receive their marriage licence in British Columbia. This is not a task that your wedding planner, wedding officiant, friend or family member can do for you.

In BC, only one member of the couple needs to be present to apply for and receive the licence, but they must have ID for both parties. In some other provinces, both members of the couple must be present.

signing bc marriage licence and vancouver wedding
by John Bello Photography

What documents do we need to get married in British Columbia?

In order to apply for a BC marriage licence you must have primary ID for both members of the couple. Primary ID includes:

  • Birth certificates
  • IMM/immigration forms
  • Permanent resident cards
  • Citizenship cards

Driver’s licences and passports may be accepted at the issuer’s discretion.

You will also need to have the following information for both parties in order to complete your license

  • Full legal names
  • Birth dates
  • Place(s) of birth
  • Address

Where do we get a BC marriage licence? 

You must apply for and buy your BC marriage licence in person at any Marriage License Issuer in BC. You can buy a marriage licence anywhere in the province; you don’t have to buy your licence in the same city that your wedding is taking place.

To find an issuing location near you, visit and click on “Search for a Marriage Licence Issuer.”

Conveniently, many London Drugs locations sell BC marriage licences. To find a London Drugs near you that issues marriage licences, visit

Can we get a BC marriage licence online? 

No, you cannot get a BC marriage licence online. You must go in person to get your licence.

How long does it take to get a marriage licence in BC?

Marriage licences in British Columbia are received immediately. You apply in person where an issuer will check your ID and verify your details. You will then pay the fee and leave with your marriage licence in hand.

If there’s no line, the whole process will only take a few minutes!

bride signing bc marriage licence
by The Macleans
groom signing bc marriage licence
by The Macleans

How fast can you get married in BC?

There is no waiting period in BC – as soon as you have your marriage licence, you can get married. To get married, you will also need someone who can legally marry you (like a wedding officiant!) and two witnesses to attend your ceremony and sign the paperwork.

At Young Hip & Married, we’ve had couples reach out to us on a Friday to get married that same weekend. So a wedding ceremony can come together quickly! Of course, we appreciate a little bit more notice to process your booking and get you matched with an officiant. But if you’re in a rush to tie the knot, don’t hesitate to reach out.

How much is a marriage licence in BC? 

Currently, a BC marriage licence costs $100 and is non-refundable. If you lose your licence, you may return to the issuing location and ask for a replacement.

How do we contact someone about our BC marriage licence?

If you have questions about your BC marriage licence, you can contact the BC Government Vital Statistics Agency by phone, inquiry form or mail.

By phone:

  • Victoria: 250 952-2681
  • Toll-Free within BC: 1 888 876-1633

By inquiry form:

By mail:

Vital Statistics Agency
PO Box 9657 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 9P3

How long is a marriage licence valid for in BC?

A British Columbia marriage licence is valid for three months from the date of issue (the day you apply and receive your licence). So you could pick up your licence from three months in advance all the way up to the morning of your ceremony.

When to get a marriage licence in BC

You can pick up your licence anytime within the three months before your wedding. But we suggest picking up your BC marriage licence 4-6 weeks before your wedding date. That way, you have enough time to fix any mistakes but not so much time that things get lost.

We don’t recommend picking up your licence right at the beginning of the 90 day validity period. Just in case something happens, like your wedding gets delayed or you forget to bring your licence and have to sign it at another time, you want to give yourself some buffer room. Picking it up three months in advance gives you too much time to forget and misplace your licence!

We also don’t recommend waiting until the very last minute to get your licence. The last thing you want to do on the morning or even week of your wedding is stress about getting to a licence issuing location. And just in case a location is closed or you forget to bring your ID, you don’t want to run out of time to try again.


signing a BC wedding licence, marriage license in Victoria, BC
by Jesse Holland Photo

*IMPORTANT* Double check your marriage licence is 100% accurate!

It is critical that the information on your marriage licence is 100% accurate. The person issuing your licence should ask you to double and triple check all of the information before they print the licence.

While it may feel silly to check your own name, take your time reading through everything. Is your name spelled correctly? Is it in the right order? Is your birth date right?

Sadly, we’ve seen situations where an innocent mistake is made on a marriage licence but a couple doesn’t catch the error until their marriage certificate arrives in the mail.

Unfortunately, at that point, you will have to go through a tedious process to change your marriage record, since the marriage has been registered with Vital Statistics. This includes filling out forms, getting certified copies of your ID, paying fees and working with a notary or lawyer.

Don’t let something as simple as a missing middle name create a huge headache in your first weeks of newlywed life!

You also want to make sure the address you provide on your licence is your accurate mailing address. This is where your marriage certificate will be mailed to after your marriage is registered.

What other information is needed to fill out a BC marriage licence? 

In addition to the information you provided to your issuer to get your licence (full names, birth dates, places of birth, address), you are also asked to provide information about your parents. This information is collected by your wedding officiant ahead of time and reported to Vital Statistics.

Vital Statistics asks for the following information for both partners (unfortunately in heteronormative terms):

  • Father’s Surname and Given name(s) and Birth PLACE (city/town/province/country)
  • Mother’s Birth (Maiden name) and Given name(s) and Birth PLACE (city/town/province/country)

If you don’t know some or all of the above information and can’t find out, you can respond with “unknown.” If you feel uncomfortable providing this information or have a different family situation, please speak with your wedding officiant.

Who signs the marriage licence at the wedding ceremony?

At your wedding, your marriage licence will be signed by you, your partner, your wedding officiant and your two witnesses.

NOTE: You need to sign your BC marriage licence with your current, legal name. Even if you’re planning to change your last name after marriage, you must sign the licence with your legal name at the time.

witness signing a BC marriage license at a vancouver wedding while the newlyweds kiss in the background
by Sambajoy

Bonus: How to NOT forget your marriage licence on the big day

Worried you might forget your marriage licence on the big day? Try this trick: Leave your marriage licence with your wedding rings!

No way you forget your rings, right? We also suggest leaving the licence and rings somewhere out in the open where you can’t miss it, like on a table you pass by often.

You also have the option of bringing your marriage licence to your wedding rehearsal and asking your officiant to hold onto it ahead of your upcoming ceremony. Please double check with your officiant that this is something they’d be happy to do for you.

How do we get our BC marriage certificate after our wedding?

Every couple who gets married in BC will automatically receive a marriage certificate from Vital Statistics in the mail. This certificate comes automatically and is sent to the address listed on your marriage licence (which is why it’s important your address is correct!).

As long as you’ve filled out your marriage licence correctly and your wedding officiant has registered it with Vital Statistics, you will get your marriage certificate.

Do we have to pay or apply for our BC marriage certificate?

No, your BC marriage certificate will be sent to you automatically after your wedding. You do not need to apply for it and you do not need to pay for it.

NOTE: In many other provinces and countries, you are required to apply and pay for your marriage certificate. So if you’re getting married somewhere other than BC, you’ll need to look into how to obtain your certificate.

How long does it take to get our BC marriage certificate? 

The Vital Statistics Agency states that couples receive their marriage certificate, on average, three weeks after their wedding. However, please keep in mind that this is just an average; we generally tell our couples it could take 3-6 weeks to receive your marriage certificate.

If your mailing address is more remote or you get married during a busy mail time, such as the December holidays, your certificate may arrive later than that.

couple signing wedding license, marriage license at backyard wedding
by Erica Miller Photography

What happens if we never get our marriage certificate?

If it has been much longer than 3-6 weeks and you still don’t have your BC marriage certificate, please reach out to your wedding officiant. They can confirm that your signed licence was mailed to Vital Statistics and help guide you through the process of tracking down your certificate.

Your officiant may also be able to provide you with a document number that you can use to confirm your certificate directly with Vital Statistics.

From there, you’ll want to reach out to Vital Statistics to inquire about your marriage certificate. You can do so via phone (Victoria: 250 952-2681 or toll-free within BC: 1 888 876-1633) or online form.

What happens if we lose our BC marriage certificate?

If you lose your marriage certificate or need an additional copy, you can order a new certificate in person, by mail or online. Certificates cost $27 or $60 for rush service. Please view this webpage for more information:

Do we need our BC marriage certificate to change our last names?

Yes, you will need your marriage certificate if you’re planning to change your last name after marriage. For a thorough walk through of the name change process in BC, please check out our guide:

How to change your last name in BC after marriage

Alternatively, you can let the pros handle the paperwork for you:

Get everything you need to change your last name for just $39! 

For just $39 (as of Jun 2023, check the website for the most up to date prices), you get access to over 750 government agencies and companies, personalized forms and letters, and everything you need to easily and quickly change your last name.

Check out Easy Name Change to get started today!

Are marriage records public in BC?

Yes, marriage records are public in BC through the BC Civil Registration, but only after 75 years. You can learn more about BC Civil Registration here.

If you need to search more recent marriage records in order to prove that you are free to marry, you can make that request through Vital Statistics, paying a $50 non-refundable fee. You can learn more about that process here.

For more information, check out our guide to BC marriage licences and certificates.

Getting married in Alberta or Ontario? Check out our Alberta marriage licence guide or Ontario marriage licence guide

Have any other questions about BC marriage licenses? Ready to book your BC wedding officiant? Get in touch!


feature image by Amber Leigh Photography