The Hong Kong Marriage Ordinance (Chapter 181) governs marriages contracted in Hong Kong and United States citizens wishing to marry here must comply with the provisions of this law. There are no residency requirements for persons wishing to marry in Hong Kong.
At least seventeen days before the marriage is to take place , one of the parties to the proposed marriage should appear personally before the Hong Kong Marriage Registration Office to file a Notice of Marriage. The Marriage Registration Office is located at 3/F, Queensway Government Offices, Low Block, Hong Kong (tel: 2867-2787). The person filing the Notice of Marriage must produce his/her passport and a xerox copy of the vital statistics pages of his/her fiance(e)'s identity documents. The Notice is valid for three months after its receipt by the Registrar. After three months, the Notice becomes void and fresh notice must be given. The Registration Office charges HK$305 (about U.S. $40) to process a Notice of Marriage application.
After the Notice is filed, 15 "clear" days (17 days including Sundays) must elapse when persons so authorized by law may file a written objection to the proposed marriage with the Registrar of Marriages. If no objection is received by the end of this period, the marriage may take place.
Children under age 16 may not marry in Hong Kong. Minors (16-21) need the written consent of their father (or mother if their father is deceased or incompetent) or legal guardian. Divorced or widowed persons should produce documentary evidence of their status. Divorced persons must fill out a supplementary form when filing the Notice of Marriage. They are also required to show a certified copy of the Court's final divorce decree sometime before the marriage takes place. Armed forces personnel must have written permission to marry from the senior overseas area commander of their particular branch of service. In these cases, registration of marriage may take up to 6 weeks.
In the event that neither party to the marriage is able to appear personally to file the Notice of Marriage, the necessary forms including the supplementary form required of divorced persons, can be obtained by writing the Registrar of Marriages. These forms must be executed before a Notary Public and returned to the Registry by registered air mail along with a fee of HK$305 (which can be a bank draft made payable to the Hong Kong Government). The marriage can take place no earlier than seventeen days after the Registrar has received the completed forms. After their arrival in Hong Kong, the two parties to the marriage must appear in person before the Registrar and show their identification documents.
Two witnesses are required at the marriage ceremony. Personnel of the American Consulate General in Hong Kong cannot witness marriages. The actual ceremony can take place either at a Marriage Registry Office or in a licensed church. It is not necessary to have both a church and Registry wedding. At the time the Notice of Marriage is filed, a date can be arranged for a Registry wedding. On local holidays it may be difficult to secure and appointment to marry at City Hall but it is usually possible to arrange for marriage ceremonies at other Registry offices, particularly in the outlying areas.
At the time of the ceremony, an additional HK$715 (about U.S. $93) on weekdays and HK$1,935 (about U.S.$251)on Sundays and Saturdays is charged for the marriage certificate. Extra copies can be obtained for nominal fee.
For additional information, interested persons can write directly to the Hong Kong Marriage Registration Office, at 3/F, Queensway Government Offices, Low Block, Hong Kong (tel: 2867-2787). Offices of the Hong Kong Marriage Registry are listed below.