Marriage is considered to be a pious union between two persons. The institution of marriage is firmly attached to one’s religion. There are various statutes & regulations that deal with the solemnization of marriage under various religions. However, the rigid caste system and religious incongruity thwarted couples to marry inter-caste or inter-religion. The Indian Government introduced the Special Marriage Act in 1954. The Section 4 of this act says that “any two persons” can marry under the Special Marriage Act and as a result of this act even a foreigner and an Indian can get married and register the marriage under the given Act.  The registration of marriage is very crucial to make a marriage valid in the eyes of the law and to exercise legal conjugal rights associated with that. The wedlock between a foreigner and an Indian citizen will only be considered valid if it is registered under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. In order to get a marriage registered in India, the act provides that the parties to the marriage must give a written notice to the Marriage officer where at the least “one of the parties has domiciled for no less than thirty days right away before the date on which such notice is given.”

Documents Required
Once the notice of intention of marriage is submitted under section 5 of the Special Marriage Act, the parties are required to complete the mandatory paperwork and documents before the marriage day. These documents include:

  • Birth certificates of the parties (for age proof)
  • A visa of foreign national which must be valid for more than thirty days
  • An affidavit stating single-status of the parties and signed by both the parties. If one of the parties is a divorcee, the Divorce Decree or a Death Certificate for widowed is necessary.
  • Address proof and passport size photographs
  • Sufficient documentary evidence of thirty days stay in India
  • A ‘No-Objection’ letter – a citizen of any foreign country is required to present the no objection certificate from the Embassy of his/her country. The parties to the marriage also have to wait minimum thirty days from the date of initial application to solemnize the wedding so that the marriage officer can issue a notice, which might even include a publication in newspaper. After the marriage is solemnized, the marriage officer provides parties with a certificate of marriage. The marriage certificate acts as evidence that the marriage between the two parties has been solemnized.
  • A certificate from a parish pastor if the couple is getting married in a catholic setting.
  • A Certificate of conversion if the parties are converted.

Foreign Marriage Act 1969
Besides the Special Marriage Act, marriage between a foreigner and an Indian can also be formalized under the Foreign Marriage Act, 1969. The Indian parliament passed this act after realizing the need of a separate foreign marriage laws. A foreign marriage can be formalized under this act only if one of the parties to the marriage is a citizen of India. In case of the bride the legal age is eighteen & above and for groom it is twenty-one & above, regardless of the lawful age to get married in the nation of the foreigner party. The SMA, 1954, in addition to specify the age limit, also states degrees of prohibited relationships. The laws & regulations concerning the capacity of parties and stipulations to marriage are same to that of the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The Foreign Marriage Act, 1969 is not to subdue any other provisions but is an auxiliary provision.

The FMA, 1969 can be availed by those citizens of India who are getting hitched to a foreigner or marrying outside India to get their marriage formalised under the same.
The foreign party doesn’t have to register for Indian citizenship to get married as per Indian statutes. In addition to this, if the parties are already legally married outside India, then the foreign marriage certificate is also allowed. The parties can get their marriage registered with the foreign marriage certificate.

Succession to Property in such marriages.When the parties hailing from different countries get married in India, the succession rights are innately administered by Indian laws. These rights are governed by the Indian Succession Act, 1925 that decides the rules applicable to the succession of the property. However, In case both parties are Hindus, despite hailing from different countries, it will be governed by the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 & Hindu Succession (Amendment) act, 2005 instead.

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