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Can An Indian Marry A Foreigner?

Because of a new law passed in 2018, foreign spouses of Indian nationals have a better chance of obtaining privileged OCI cards that grant multiple entries, multi-purpose, and life-long visas for visits to India. Please tell us more about how an Indian can marry a foreigner in India.

Here’s what you should know if you’re looking for your soulmate. They live in another country or continent, across oceans, and you can’t wait to meet them in India. Even if you believe that love, compatibility, and a sense of togetherness are all you need, the legal process and time involved with joining your soulmate may be something to consider while planning your union.

 ‘You don’t marry a person you can live with; you marry someone you cannot live without’ James C. Dobson.

Specified marriages in India are governed by the Special Marriage Act, which is a law that governs such marriages. Moreover, the Special Marriage Act is also a law that governs marriages not only between people belonging to different religions but also to different castes and backgrounds; hence, a marriage between a person of another nationality is also governed by this law. In addition, it is important to point out that for a citizen of India seeking to marry outside of India, the provisions of the Foreign Marriage Act, passed in 1969, apply. The legal age for marriage in India for girls is 18 years. For boys, 21 years, the same rule extends to marriage with a foreign national, even though their country’s domestic law may prescribe a higher or lower age for marriage. 

The Special Marriage Act, in addition to prescribing the age limit, also mentions degrees of prohibited relationships, such as mothers, stepmothers, grandmothers, step-grandmothers, etc. The Central Information Commission, while highlighting the applicability of the Special Marriage Act, has also categorically clarified that if the groom and bride belong to different religions or countries, they have to marry under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, as they are not permitted to marry under personal marital laws. Some people may not desire to perform marriage as per their religious customs and prefer marriage under the Special Marriage Act.

There is a 30-day notice requirement to be given in India if one partner is permanently and the other temporarily resides in India. Marriages between an Indian and a foreign national also shall be registered under this Act. Suppose one partner is residing in a foreign country. In that case, the ‘Marriage Notice’ form must be filled by the partner in India and the partner in the foreign country, which has to be resubmitted by the partner in India to the Registration office.

Documents, Formalities, and Certifications needed

Before solemnising your marriage, you should ensure that the following documents are ready:

  1. Birth certificates (for age proof)
  2. A valid visa of more than thirty days for the foreign national
  3. Both parties sign a single-status affidavit. Suppose one of the parties has married previously. In that case, the Divorce Decree (for divorcees) or Certificate of Death (for widowed) is necessary.
  4. Address proof and passport-size photographs
  5. Adequate documentary evidence of 30-day residence in India
  6. A ‘no-objection’ letter – For instance, if an American citizen wishes to wed in a civil marriage ceremony, he may be required to present to the marriage officer a ‘no objection letter from the US Embassy or Consulate, as well as proof of termination of any previous marriage if any. Similarly, a citizen of any other foreign country must present a no-objection letter from the Embassy or Consulate of their country. The parties also have to wait at least 30 days from the date of initial application to formalise the marriage so that the marriage officer can publish a notice, which might even include a newspaper publication, for any objections to the marriage to be voiced.

Is the Performance of Rituals and Ceremonies Enough?

While we may associate a Marriage in India with extensive rituals like walking around the fire, a lot of music, and exchanging garlands, the Court has clarified that any couple, whether Indian, NRI, or a foreigner, who wants to marry in India has to either perform a religious marriage ceremony or the civil marriage ceremony even if the marriage is celebrated under Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Marriage Act, Christian Marriage Act, and the Parsee Marriage and Divorce Act.

Such a Religious Marriage Ceremony in India is a legally valid marriage, but it needs to be registered compulsorily. For VISA and immigration purposes, a Marriage Certificate from the Registrar of Marriages is a requirement. More than getting your marriage registered may be required, and you are often required to furnish a registration certificate that acts as adequate proof of valid marriage registration. 

There is no expiry period for this certificate, and a registered marriage: like any other form of marriage, is valid until a divorce is obtained.

Succession to Property

When parties of different nationalities marry in India, succession is naturally governed by Indian laws. It is the Indian Succession Act that determines the rules applicable for deciding succession. However, suppose both parties (despite belonging to different nationalities) are Hindus. In that case, the provisions of the Hindu Succession Act would apply instead.


We have provided you with all the necessary information. If you have any issues or are looking for help, contact our team Vakilsearch or leave us your comment below.

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