The Requirements for Court Marriage in Nigeria

by Oluwatoowo Onifade

Marriage is the coming together of two adults who have decided to become one for whatever reasons (best known to them). It is a beautiful journey that starts with the legalization of marriage. However, many intending couples often prefer doing a court marriage because of its affordability. In this piece, we will examine the requirements for a court wedding in Nigeria.

There are different kinds of marriage in Nigeria- Religious, traditional, and court. All these types require that different prerequisites be met before either takes place. Take, for example, in religious marriage – the requirements for these types of marriages vary from Christianity to Islam, same as traditional marriage: traditional marriage varies just as ethnic groups vary in Nigeria, different cultural groups, and different requirements. However, this article will not delve into that as it is based on requirements for court marriage in Nigeria.

Court/Legal Marriage in Nigeria

The Federal Government of Nigeria officially recognizes the court wedding as proof of a marriage contract between couples. Therefore, it is protected under the Marriage Act, Chapter 218 of Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990. There are several requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria, but first, we will consider eligibility.

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Eligibility for Court Marriage in Nigeria

  1. Any Nigerian living in Nigeria or abroad and wishes to enter into a permitted marriage with a Nigerian or Non-Nigerian can apply.
  2. Two Non-Nigerians residing in Nigeria and wishing to get married inside Nigeria under the Marriage law stipulated by the Nigerian government can also apply.
  3. The couple’s relationship should not fall under the Prohibited Degree of Relationship specified by the Nigerian government.

Types of Court Marriage in Nigeria

Before talking about the requirements for court marriage in Nigeria, let us quickly discuss the types of court marriages. There are two types of Court marriages recognized in Nigeria. They differ only in processing days, nationality of partners, and amount. However, each one has different requirements for Court marriage.

  1. Ordinary marriage

This is a marriage between a Nigerian and another Nigerian. The cost is ₦ 15,000.00 to be carried out in 21 days.

  1. Special Marriage

A marriage between a Nigerian and a non-Nigerian or a non-Nigerian and another non-Nigerian in Nigeria. The cost is ₦ 25,000.00, carried out in 7 days.

Please bear in mind that the cost may vary depending on your local government, and there are differences in the requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria.

The Requirements for court marriage in Nigeria

requirements for court marriage

To be legally wedded in Nigeria, you have to fulfill the following requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria:

  1. Declaration of marriage

This involves filling the Notice Form, otherwise called Form A. Form A consists of the personal details of the soon-to-be couples; it includes their names, age, address, occupation, marital status (widowed, bachelor, etc.) and should be accompanied with two colored passport photographs alongside your signatures. Note that intending couples must be at least 21 years of age.

If one or both intending couples are minors, a letter of consent from the parents of the minor(s) must be attached to Form A. The Registry then pastes the Notice Form on the notice board at the Registry for 21 days to entertain any objection. If no objection is raised after the 21 days, the registrar then issues Form C upon the parties meeting the following conditions:

  • One of the parties to the marriage has been resident within the district where the marriage is to take place.
  • Either of the parties to the marriage is not married to someone else under customary law.
  • Absence of any lawful impediments to the wedding.
  1. Affidavit of Oath

After the 21 days for any objections and notice has elapsed upon meeting the three conditions, the intending couples will approach the Registry for the official ceremony. The parties will be given three separate forms (Affidavit form, Prohibited Degree form, and information slip) to assist the Registry in obtaining information about the parties.

The parties will be required to fill the form, submit it to the Registry, and depose it to an affidavit declaring that all the information supplied is true and correct. After the declaration of the oath, the parties are expected to pick a date for the marriage ceremony.

  1. Witnesses

Having witnesses is another one of the top requirements for court marriage in Nigeria. On the day of the official marriage ceremony, the intended couples are to be accompanied to the Marriage Registry with the witnesses or any person(s) they require to be present on the day.

The intending couples and their witnesses must sign the marriage certificate. The newly wedded couple will be given one original copy of the marriage certificate. Furthermore, a court marriage may also be conducted in an accredited church.

How many witnesses are required for court marriage in Nigeria? 

As many people as you would like to witness your wedding are welcome at the courthouse. However, witnesses who would sign the marriage certificate must be at least 2 (apart from the officiating minister who carried out the joining of the couple)

What documents do you need for a courthouse wedding in Nigeria?

To have a courthouse wedding in Nigeria, a list of the following documents must be uploaded if you and your partner are registering online or packaged if you and your partner are registering in person at a registry. Below are the documents required to meet requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria.

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ORDINARY MARRIAGE: Requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria must be submitted for both Male and Female

  • Certificate Birth or Age Declaration
  • Passport photographs (as required)
  • Applicable Proof of Single status (Bachelorhood/Spinsterhood Certificate or Sworn Affidavit from Law court)
  • Affidavit/valid proof of marriage (if already married)
  • Proof/Decree absolute of Divorce (if one or both partners are divorcees)
  • Former Spouse’s Certificate of Death (of one or both partners is a widow/widower)
  • Proof of Annulment from a court (where applicable)
  • Sworn Affidavit for possession of Child/Children (if single with child/children)

SPECIAL MARRIAGE: Special Requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria must be submitted for both Male and Female

  • Certificate Birth/Age Declaration
  • Passport photographs (as required)
  • Applicable Proof of Single status (Bachelorhood/Spinsterhood Certificate or Sworn Affidavit from Law court)
  • Affidavit/valid proof of marriage (if a partner is already married)
  • Proof/Decree absolute of Divorce (of one or both partners are divorcees)
  • Former Spouse’s Certificate of Death (if one or both partners is a widow/widower)
  • Proof of Annulment from a court (where applicable)
  • Sworn Affidavit for possession of Child/Children (if single with child/children)
  • Identification/Indigene Letter from State of Origin (Nigerians only)
  • International Passport Data Page (people living abroad)
  • Arrival Passport Stamp Page (people living abroad)
  • Residence Permit (people living abroad)

In conclusion, a court wedding is constitutionally recognized, saves time, and is the cheapest wedding in Nigeria. Still, all requirements for Court marriage in Nigeria must be met before it can be held, and has a long process. It is non-religious and legally binding.

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About Author

Avatar of Oluwatoowo Onifade
Oluwatoowo Onifade
I am Oluwatoowo Onifade
A graduate of English Language from Obafemi Awolowo University.
I am a content writer, fashion designer and a baker.
Belief- learning never ends. You can learn from anywhere, anytime and from anyone.
My hobbies are arithmetics and reading.

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Leave a Comment

8 comments

Avatar of Ibukunoluwa
Ibukunoluwa December 28, 2022 - 1:01 pm

If you already have a child with your partner and you want to have court wedding is it still possible?

Reply
Avatar of Oluwatoowo Onifade
Oluwatoowo Onifade December 30, 2022 - 12:04 pm

Yes, as long as you are not married to the same person earlier-you cannot have two court weddings with the same person.

You can still have a court marriage with your partner despite you both already have a child. All you need is a “sworn affidavit that you are single with a child/children”.

Reply
Avatar of Japhet John
Japhet John January 6, 2023 - 4:23 am

Thanks a lot! This has really been of great help to us.
Just one question- how long from all the paper works, can we have the marriage, finally. As in, could we wait like months, years. How long pls…

Reply
Avatar of Oluwatoowo Onifade
Oluwatoowo Onifade January 6, 2023 - 8:29 am

I am glad you find it useful, thank you.

From the submission of your first paper work to when you can pick a wedding date,the process takes between 5 to 8 weeks maximum.

Once you are issued a Form D (you will be told you’ve been issued), you must have your wedding within 3 months.

But processes from your first submission to Form D, takes about 5 weeks minimum and 2 months maximum.

Reply
Avatar of Evelyn Beneditte Onedibe
Evelyn Beneditte Onedibe January 15, 2023 - 10:45 am

I read where you stated that,”A court marriage can be conducted in an accredited church”, can you please explain ?

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Avatar of Oluwatoowo Onifade
Oluwatoowo Onifade January 16, 2023 - 7:02 am

What I mean by a court marriage can be conducted in an accredited church is that Orthodox Churches, particularly Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, etc provide you with a marriage certificate that is the same as that issued by the Court registry. If you get married at an Orthodox church, you will receive two copies of the marriage certificate, one for your home and the other for the registry to document your wedding.

That way, there is no need to have a court wedding because your marriage certificate will be that of the Federal Republic of Nigeria according to the Marriage Act.

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Avatar of Andre
Andre January 18, 2023 - 6:26 pm

I’m an American Male marrying a Nigerian Female. Is a resident card required for me? I have a Passport and a Nigerian Visa.

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Avatar of Oluwatoowo Onifade
Oluwatoowo Onifade January 18, 2023 - 8:41 pm

Yes, please. You will have what is called special marriage. To have the special marriage, either/both parties living abroad must have a residential permit since you want to have the wedding in Nigeria.

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