Births, Deaths and Marriages: Frequently Asked Questions
Births, Death and Marriage Certificate Products
How do I apply for a certificate?
You can apply for a certificate by phone, email, post, fax or in person at one of the Identity Services offices. See How to Contact Us for contact details. We need to know the type of certificate your require (birth, death or marriage), the name of the person(s), date and place of the event, and for birth certificates, the parents' names.
How much does it cost?
A certificate costs NZ$26.00. This is an official document. If you only require the information, rather than an official document, you may wish to apply for an electronic printout which costs NZ$26.00 if the event took place from 1848 to 1874, or NZ$20.00 if the event took place after 1874. These copies are often requested for genealogical information purposes.
How can I pay?
Please do not send cash in the mail. Payment can be made by:
The minimum information to provide (with payment) is the type of certificate, the person's name and the year of the event.
What if I don't know the year of the event?
If you cannot supply the exact year, you have several options:
Certificates for events registered prior to the 1st of January 1998 will take up to eight working days to issue, plus postage time. Certificates for events registered after the 1st of January 1998 will be issued within one working day, provided the registration process has been completed.
What information will it have on it?
The certificate will reflect the information that was provided at the time the event was registered. The registration information has changed throughout the years. For example, parents only used to record their age at the time of their child's birth, whereas now we record the parents actual dates of birth. For further information, view, download or print out Family Record Research: a guide to tracing your family history (112k).
How do I find out my time of birth?
The time of birth is not recorded on the birth certificate. You may wish to contact the hospital of where the birth occurred who may be able to assist you further.
Why does the certificate carry the warning 'This certificate is not evidence of the identity of the person presenting it'?
In New Zealand, birth, death and marriage records (bar pre-adoptive records) are public records. As anyone can purchase a certificate, it is a supporting document of someone's identity (sometimes in conjunction with other forms of identity), rather than a document that proves someone's identity.
Will birth, death and marriage records come on-line?
Births, Deaths and Marriages have recently completed work on converting approximately 10 million paper-based records to image/text format. Our current focus is directed towards matters of access and how this will be made available. Whilst we cannot give a specific timeframe for if, and when, this service might be available on-line, we can confirm that the proposals are included in our current five year business plan.
How do I apply for a pre-adoptive birth certificate?
When a person has been legally adopted, the birth certificate that we normally issue is the post-adoptive birth certificate, showing the details of the adoptive parents. If you are adopted, you may wish to apply for a copy of your original, pre-adoptive birth certificate, showing the details of your birth before you were adopted. Under New Zealand law, you can do this once you turn 20, by writing to Births, Deaths and Marriages. Please see 'Birth Certificates and Adoption' for further information about how to apply.
How do I apply for a birth certificate if I was born outside of New Zealand?
New Zealand Births, Deaths and Marriages issues certificates for events that occurred within New Zealand. If you were born outside of New Zealand please contact the Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in New Zealand that represent the country in which you were born, for further information.
How do I register the birth of my newborn?
The legal guardian(s) of the child (in most cases the biological parent(s)) must complete a 'Notification of Birth for Registration' form, which is often provided by the hospital or midwife shortly after the birth. If you have not received the form within a few weeks of the birth please contact us.
How long do I have to register the birth?
Every birth in New Zealand must be registered by law. The birth of your child should be registered as soon as possible.
How much does it cost?
There is no charge for registration, however if you require a birth certificate please enclose the NZ$26.00 certificate fee with the registration. Please do not send cash in the mail. Payment can be made by:
If the child's parents are legally married to each other, either the mother or father can sign the birth registration form. If they are not legally married to each other the mother must sign the birth registration form, and if the fathers details are to be recorded he must also sign the birth registration form.
How long will it take?
The registration process takes up to eight working days. You will not be notified once birth has been registered. If you have requested a birth certificate with the registration, this will be sent to you once the birth is registered.
How do I register my baby, who was born outside of New Zealand, as a New Zealand citizen?
Any person born outside New Zealand on or after 1 January 1978, and whose mother or father was a New Zealand citizen, other than by descent (ie. by birth in New Zealand, or by grant) at the time of that person's birth is a New Zealand citizen. Contact the New Zealand Citizenship Office for further information about how to register the persons New Zealand citizenship.
What sort of marriage ceremonies are there?
There are two kinds of ceremony. One is a civil ceremony held by a Registrar of Marriages in a Registry Office. The other is a ceremony held by an authorised marriage celebrant, including ministers of religion, at any other place, including places of worship. If you decide to be married by a celebrant you need to make an agreement with them about where and when the marriage will take place, and the type of ceremony.
What are the legal steps we must take to get married?
To get married in New Zealand you require a marriage licence. Before you apply for the marriage licence you must:
If you are applying for the marriage licence from outside of New Zealand, the only difference is in regards to the form you complete (BDM 58), and the signing of the declaration. If you are overseas, the declaration must either be signed by a Commonwealth Representative, and then sent (with payment) to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. Or, you can complete everything on the form except the declaration, and send it (with payment) to the Registry Office in New Zealand closest to where you will be married. When you arrive in New Zealand, you then need to visit that office, sign the declaration and collect the marriage licence.
How long does it take to get a marriage licence?
If approved, the licence will be issued in three days and it is valid for three months.
What does 'legally free to marry' mean?
It means that you are not married already, are 16 or over (and have parental consent if aged under 20), and are not closely related to each other in certain ways.
How do we know who we cannot marry?
The back of the 'Notice of Intended Marriage' form gives a full list of people you cannot marry. In general, you cannot marry a close relative by blood or marriage. This includes relatives by adoption and some step relatives. You may not marry someone of the same gender as you. If you are not sure of your situation contact us for further information.
What are the legal requirements for all marriage ceremonies?
The legal requirements are that:
How do we find a marriage celebrant?
All celebrants are listed in the New Zealand Gazette. This is available at Births, Deaths and Marriages offices and agencies, most libraries, and Citizens Advice Bureaux. If you want to marry in a church, or other place of worship, contact the administrative office of that place to find out if a marriage celebrant is appointed to perform marriages there. Your local Registrar of Marriages will have a list of independent celebrants and some may also be listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Marriage Celebrants'.
Where is our nearest Registrar of Marriages?
The contact details for your nearest Registrar of Marriages can be obtained by contacting us. A Registrar of Marriages is located in most cities and towns throughout New Zealand. Outside of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch they are often located at the local District Court. Please note that not all District Courts have a Registrar of Marriages, please contact either the courts directly or contact us to confirm that a Registrar of Marriages is located there.
If we decide to get married by a celebrant, where can we get married?
You can get married at any place you and the celebrant agree on. The place must be stated on the marriage licence, so it is a good idea to include an alternative place, particularly if you plan to get married outdoors.
What happens if we are married by a Registrar?
You need to make arrangements with the Registrar about a time and date for the ceremony. This date must be at least three days and less than three months after you give notice of your intended marriage. The cost is NZ$170.00, which includes the ceremony and the licence.
What time of the day can we get married?
You can have a Registry Office marriage during normal office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm). You may be married outside normal office hours or on other public holidays only if the Registrar agrees to perform the ceremony and an additional fee is paid. You cannot have a Registry Office marriage on Sundays, ANZAC Day, Good Friday or Christmas Day. You can have a celebrant marriage on any day, and at any time, upon which you and the celebrant agree.
What if either of us has been married before?
If either of you have been married before, and the marriage has been dissolved, you will be asked to produce evidence of the dissolution (eg Divorce/Dissolution Order) when you give notice to the Registrar. If your previous spouse has died you do not need to produce evidence of their death, but you will need to give the date of death on the 'Notice of Intended Marriage' form.
How old do we have to be to get married, and do we need parental permission?
Both people must be 16 or over and anyone under 20 needs parental permission. Please contact us for further information.
Does my name have to change when I get married?
No. In New Zealand it has been customary for a woman to assume her husband's surname after marriage. In some cases couples are combining their names to create a new family name, or some husbands are assuming their wife's surname on marriage. None of these changes affects your registered birth name.
How do I become a civil marriage celebrant?
Applications are to be made in writing and sent to Central Registry. Please see 'Becoming a Civil Marriage Celebrant' for further information.
What do I need to do to get married overseas?
If you are getting married overseas it is important that you contact the marriage authorities of the country where you plan to marry and check their marriage laws and requirements. Contact details may be found from the countries Embassy, Consulate or High Commission in New Zealand.
How do I apply for a Certificate of No Impediment or a Certificate of Search?
Certain overseas countries require a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage before allowing you to marry, to prove that you are not already legally married in your country of citizenship or residence. Please see 'Getting Married Overseas' for further information.
Can I register my overseas marriage in New Zealand?
Your marriage should be registered in the country where it took place. Most marriages that take place overseas in accordance with the laws of that country are recognised by New Zealand law. There is no legal obligation to register your overseas marriage in New Zealand, however you may do this if an authorised official from an overseas New Zealand post witnesses your marriage ceremony. You should contact the nearest New Zealand overseas post to where you plan to marry, to determine whether they are able to provide this service. A fee will be required.
How do I get a divorce?
The Department for Courts processes divorces in New Zealand. Please contact your local court or a lawyer for further information.
How do I get a copy of my divorce papers?
Please contact Department of Courts for further information about how to obtain a copy of the divorce papers or certificate. If the marriage and divorce both occurred in New Zealand, the details will be added as an endorsement to the marriage entry, and will appear on any copy of that marriage certificate that you may subsequently order.
Who registers the death?
The Funeral Director or person responsible for the disposal of the body, or their authorised agent, must notify us of the death and complete the 'Notification of Death for Registration' form. A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death or Coroner's Order must be provided with this form by the Funeral Director or other person in charge of the body.
How long do we have to register the death?
Notification must be made within three working days after the disposal of the body (ie burial or cremation).
How much does it cost?
There is no charge for registration, however if you require a death certificate please enclose the NZ$26.00 certificate fee with the registration. Please do not send cash in the mail. Payment can be made by:
The registration process takes up to eight working days. You will not be notified once death has been registered. If you have requested a death certificate with the death registration, this will be sent to you once the death is registered.
How can I change my name?
If you are aged 18 or over, or are aged 18 or under and are or have been married, you need to complete a Change of Name by Statutory Declaration (BDM120) application form (.pdf) 19k. Please see 'Changing a Name' for further information.
How do I change my child's name (aged 2 or under and born in New Zealand)?
The legal guardian(s) can change the child's name by jointly signing a letter asking for this change, or by completing a Request for Change of Name Within 2 Years of Birth Application Form (BDM 36) (.pdf) 20k. Please see 'Changing a Name' for further information.
How do I change my child's name (aged over 2 but under 16, or under 2 and born outside of New Zealand)?
To change your child's name, the legal guardian(s) of the child must complete a Change of Name by Statutory Declaration of unmarried person aged under 18 (BDM122) Application Form (.pdf) 20k. If one parent or guardian is not able to sign the form, the reason why one guardian may need to act alone must be described in the Statutory Declaration. Please see 'Changing a Name' for further information.
How do I change my child's name (aged between 16 and 18, and never married)?
The process and fees are the same as to change a child's name aged over 2 but under 16 (above), with the exception that the person's whose name is being changed must also agree to the name change and also sign the application form.
How long does it take?
The name change application takes approximately three weeks to process. Once completed, you will receive a letter advising you that the change of name has been registered, and if the fee was provided with the application, a new birth certificate or name change document.
How do I get a record of my new name?
If your birth is registered in New Zealand, your name change will be recorded on any birth certificate that is issued after the name change request has been processed. Alternatively you can apply for an official copy of the statutory declaration document for the fee of NZ$20.00. If your name was changed by deed poll prior to September 1995, you can apply for an official copy of the deed poll for the fee of NZ$20.00.
How can I have the change of name noted on my marriage registration?
You need to complete all questions in the 'Legally Married' section of the form. There is an additional charge of NZ$45.00 for this service (or NZ$71.00 including the issue of a new marriage certificate once the name change has been completed). This can only be done if the marriage took place in New Zealand.
Do I need to apply for a change of name if I want to use my husband's/wife's surname or revert to my maiden or birth surname?
You are legally entitled to use your maiden name, any married surname, or a combination of these names, at any time in your life, unless you have already renounced these names by taking out a statutory declaration name change.
Last updated: 26/01/2004