The Special Marriage Act: How can a Foreigner marry an Indian Citizen?
The Special Marriage Act: How can a Foreigner marry an Indian Citizen?

The Special Marriage Act: How can a Foreigner marry an Indian Citizen?



  • A marriage between an Indian citizen and a Foreigner is governed by, The Special Marriage Act (1954).
  • The act allows marrying Indians from different religions or Indians and foreigners to get married. The act also governs the marriages of both the parties to the marriage being Indian but from different religious backgrounds .i.e. Inter caste marriages.
  • A marriage conducted with regard and the procedures established by the act which has been solemnized by a Marriage Officer appointed by the Government along with a declaration by parties and witnesses is a registered marriage.


Conditions for a valid marriage under the Special Marriage Act:

  1. Any two persons belonging to different religions may marry (not needed to change their religions)
  2. Neither party should have a spouse living at the time of marriage.
  3. Neither party should be suffering from mental disorder
  4. Neither party should be unfit for procreation of children.
  5. Neither party should be suffering from incurable insanity.
  6. Neither party should be incapable of giving a valid consent (like unsoundness of mind).
  7. Parties should not be within those degrees of prohibited relationship.
  8. Age:
  9. Bridegroom: 21 years
  10. Bride: 18 years.


Special Marriage Act: Solemnization and registration of marriage: (Procedure)

  1. No religious ceremonies are required.
  2. Parties to the marriages shall give notice to the Marriage Officer in the prescribed manner.
  3. The marriage is solemnized a by Marriage Officer appointed by the Government.
  4. The Marriage is to be performed after 30 days of this public notice and before expiry of two months from issue of notice.
  5. The appointed Marriage Officer enters relevant information in the Register and issues a public notice of this information.
  6. Before marriage the applicants and three witnesses shall sign a declaration in the form specified.
  7. The marriage is thus completed and recorded in a book kept for that purpose. The entry is signed by the applicants and the witnesses.
  8. Marriage shall not be complete and binding unless each party say the below mentioned words to the other in presence of Marriage Officer and three witnesses. I (X) take thee (Y) to be my lawful wife/husband (which shall be in any language understood by the parties).


Documents needed for marriage in India between an Indian and a foreign citizen under the Special Marriage Act:

  • Full birth certificate
  • Passport
  • The foreign party will need a visa for more than 30 days (we got married whilst I was on a 6 month Tourist visa)
  • Proof of address
  • Certificate of No Impediment/Single Status Affidavit
  • Passport sized photographs


Special Marriage Act:

The Supreme Court of India, in 2006, made it mandatory to register all marriages.

A marriage can registered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 or under the Special Marriage Act, 1954 in India.

The Special Marriage Act provides for not only solemnization of a marriage but also its registration by a Marriage Officer.


Significance of the Marriage Certificate:

A Marriage Certificate is an official statement that establishes marital status of the couple.

It is an important document, which one can rely upon to prove that they are legally married to someone, and for various other purposes like obtaining a passport, opening a bank account, changing one’s maiden name, and applying for an income certificate, among other things.

A marriage certificate is essentially the legal proof of registration of a marriage.


Relevant Cases:

Pranav Kumar Mishra v. Govt. of NCT, delhi,

Justice S. Ravindra Bhat observed that the special marriage Act was enacted to enable a special form of marriage for any Indian national professing different faiths or desiring a civil form of marriage. The unwarranted disclosure of marriage plans by 2 adults entitled to solemnize it may, in certain situations, jeopardize the marriage itself.


Gitika Bagchi vs. Subhabrota Bagchi

In the present case, the apex court held that as the wife totally concealed the fact that she was 3 years older than the husband during the marriage, it amounts to fraud contemplated by Section 25 of the act.


Mousumi Chakraborty vs Subrata Guha Roy

The apex court bench held that the marriage registration certificate was conclusive proof of marriage but a marriage can only be registered legally only if a valid marriage has been solemnized according to the provisions of law.

Photo by Ibrahim Asad from Pexels



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here