Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Kenya
Allow at least 0-21 days from arrival in Kenya to wedding date to process paperwork (approval of a Special License can waive this 21 day period). We recommend giving yourself more time due to preparation, weekends, holidays or unexpected delays.
Necessary legal documents:
Please note that all documents must be submitted in English and your native language. Contact your Embassy for an authorized translator. If your documents are translated, be prepared to submit the original copies in your native language for verification as well as the translated version.
- Original or certified copy of birth certificates
- Valid Passports and photocopies
- Divorce decree or death certificates, if applicable
- Deed Poll (Any change of name requires stamped and dated legal proof by a solicitor), if applicable.
Legal requirements to get married:
- Ceremony (Civil/Religious)
Legally recognized weddings preformed in Kenya include religious and civil ceremonies. After the ceremony, at the chosen venue, the authorized officiant must file the Certificate of Marriage with Office of the Registrar of Marriages for the marriage to be recognized.
- Age and Relation
The bride and groom must be at least 21 years of age. If they are underage, parental consent is necessary. With parental consent, women must be at least 16 years of age and men must be at least 18 years of age. Note that the legal age in your home country must be met to be recognized. For example, the United States requires that both parties be 18 years of age for your marriage to be recognized upon your return to the United States. They cannot be related by blood, marriage or adoption.
Two witnesses over 21 years of age must be present for the ceremony and provide their passports.
The Registrar’s Office will provide the couple with a Notice of Intention to Marry. This form must be filled out and posted for 21 days at the Office of Registrar of Marriages and at a chosen church (if a church ceremony is desired by the couple).
21 days later, the couple must go back to the Office of the Registrar of Marriages and complete a sworn Affidavit, schedule a wedding date and fill out a Marriage Certificate form (valid for 3 months). If the couple is planning to marry in a church, the Office of Registrar of Marriages will provide the couple with a Registrar’s Certificate to be brought to the authorized minister or officiant.
Only under certain circumstances can a couple apply for a Special License that would waive the 21 day waiting period. Official documents explaining the reasoning would need to be submitted.
If the couple plans a wedding ceremony in a public place other than the Registrar’s Office or a church, than they must apply for a Special License. The 21 day waiting period may not apply but, it may not be waived. It is requested that sufficient notice be given to the Office of the Registrar of Marriages.
- The bride, groom, witnesses and authorized officiant will sign the Certificate of Marriage and Duplicate Certificate of Marriage at the ceremony.
- The officiant will bring the Duplicate Certificate of Marriage to the Office of the Registrar of Marriages, within 7 days of the wedding ceremony, to be filed with the local government.
Note: This information can change at any given moment. For up-to-date information, contact your embassy in the country in which you plan to marry.
We invite you to contact us with any new information. Be sure to note, “Update Marriage Requirements in Kenya” in the subject line.