Conditions for marriage

Where can a marriage be entered into

A marriage may be entered into in a church or civil ceremony.

A civil ceremony is usually conducted by a judge at a District Court. In addition, a civil ceremony may be held at some Norwegian foreign service missions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' country pages contain an overview of Norwegian foreign service missions that are authorised to perform wedding ceremonies.

Couples can also be married by a belief community that is entitled to perform wedding ceremonies.

Church weddings may be conducted by a clergyman of the Church of Norway or a priest or minister of a registered religious community. If the wedding is to take place in a religious community, this community must be registered and licensed to perform wedding ceremonies. The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs and County Governor have an overview of religious communities and belief communities that are licensed to conduct a wedding. Clergymen at some Norwegian Churches Abroad can also conduct church weddings. Persons wanting to get married can contact a person authorised to perform wedding ceremonies (civil or church) at the location where they want to get married.

Conditions for marriage:

Before a marriage can be entered into, the conditions for marriage must be proven. This means it must be checked that those who are going to get married fulfil the conditions stipulated in the Marriage Act. It is the National Registry (the tax office) that checks whether the conditions for marriage have been met. These checks are based on the parties' own declarations (declarations by the parties to the marriage, bridal declarations/declarations by sponsors), the National Registry's information and other relevant documentation. 

• Age requirement. A person who wants to get married must be at least 18 years old. If anyone under 18 years of age wants to get married, they must have the consent of the person or persons who have parental responsibility for them and of the County Governor. The County Governor may only give such consent when there are strong grounds for a marriage. The County Governor may not give consent if the person wanting to get married is under 16 years of age. Anyone who marries someone under 16 years of age or is guilty of aiding and abetting in this may be punished by imprisonment for up to four years.

• Voluntariness. A marriage must be voluntary on the part of both parties. According to the General Penal Code, anyone who forces someone to get married may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to six years. Aiding and abetting in this is punishable in the same way.

• Not closely related. The parties who are getting married must not be closely related to each other. This means they must not be siblings or relatives in a direct ascending or descending line (i.e. parents and children).

• Marriage to cousins. It is not against the law for cousins to get married but it is important to note that if the parents are related to each other there is an increased risk of having children who are ill or have congenital deformities and of stillbirths, cot deaths and children with reduced life expectancies. The Norwegian Directorate of Health has published an information brochure about having children when the parents are related to each other. This brochure is available in several languages and can be found on the Norwegian Directorate of Health website.

• Not already married. A person may not get married if he or she is already married or in a registered partnership. A person who gets married despite the fact that he or she is already married may be sentenced to imprisonment for up to four years. If the other spouse did not know about this fact, a prison sentence of up to six years may be imposed. Aiding and abetting is punished in the same way. Married persons who reside in Norway may be punished according to this provision if they enter into a new marriage abroad.

• Anyone getting married in Norway must be legally entitled to be in the country. This issue is regulated by the legislation governing foreigners, refer to the website of the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI). It is up to the person getting married to document that he/she is legally entitled to be in Norway.

• If any previous marriage or registered partnership has ended through divorce or death, the administration and division of the previous matrimonial property must have been started on or completed.

• If either of the parties has been divorced in a foreign country, this divorce must usually be approved by the County Governor. This takes place pursuant to the Act relating to the recognition of foreign divorces and separations.

• A person who is resident abroad must bring with him/her a certificate of no impediment to marriage in order to get married in Norway. This certificate states that, according to the laws of the country where the person resides, there is no impediment to him/her getting married in Norway.

If the National Registry (tax office) finds that the conditions for marriage have been met, the tax office issues a certificate of no impediment to marriage. The official who is to perform the wedding ceremony must have this before the wedding can take place. A certificate of no impediment to marriage from the National Registry is valid for four months from its date of issuance.

Valid marriage

Marriage is entered into by the persons who are getting married coming before an official who is to perform the wedding ceremony. While both are present, they must declare that they want to get married to each other. Thereafter, the official who is to perform the wedding ceremony will declare them to be a married couple.

If this wedding procedure is not followed, the marriage is not regarded as having been entered into and is invalid. This means that marriages entered into by proxy or by telephone are not recognised as being valid. A marriage will also be invalid if the official performing the ceremony was not authorised to do so or there was no valid certificate of no impediment to marriage from the National Registry.

The Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs is authorised to provide subsequent approval of an invalid marriage when there are special grounds for this. In each case, there is an individual, discretionary assessment of whether there are special grounds which indicate that the invalid marriage should nevertheless be approved. The opportunity to provide subsequent approval is intended to provide a remedy in exceptional cases, refer to the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs website.

Marriage entered into abroad

Marriage entered into abroad It is possible to be married by a foreign authority in accordance with the country in question's laws and regulations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has information on foreign weddings on its country pages. Many countries require a certificate of no impediment to marriage issued by the National Registry. For more information on this, contact the country in question's embassy. Persons who get married abroad must notify the Tax Administration and submit a marriage certificate or proof that he or she has entered into a marriage. See more information on the Tax Administration website.   A marriage entered into abroad under foreign law is recognised in Norway provided it was validly entered into in the country where the wedding took place. A marriage entered into abroad will not, however, be recognised if it will obviously offend Norwegian legal order, so-called ordre public. If there is any doubt about whether a marriage exists, a court action may be brought to prove the validity of the marriage. There are no other public bodies in Norway that formally approve the validity of a marriage entered into abroad but many bodies must decide on the validity for use in their own procedures. A marriage entered into abroad after 1 June 2007 will not be recognised in Norway if one or both of the parties are Norwegian citizens or residents of Norway when the marriage was entered into and:

• one of the parties is a minor, i.e. under 18 years of age, when they get married, • the marriage has been entered into without both parties being present at the wedding (a telephone marriage or proxy marriage) or,

• one of the parties is already married.

Following a petition from both parties, however, the marriage may nonetheless be recognised if there are strong grounds for doing so. This is a narrow exemption provision that is practised very strictly. It is therefore rare for such a marriage to provide grounds for family reunification. Any applications for recognition are to be sent to the Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs, which can also provide guidance in this area.