Singaporean marrying a foreigner: Your essential guide

Elle Kasser
12.04.21
7 minute read

Planning a wedding and getting married is an exciting process - but the formalities required can be daunting, especially if you’re marrying someone from a different country.

If you’re getting married in Singapore, and either you or your partner are not Singapore citizens or PR, you’ll need to know the eligibility rules and requirements, as well as the formal steps needed to legally marry.

To start you off, we’ve outlined the process of getting married to a foreigner in Singapore. Learn about the documents you need to prepare, the people who will be involved in your big day, and how to make sure everything goes smoothly.

We’ll also briefly touch on how you can save money when planning your wedding, for example with low cost international payments from Wise.

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Table of contents:

The process of a foreigner marrying a Singaporean

Marriage in Singapore is allowed for couples who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Both parties must usually be over the age of 21. If younger, you’ll need a special marriage license and will require approval from parents or guardians
  • Same-sex marriage is not allowed
  • If either of the couple if not a Singapore citizen or PR, one of you must be physically in Singapore for 15 days prior to applying for a marriage license

It’s also worth noting that 2 foreigners can marry in Singapore, but there may be further eligibility steps based on their visas and permits.

To be legally married in Singapore you’ll need to file advance notice of your intentions, and have your documents all checked and verified. You can then register and solemnise your marriage, either at the same time as any wedding celebrations you intend to have, or in advance of your wedding party.


Here’s an outline of the steps you’ll need to take to get married in Singapore in more detail. Muslim marriages are registered in a slightly different way, which we will cover in just a moment.

  • Choose the date and location for your solemnization - you’ll need to give at least 21 days notice
  • Find a licensed solemnizer and select 2 witnesses
  • Prepare your documents including NRIC cards or passports for the couple and witnesses
  • File notice of your intended marriage online with the ROM (Registry of Marriages), and get an appointment for verifying your documents and declaration
  • Bride and groom must attend the ROM appointment, and collect their marriage license if they intend to have the solemnization outside of the ROM location
  • Solemnization can take place e ither at ROM or a location of your choosing. After the ceremony the solemnizer will return one copy of the certificate to ROM, and give one to the bride to confirm the marriage has legally taken place

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Covid-19 and getting married

In order to ensure everyone’s safety, certain rules and restrictions around weddings have been put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic. These requirements will change over time as the situation moves on - but it’s important to check prior to planning your wedding.¹

At the time of writing, Phase 3 guidelines mean ROM solemnizations can be done with up to 10 people present, while some licensed venues with appropriate safe distancing measures can hold up to 100.

Some steps of the procedures may be done online or via video link - but this depends on the situation of the individuals involved. If both parties getting married are Singaporean or PR, both the document verification and solemnization can take place via video. If one of the couple is a foreigner, you’ll need to attend the verification appointment in person, but the solemnization can be done over video if this is preferred.

There may also be delays in getting all the documents and approvals you need, due to backlogs caused by the pandemic.


Closeup photo of bride's and groom's hands

Foreigner and Singaporean marrying: documents, solemnization, residency

If you’re planning on getting married in Singapore, you'll want to know all about the process and the steps required.

We’ll work through them in detail here - and there’s also a wealth of information on the ROM website which covers everything from marriage preparation courses to information about popular marriage dates in previous years, to help you plan based on things like where public holidays fall, and auspicious dates in the lunar calendar.²

If you’re planning an Islamic wedding, you’ll need to look at the information on the Register of Muslim Marriages (ROMM) website. While most of the steps involved are extremely similar to the ROM process, there are some different requirements in terms of paperwork and process. We’ll cover some key points here, but checking out the full detail over on the ROMM website is advised.³

Submitting notice of marriage

One of the first formal steps you’ll need to take is to complete e-filing of your notice of marriage. To do this simply visit the ROM/ROMM website and follow the steps set out.

You’ll be given an appointment to visit ROM/ROMM in person to submit your documents and the statutory declaration. Once you have completed the e-filing, print off the confirmation, as you’ll be required to take this along to your meeting.


Work-permit holder marrying Singapore Citizen/Singapore Permanent Resident

If you’re not a Singapore citizen or PR you’ll want to check the visa rules and requirements prior to planning your wedding. Depending on the type of pass you’re on there may be additional steps to take.

Usually if you’re on an employment pass you don’t have to get MOM (Ministry of Manpower) approval for your marriage. However, if you have an S-Pass your employer may need to inform MOM, and if you’re on a Work Permit, you’ll need MOM approval to make sure marriage doesn’t violate any of the terms of your pass.


Required documents

Once you have completed your e-filing you need to make arrangements for your ROM/ROMM appointment which involves verifying your documents and making a statutory declaration. The documents required are as follows:

  • Bride and groom’s original NRIC card or passports
  • Completed ‘Invitation to solemnize a marriage’ form
  • Copy of the NRIC or passport for your 2 chosen witnesses
  • If either party has previously been married you’ll also need a divorce paper or death certificate of your deceased spouse
If you’re making an application for a Muslim wedding the documents above are required. The bride’s Wali will also need to attend the ROMM meeting and take along his NRIC or passport.⁴

Verification of Documents and Statutory Declaration

The bride and groom are required to go along to the ROM office to present documents and receive your marriage paperwork if you’re having the solemnization outside of the ROM office. If you’re having a Muslim wedding, the bride’s Wali must also attend this meeting, although the witnesses are not required by either ROM or ROMM at this stage.


Marriage Preparation Program

The Ministry for Social and Family Development offers a marriage preparation program (MPP) for couples which is specifically aimed at marriages between Singapore citizens and foreigners⁵. In some cases, attending this course will be mandatory as part of the application for a LTVP for the foreign partner. The MPP may be held at the ROM on the same day as the meeting to verify documents.

There’s also a course for couples having a Muslim wedding, as well as a broad range of other enhanced courses to support anyone getting married. For after the big day itself there are also various programs designed to help couples settle into marriage.


Solemnization

Depending on how you choose to arrange your wedding, the solemnization may take place at the same time as your marriage celebrations, or beforehand. Solemnization only actually requires the bride, groom, 2 witnesses and the solemnizer, so this can be a simple intimate affair - or it can be a much bigger celebration with many guests.

Because this is still a formal process, the bride, groom and witnesses must remember to take their photo ID documents and give them to the solemnizer prior to the ceremony taking place. You’ll also need all the ROM documents collected after the statutory declaration meeting.

In the case of Muslim weddings, you’ll also need the bride’s Wali to attend. The couple, witnesses and Wali present their ID documents prior to the ceremony, and the groom must prepare his Mahar - a gift of at least S$100 given to his wife after the service.⁴


LTVP Eligibility

Someone married to a Singapore citizen or PR is not automatically eligible for a Singapore pass or visa. Prior to getting married, you’ll be able to apply for a pre-marriage long-term visit pass assessment (PMLA). This will give advance notice about whether or not the foreign partner is likely to be able to get a LTVP after marriage. If approved, you’ll get a letter or eligibility which can be used to apply for an LTVP after the wedding.⁶

⚠️ This step is crucial. Getting approval for an LTVP prior to your wedding means that getting your LTVP could take 6 weeks. However, if you leave your application until after the marriage, the same process may take 6 months.


Can a non-citizen spouse stay in Singapore after marriage?

The right to stay in Singapore as a non-citizen is entirely dependent on whether or not you qualify for a visa or visit pass. Marriage is not enough to guarantee that you’ll be issued a visa - take time to check the options for visas and LTVPs prior to arranging your wedding.


Getting married is a big step, and planning a wedding you’ll never forget is important to many couples. Make sure you remember your happy day for all the right reasons, by researching the legal requirements in advance. You’ll find lots of advice online from ROM and ROMM, to make sure everything goes smoothly. Good luck, and congratulations!

Sources:

  1. Registry of Marriages Singapore
  2. Registry of Marriages - FAQ
  3. Registry of Muslim Marriages - Marriage Process at a Glance
  4. Registry of Muslim Marriages - Eligibility
  5. Ministry of Social and Family Development - Preparing for Marriage
  6. ICA - Pre-Marriage Long-Term Visit Pass Assessment (PMLA)

Sources checked on 30 March 2021


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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