(Information taken from the Attorney-General’s website)

The Marriage Celebrant Program
Fit and Proper Person Test
Cap on the new appointments
Restrictions on your conduct while you are on the waiting list
Special or one-off ceremonies, or participation in a ceremony
Related links
Key Legislation
The Marriage Celebrants Program was established in 1973. It enables the appointment of suitably qualified people to perform marriages and provides couples with a meaningful alternative to Registry Office and mainstream church weddings.
The Government undertook an extensive four year review of the Marriage Celebrants Program commencing in 1996. The review carefully considered the opinions and experiences of marriage celebrants, celebrant organisations and the marrying couples who use celebrant services. The review identified a number of deficiencies in the program requiring reform.
A package of reforms was developed with the aim of raising the professional standards in celebrancy services provided by marriage celebrants appointed under the program. The reforms served to broaden and enhance the role of celebrants by including the provision of information on pre-marriage and other relationship services. This aims to ensure celebrants play an important role in developing longer lasting family relationships and stronger communities within Australia.
The then Attorney-General, the Hon Daryl Williams AM QC MP, announced that the changes by the way of amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 would commence on 1 September 2003.
People wishing to be authorised as a marriage celebrant will need to have completed an approved, competency-based training course delivered by a registered organisation that is accredited to deliver the training.
• National Training Information Service website
Under 'Training Packages' and 'Community Services' you will be able to view a detailed list of the units of competency required and under 'Training Providers' you can view a list of registered training organisations accredited to deliver training. Universities may also offer courses in celebrancy.
The following list of training providers for the unit of competency CHCMCEL401A - Plan, conduct and review a marriage ceremony is provided as a service for people seeking information. The Australian Government Attorney-General's Department does not accredit training providers. The accreditation of training providers is undertaken by State and Territory educational authorities. Any issues or concerns relating to training bodies should be taken up with the training provider concerned or with the relevant State or Territory accrediting body.
• List of Training Providers as at 8 August 2006
o This list is subject to change at any time
o All enquiries about the cost, method of delivery or content of training must be directed to the training organisations concerned.
If you believe your experience or training fulfils the competency requirements in the unit of training, you may seek a written assessment by a qualified assessor. A qualified assessor is someone who:
1. holds a qualification at or above Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment, and
2. Is involved in delivering marriage celebrant training.
If your assessment indicates you do not meet the competencies in the training unit, you will need to complete the training before you will be able to apply.
People who are fluent in an Australian indigenous language(s) may apply under a special provision. You should contact the Marriage Celebrants Section for more information if you believe this is relevant to you.
Fit and proper person test
Once an aspiring marriage celebrant completes an approved training course or assessment, there will be an additional requirement to demonstrate to the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants that the 'fit and proper person' criteria set out in the Marriage Act 1961 have been met.
The requirements of the 'fit and proper person' test are as follows:
• whether you have a sufficient knowledge of the law relating to the solemnisation of marriages by marriage celebrants
• whether you are committed to advising couples of the availability of relationship support services
• whether you are of good standing in the community
• whether you have been convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for one year or longer, against a law of the Commonwealth, States or Territories
• whether you have an actual or potential conflict of interest between your practice, or proposed practice, as a marriage celebrant and your business interests or other interests such as employment or hobbies,
• Whether your registration as a marriage celebrant would be likely to result in your gaining a benefit in respect of another business you own, control or carry out
• whether you will fulfil your obligations as a marriage celebrant, and
• any other matter the Registrar considers relevant to whether you are a fit and proper person to be a marriage celebrant.
You must contact the Marriage Celebrants Section for application packages. You will receive detailed instructions on completing this form. You should carefully read this information before filling in the form – an incomplete application will be returned to the sender.
Cap on new appointments
Section 39E of the Marriage Act 1961 requires that the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants not register a person if doing so would breach the cap on the number of registrations that can be made in a registration year.
The cap is 20 per cent of the total number of marriage celebrants registered by the Commonwealth. This is the maximum number that can be registered in each registration year. The registration year is 1 September 31 August each year. The cap will operate until 31 August 2008.
From 1 September 2008 any applicant who meets the mandatory training requirements and satisfies the Registrar of Marriage Celebrants that they meet the fit and proper person criteria set out in the Marriage Act 1961 will be able to be registered.
The cap on registrations represents a transitional period as we move from the closed shop system that existed prior to 1 September 2003 to a transparent and fully competitive system. The transitional period was introduced in response to concerns raised by marriage celebrants appointed prior to the introduction of the new system that too many celebrants would otherwise be appointed and they would not have time to adjust to the requirements of the new system. The Government believed that it was important to respond to these concerns as many of these celebrants had been appointed for over twenty years and the Marriage Celebrant Program itself had not been fundamentally changed since it began over thirty years ago. The transitional period balances the needs of different groups.
The cap is administered on the basis of regions that are defined in the Marriage Regulations 1963. Each State (except Tasmania) is divided into a capital city region and rest-of-state region. Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory form one region apiece. The capital city region in each State is defined in the Marriage Regulations in accordance with definitions established by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The rest-of-state region is the whole State outside the capital city region.
The cap is set on 31 August for the next registration year. The cap for each new registration year is not known until that time.
Once the cap is filled in each registration year a waiting list of those who have been found to be suitable for registration is commenced for each region. People are transferred to the waiting list strictly in the order in which their application has been processed (the Marriage Act requires that all applications be processed in the order in which they are received). At the commencement of each registration year enough people are registered from the waiting list to fill the cap for that region. Those remaining on the waiting list will move up the list.
The appointments cap has been reached in many regions for the assessment period 1 September 2006 to 31 August 2007. Waiting lists have commenced in some of these regions. Based on current projections, applicants currently being assessed as suitable can expect to be registered at the commencement of the registration year as shown below:
• Victoria - Capital City Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2008)
• Victoria - Rest of State Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2008)
• Queensland - Capital City Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2008)
• Queensland - Rest of State Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2008)
• Tasmania (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• Australian Capital Territory (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• New South Wales - Rest of State Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2008)
• New South Wales - Capital City Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• Western Australia - Capital City Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• Western Australia - Rest of State Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• South Australia - Capital City Region (applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• South Australia - Rest of State Region applicants can expect to be registered in the registration year commencing Sept 2007)
• Northern Territory (some vacancies)
Expected registration times may change depending on the size of the cap in the coming years. Suitably assessed applicants will be kept updated on their new position in the waiting list each registration year until their appointment.
Suitably assessed applicants will also be contacted again before the registration year in which they may be registered. Applicants will be asked whether their circumstances have changed. Registration as a marriage celebrant is not automatic.
Restrictions on your conduct while you are on the waiting list
Once an applicant has been placed on the waiting list for registration as a marriage celebrant they are not yet a registered marriage celebrant. As a result any applicant on the waiting list is not entitled to engage in any advertising or promotion that suggests that they are available to conduct marriage ceremonies. Applicants may only solemnise marriages once they have been formally notified of their registration as a marriage celebrant.
Applicants on the waiting list are also not entitled to accept any bookings or agree to perform any marriage until after they have been notified that they have been registered as a marriage celebrant.
Appointments will continue to be made on a lifetime basis, subject to satisfying ongoing requirements. Once authorised a marriage celebrant will need to satisfy a range of obligations. These include:
• comply with a Code of Practice covering matters such as maintaining a high standard of service and professional conduct, complying with the Marriage Act 1961, other laws and a range of requirements for the conduct of marriage ceremonies
• undertake professional development each year, and
• undergo regular reviews of performance to ensure continuing compliance with obligations.
Special or one-off ceremonies, or participation in a ceremony
Applications will not be accepted for authorisation to solemnise a single ceremony, or to solemnise marriages for friends and relatives. However, persons not authorised as marriage celebrants may participate in aspects of a marriage ceremony as long as an authorised marriage celebrant conducts the ceremony and fulfils all legal requirements for solemnising the marriage.
The authorised marriage celebrant must do the following:
• To consent to be present as the responsible authorised marriage celebrant
• To take a public role in the ceremony
• To identify themselves to the assembled parties, witnesses and guests as the celebrant authorised to solemnise the marriage
• To be responsible for ensuring the validity of the marriage according to law
• To say the words required by section 46 in the presence of the parties, the formal witnesses and the guests before the marriage is solemnised
• To be in close proximity (ie nearby) when the vows required by section 45(2) are exchanged because it is the exchange of vows that constitutes the marriage and the authorised celebrant should ensure that they see and hear the vows exchanged
• To be available to intervene (and exercise the responsibility to intervene) if events demonstrate the need for it elsewhere in the ceremony
• To be part of the ceremonial group or in close proximity to it; and
• To sign the papers required by the Act.
List of Recognised Denominations - 88KB
List of Recognised Denominations - 15KB
Notice of Intended Marriage form - 64KB
Sample Marriage Certificate - Civil Ceremonies - 708KB
Sample Marriage Certificate - Religious Ceremonies - 708KB

Related links

• Code of Practice
• Training providers
• Marriage Celebrants Associations
• Register of Marriage Celebrants
• List of authorised marriage celebrants
• Prescribed Authorities
• How to make a complaint
• Notice of Intended Marriage Form

Key Legislation
Marriage Act 1961
Marriage Regulations 1963
Privacy Statement

Iinformation about the links above to the Attourney Generals Department website
Date Created: Monday, 17 July 2006
Last Modified: Wednesday, 10 January 2007
Authorised By: Branch Head, Family Law Branch
Maintainer: Marriage Celebrants Section

Top of page


© 2007 Academic & Vocational Training Pty Ltd
TELEPHONE: (O2) 4982 1978 FACSIMILE : (02) 4982 2020
EMAIL: avt@nelsonbay.com

PO Box 43 Anna Bay Port Stephens 2316
Website by SmartArt Graphic Design & Photography
|sitemap| Home|