If you are planning to get hitched in Kenya, there are things you need to know, and do, to avoid running into trouble with the law. After all, marriage is such a beautiful thing, you do not want to break the law doing it!
- Requirements for giving notice
The required documents to be submitted at the office of the Registrar of Marriages at Sheria House when giving notice of intention to get married include:
- Original and copies of identity cards or valid passports for both parties
- 2×2 inches colored passport photos of both parties
- Divorce decree or death certificate where applicable (for divorced or widowed parties)
Any other form of identification including military cards, waiting slips and police abstracts are not accepted and both parties must be present when submitting the application.
- Registry and costs
Once you have file all required paperwork and photocopies with the office of the Registrar of Marriages and paid Ksh. 600 for the application, you will be provided a Notice of Intention to Marry. This form must be filled and deposited at the registrar’s office at least 21 days before the marriage. The location of marriage must be indicated in the form.At the end of the 21 days, the couple must get back to the Registrar’s office and complete a sworn affidavit and set the date of the wedding. This affidavit is valid for 3 months.If you are planning a church wedding, then the office of the Registrar will provide you with a Registrar’s Certificate, at a cost of Ksh. 800, which you must take to the officiating minister. If you are planning a civil wedding you will be required to pay Ksh. 3,300 before you are given a marriage date according to the diary. If you are planning a garden wedding you will be require to pay Ksh. 7,200 to obtain a special license and you will also be required to apply for a special license with the National Environmental Management Authority, NEMA.
Please also note that when using a Christian officiant, you will be required to produce a copy of the license of the pastor conducting the ceremony and the serial number of the marriage certificate book issued to the pastor under the Marriage Act 2014.
Only under special circumstances can the couple apply for a special license that waivers the 21 day period. In that case, you will need to provide official documents explaining the need for the waiver.
- Legal marriage age and sexuality
The minimum age of marriage in Kenya is 21 years old. However, in some cases underage marriage is allowed where there is parental consent. To get parental consent, the bride must be at least 16 years of age and the groom must be at least 18 years of age. Kenya’s Law does not recognize same sex marriages and therefore you cannot have a legally recognized ceremony if both parties are of the same gender.
- The ceremony
There are two legally recognized forms of weddings in Kenya; religious and civil ceremonies. An authorized religious or civil officiant is required to preside over either ceremony at a chosen location before filing the Certificate of Marriage with the office of the Registrar of Marriages. Only then is the marriage fully recognized by Kenya’s law.
Two witnesses, at least 21 years of age must be present during the ceremony. These witnesses will be required to append their signatures on the marriage certificate offered by the civil or religious leader.
- Marriage certificate
The bride, groom, two witnesses and the minister or civil officer officiating the wedding will be required to sign the marriage certificate and it’s duplicate. The officiating minister or officer is then required to present the duplicate to the office of Registrar of Marriages within seven days after the wedding ceremony. This duplicate is to be deposited at the local government office.