A Wedding In Kenya: Legal Details
If you want to have your wedding in Kenya, there is some legal stuff to observe.
First, you’ll have to choose between a Civil Ceremony or a Religious Ceremony. In both cases, you are obliged to have two witnesses present at the ceremony.What's YOUR Kenya dream wedding?
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Civil Or Religious Ceremonies
Civil Ceremonies are held at the local Register Office in Kenya, or at any other venue in possession of a Special License for weddings. Double check this in advance.
If you’d like to have a Religious Ceremony, you can choose between a Christian, Hindu, Islamic or Traditional African wedding. They are all recognized under Kenyan law, but only Christian weddings will be recorded by the Kenyan Registrar.
Hindu and Islamic couples do get a Marriage Certificate, while in an African traditional weddings affidavits are issued. If you’d like a church ceremony, you have to contact the church where you want to get married directly for the necessary religious paperwork.
Please keep in mind that non-Africans can only get married under the Marriage Act (Cap 150): most Kenyan churches use the African Christian Marriage and Divorce Act but this isn’t valid for non-Africans.
When Do You Need A Special License?
Normally, a couple has to notify both the Registrars’ Office and the church where they want to get married, 21 days before the day of marriage. Since most foreign couples fly in only a few days before their wedding in Kenya, they have to get a Special License from the Registrar of Marriages to have their wedding recognized under the Marriage Act.
You will also need a Special License if you want to have a Civil Ceremony in another place than a Register Office. You can apply for a Special License at the Registrar of Marriages, bringing the right documents with you (see below).
What Documents Should You Bring?
For a wedding in Kenya you need to present the following:
- Valid passports (both persons)
- Valid tourist visa (both persons)
- Birth certificates (both persons)
- A formal affidavit made by a solicitor or notary declaring that you are single and eligible to marry.
- Persons under 21 need written permission from their parents or guardians, in the form of an affidavit authorised by a solicitor or notary.
- If you’re widowed, you need to hand over your previous marriage certificate and spouses death certificate.
- If you’re divorced, you need to hand over a Decree of Absolute stamped by a court.
More Information About Kenya Weddings
Official information can be had from the Registrar General:
Sheria House, Room 208 (2nd Floor)
PO Box 30031, Nairobi
Phone: +254 (0)20 227 461
But it's even easier to contact a good wedding planning agency, who unfortunately are often more reliable than the Kenyan government. One that I can recommend is Ivory & Pearls, run by Irene Okech. She is from the Netherlands (like me) and understands your needs.
Disclaimer: Rules and situations can change depending on time and place. Though I’ve taken every effort to ensure this information, please do your own research before making decisions. If you notice any errors here, please contact me.
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