Can You Get Legally Married In Bali?
With its gorgeous scenery, relatively low costs and breathtaking locations for ceremonies and parties, Bali has become the ultimate destination to host a wedding. But couples looking to host their wedding in Bali will be wondering whether it’s possible to get legally married there and perhaps whether the marriage will be recognised in their home country. You’ll be glad to hear that foreigners can have a legal wedding in Bali, but there are a few steps to follow so it’s important to take a close look at what's involved, and follow the laws and customs for different religions and nationalities.
Here we hope to provide you with most of the information you need about legal marriages in Bali. However, it’s by no means 100% foolproof, as sometimes the laws in Indonesia are subject to change or have not been made crystal-clear. We’d definitely advise you to seek the assistance of a wedding company or legal expert if you’re planning to have your wedding in Bali and we have a team of administrators on staff to help do this if you'd like our help.
Also, take a moment to brush up on your general Bali wedding knowledge with our Bali specific tips and tricks blog or our check out our video library which is packed with important Bali venue information as well as helpful tips to make your wedding planning a breeze.
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Basic Legal Requirements
Firstly, you’ll have to be over 18 to get legally married in Bali, and the process for having a legal marriage in Bali will be slightly different for various nationalities. You may be required to hand in different paperwork and the process may be different depending on whether your country has a consulate in Bali. For most people, you’ll need to bring your
- Copy of Decree Absolute if divorced
- Copy of Death Certificate of former spouse if applicable
- Copy of Documentary evidence of any change of name (eg, former marriage certificate/deed poll)
- Birth certificates are normally required by the Indonesian authorities and it is recommended that you bring these with you
- Money (the amount varies) to pay the embassy
Religious And Civil Ceremonies
The first thing couples looking to get married in Bali need to know is that you are legally required to have a religious ceremony alongside a civil one. This doesn’t mean you need to host two separate ceremonies – many are now combined in one. This is made easier by the fact that they do have to be held on the same day, at the same location. The religious ceremony can also take place at home, or at a restaurant, the beach or in a villa. Most venues are fine except Balinese temples which are off limits.
Having this religious ceremony does mean that both the bride and groom have to declare the same religion. Now, we’re not advising that you be dishonest, but the keyword here is declare. There’s no actual proof needed other than the bride and groom's declaration that they are both Christian, or both Muslim, et cetera. Their declaration will not be investigated or scrutinised. You must have the right ceremony for the religion you have – so no Hindu ceremonies for Christians or vice versa.
Next, it’s important to consider which religions are recognised in Indonesia (see list below), as not all of them are.
- Christian Protestant
We want to remind you that it is absolutely impossible to get legally married in Bali without a religious ceremony. As Indonesia is a highly religious country, it’s imperative that couples have a religious ceremony to be legally married.
Symbolic Ceremonies For Non Recognised Religions
Unfortunately, Judaism isn’t recognised in Bali along with several others such as Sikhism, Taosim and many more. It is possible for people of these faiths to have a non-legal wedding which will be a symbolic ceremony. Some people prefer to have a non-legally binding ceremony in Bali and then figure out the formalities back home. Many Chinese couples are now choosing to have non-legal weddings here, so much so that they now outnumber legal ceremonies. Some couples of the Jewish faith have had gorgeous Jewish-themed symbolic ceremonies, so if you happen to be from a faith that isn’t recognised, don’t fret! You can still have a beautiful ceremony here and do the legal formalities at home.
For a non-legal wedding you won’t need to fill out any paperwork in Bali, or worry about the laws. It’s also going to be much cheaper. For a non-legal wedding, a certified celebrant will carry out the ceremony. They may or may not be a real priest but this won’t matter since it’s only symbolic. For symbolic weddings, you won’t be asked to declare your faith and it won’t matter if you are of different faiths. You can have the ceremony performed to resemble a Christian one, or a Balinese one if you desire.
Gay Marriage Is Forbidden
Sadly, Bali is not a destination for rainbow weddings. Gay marriage is absolutely forbidden in Indonesia, so no couples of the same sex will be able to get legally married here. In the past, wedding companies that have carried out even symbolic ceremonies for gay couples have gotten into trouble with the law. It’s a real shame, but unfortunately that’s the law in Indonesia.
Some Religions Demand A Different Process
For a Catholic wedding, you will have to have your ceremony in a Catholic church in Bali. It’s the one religion out of the list that demands this. Some Catholic churches in Bali officiate weddings for foreigners, but overall the process is a little more complicated and you may have to fork out more money for a Catholic wedding. Please remember that you cannot have a Catholic wedding in a villa or on the beach.
Muslim Weddings in Bali
Because Indonesia is a Muslim country, Muslim weddings are among the easiest. There’s no need for an additional civil ceremony and Muslims don’t need to have their ceremonies in a mosque, but it’s entirely possible to do so if you wish! You’ll need to provide a document proving that you’re Muslim, and the ceremony will be carried out by an official from the ‘Kantor Urusan Agama’ – The Office of Religious Affairs. You’ll be pleased to know that this ceremony is the only thing you need to have a full binding marriage here in Bali!
Most people declare themselves Protestant when get married in Bali. Whether this is their true faith or not, it’s definitely one of the more straightforward options. Couples are required to file a “Notice of Intention to Marry” which is done at the Civil Registry Office of the region in which they are staying. It is a relatively straightforward bit of paperwork, and you’ll be required to hand it in alongside a “Certificate of Non-Impediment.” You’ll be able to obtain this from your home consulate or from an embassy in Indonesia, if you have one here. It may get a little tricky if you don’t.
Obtaining A Certificate Of Non-Impediment
If your home country does not have a consulate in Bali, you’ll have to obtain the document from an embassy in Jakarta. It’s only a one and a half hour plane right from Bali, so it’s not too time consuming, but it’s certainly not the most fuss-free procedure. Again, you’ll still have to be sure that your country has an embassy in Jakarta, but being Indonesia’s capital city, it most likely will.
The certificate can also be issued by local authorities in your home country. But you’ll have to plan this well in advance before your wedding. You wedding planner will be able to help you with the procedure to some extent, but it’s up to you to contact the relevant authorities, find out the timelines and plan accordingly. The following countries have consulates in Bali so you can arrange for a certificate here:
- New Zealand and several others
Botanica Weddings Is Here To Help
If this all sounds a little complicated - don’t fret. Contact Botanica Weddings today and we’ll assist you with the whole thing so you can have complete peace of mind. We’ve got a wealth of knowledge on the topic and certified celebrants who will hold a beautiful ceremony if you choose to have a non-legal ceremony.
We’ll ensure that the lead up to your Bali wedding is just as straight-forward as a wedding you'd have back home, which means ensuring that there are no problems or mistakes! The best way to start is to book in with one of our wedding experts for a no obligation call at a time that suits you, we can find out what you need and offer any help.