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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Marimba

Marriage Process in Kenya

Updated: Aug 12, 2021

Marriage is an integral part of the relationships formed between individuals in a society. In Kenya, the process of marriage is governed by the Marriage Act of 2014. This Act provides a detailed breakdown of the marriage process. This Act governs the three types of marriage processes in Kenya; Traditional or Customary marriage, Religious marriage or Civil marriage. In the following part, we will provide a detailed and easily understandable breakdown of the process of marriage.

Step 1: Fulfill the Requirements of a Valid Marriage

Section 3 to 5 of the Marriage Act set out the different requirements for a union to be considered a marriage in Kenya. The first is that it must meet the definition of marriage which Section 3 defines as a union between a man and woman, be it monogamous or polygamous. There is also a minimum age requirement which is set out in Section 4 as 18 years, which means that an individual must be at least 18 years to get married. Lastly, Section 5 states that the marriage must be witnessed by two witnesses for it to be valid. These witnesses must be at least 18 years of age, not suffering from any mental instability or intoxication, must be capable of understanding what is being said and cannot be one of the parties celebrating the marriage.

Step 2: File a Notice or Special License

Once you have fulfilled the requirements for a valid marriage, the next step is to file a notice of marriage. This notice should be filed with the Registrar of Marriages and has a 21 day waiting period. The parties must both be Kenyans and must celebrate the marriage within 3 days from the issuance of the Notice.

Have a look at Office of the Attorney General under Ecitizen to file the related information

Where individuals cannot file a notice, they can apply for a special licence provided under Section 33 of the Marriage Act. Applicants must provide sufficient reason for their inability to file a notice and should provide the relevant documentation as evidence. This application can be made for Civil, Christian, Hindu marriages where one or both parties are foreign nationals or if the marriage ceremony is taking place in a garden, hotel or other location outside a place of worship. When applying, parties are required to come with the relevant documents such as IDs or National Identity Card or Passport, Death Certificate or Divorce Decree where applicable, copy of a birth certificate, a coloured passport size photo, copy of the license of the minister of faith, completed application form and the serial number of the marriage book to be used. Where the marriage is taking place in a place of worship, the applicants will be required to pay a fee of Kshs 7200/=, while if it is not in a place of worship parties will pay a fee of Kshs 14,200/= . For a Civil marriage, the marriage must be celebrated within 14 days from the date of approval, while for Christian and Hindu marriages, the marriage should be conducted within 3 days from the date of approval. Additionally, parties must be residents of Kenya from at least seven days preceding the application.

Step 3: Obtain a Marriage Certificate

A Marriage Certificate is a requirement for any marriage to be considered valid under the Marriage Act. It is issued by the Registrar of Marriages and is used as verification of a Civil, Christian, Hindu or Traditional marriage. To obtain a marriage certificate, individuals are required to fill the online application form, ID, passport photo and a Divorce Decree or Death Certificate where applicable. The marriage must take place within three months after the application is made.

Regarding Religious marriages, individuals will be charged a fee of Kshs 1400/= if it takes place in a place of worship while if it is done outside a place of worship, individuals will be charged a fee of Kshs 7200/=. Persons who are getting married in a Civil marriage are required to pay a fee of between Kshs 3300- 3900/=. Customary or traditional marriages will require a fee of Kshs 3900/= to be paid to obtain a certificate.

In summary:

  1. Ensure you meet all of the requirements of marriage under the Act

  2. File a notice with the Registrar, or where you are unable to file a notice, procure a special license

  3. Obtain a marriage certificate

Disclaimer: This document is not to be taken as legal advise.

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