The Requirements for Ordinance Marriage in Ghana

The requirements for ordinance marriage in Ghana are quite simple. It is an inexpensive or a very affordable way to marry. First, this form of marriage is made between a man and a woman only. The partners must be 18 years or older and none of the two entering into a marriage by ordinance shall be in any form of marriage with any other person(s). But, there is an exception where the two partners are already married to each other in a customary marriage.ordinance-marriage-ghana

This marriage process is one of the institutions we inherited from British colonial administration and still hold on to. It has two main stages, and they are:

  1. Filing a Notice of Marriage and Issue of Registrar’s Certificate,
  2. The Marriage Ceremony.

Some fees are charged at each of the stages.

Filing a Notice of Marriage

Each partner shall provide certain personal information to the registrar of marriages. They are:

  1. Name:
  2. Age:
  3. Profession/Occupation
  4. House number (residential address)
  5. Father’s name
  6. Father’s profession/Occupation
  7. Condition (Status of registrants: Single, Divorced, or in Customary Marriage)
  8. Phone number:

The Registrar’s Certificate

A registrar’s certificate to marry is issued to the partners after 21 days of filing the a notice of marriage and nobody raises any valid objection against the proposed marriage. After they have received the registrar’s certificate, the couple must go through the marriage ceremony within three months, otherwise the certificate becomes void.

The Ordinance Marriage Ceremony & Certificate of Marriage

In a quick ceremony at the marriage registry, a registered officer officiates, leads the partners make solemn declarations and exchange rings and sign the marriage register. After all that a certificate of marriage is presented to the couple and pronounced and husband wife.

Alternatively, the partners may present the registrar’s certificate to a registered chaplain to officiate the marriage ceremony at a registered place of marriage.

Finally, the couple must consummate the marriage. That is, they must make the marriage complete by having sexual intercourse.

That’s all!

113 thoughts on “The Requirements for Ordinance Marriage in Ghana

  1. Is a marriage legal in Ghana if a registrar’s certificate is not issued or a certified official does not preform the marriage ceremony? Please send an answer to b_johnsonsr@msn.com ASAP so that I may avoid making a mistake! Thanks!

    1. The requirements you’ve stated above apply to marriage under ordinance, but not customary marriage or Islamic marriage that must follow their own procedures.

  2. Does a certified official have to perform the ceremony for the ordinance marriage for it to be legal under Ghana’s law…..or can anyone do it? Or does there even have to be a ceremony at all?

    1. Only a certified or gazetted official is supposed to issue the certificate otherwise it is invalid.
      And there has to be a ceremony whether simple or extravagant at a specified location which has to be recorded on the register.
      Look at it this way, when the two parties meet, that is the ceremony.

  3. Does a certified official have to perform the ceremony for the ordinance marriage for it to be legal under Ghana’s law…..or can anyone do it? Or does there even have to be a ceremony at all?

    1. Johnson, It’s written under Section 42 of Ghana’s Marriage Ordinance that:
      A marriage shall be null and void if both parties knowingly and wilfully acquiesce in its celebration in any place other than the office of a registrar of marriages, or a licensed place of worship (except where authorised by the Principal Registrar’s licence),… or by a person not being recognised minister of some religious denomination or body, or a registrar of marriages.
      Does this answer your question satisfactorily?

  4. Am justice..am already married traditionally but did not register my marriage…
    Can i now marry another woman n do marriage by ordinance for her since i did not register the first one?

  5. I’m already married traditionally, but I’ve not registered my marriage. Can I have marriage under the ordinance for a second woman? What are the implications for my first wife?

    1. Nii, although you haven’t registered your first marriage which was contracted customarily, as you’ve mentioned here, the court may treat that marriage as valid when it is convinced by oral and documentary evidence that your first marriage was validly contracted according to custom. So if you went on to contract another marriage under ordinance whiles the first one subsists, you may have committed bigamy. The implications for your first wife? She may have to file bigamy charges against you, for you to be jailed.

  6. If in fact that did happen in the case of a friend of mine and the female has traveled to the United States as a married person, how do I advise my friend to correct the matter in accord with Ghana law, if in fact he is not really married to this person under Ghana law? Please advise ASAP!

  7. How do I go about getting an annulment of marriage in Ghana Africa in less than 10 days I was married on an ordinance please advise

    1. Hello George please I sent my marriage certificate to Ghanaian consulate in Nigeria and I think they lost it can I apply for a new one that can also be certified there??. Urgent reply please George. Thank you

  8. I have been talking to a woman in Ghana she supposed to been born in Italy anyway she is supposed to be working on the marriage certificate and get a flight here in the us ! What do I need to know and if this is legal? I’m not 100% sure I’m not being scammed?

  9. Can people who are not Ghanaian get married in Ghana? If possible
    We want the ordinance marriage.
    We don’t live in Ghana though.

    1. Sure, Non-Ghanaians can marry in Ghana, and yes, you can have ordinance marriage. However, at least, one of the parties to the marriage (or one of the partners) must be living in Ghana for some number of days (about 1 month), to obtain a Registrar’s Certificate. A couple can complete exchange marriage vows and sign the marriage certificate only after they obtain a Registrar’s Certificate.

  10. My gf is a foreigner and I’m Ghanaian; is it possible to make ordinance marriage less than a month, she cant stay in Ghana for long

    1. Yes, David. You can have ordinance marriage. Her presence is not required for the initial procedures of filing a notice and obtaining a Registrar’s Certificate. But she must be around for the marriage ceremony, to exchange the vows and sign the Marriage Certificate.

  11. Hello sir, George AgboKlu, have a great day to you, just want to ask sir, can we get our certificate of merriage for 1month? pls i am from philippines and my fiance from ghana. this year soon were traveld to ghana. pls need help. its is posible to have it? we have only 1month…chances…for busy life work in dubai….pls i need your help…tel me what we do….thanks…..JESSIE

  12. I have a question concerning the legality of a marriage. We are America, and we are in the country as missionaries. Our daughter that is 18 ran away from home and married a 23 year old Ghanian man against our wishes. We told him not to aid her and we did not want her to marry him. He went ahead and married her without our consent or our knowledge of the marriage. He had helped to hide her from us and lied about knowing where she is at. Is this marriage legal and is there anything we can do to annul it?

  13. Am Ghanaian, my fiancé is Nigerian but we live in the Uk, we want to come to Ghana and do a traditional marriage ceremony and a registry marriage but the time we have is limited, maximum 2 weeks due to work commitments. My question is can my father file in for the certificate on our behalf so we in Ghana in time to do the court wedding and traditional marriage ceremony???

    1. Hello. We are married outside of Ghana, I want to know if marriage outside of Ghana is honored by Ghanaian law as valid and legal. Or do we have to file some documents or do a wedding in Ghana for it to be recognized under Ghanaian law. Btw I am a foreigner and my husband is Ghanaian.

  14. Thanks for the info above – very helpful. Wondering, do you necessarily have to exchange rings during this ceremony? My partner and I thought to do that during the church wedding afterwards instead. Is that possible at all?

  15. My girlfriend and, we are preparing to marry this April. We could not do the marriage counselling @ her church for some personal reasons. We went for private cpunselling. Because we did not have the counselling @ her church, her church would not allow us to use their premise. We have gotten a church that is licensed to do marriage ceremony, but they are not willing to give us their marriage certificate since we don’t attend church there. We have done the initial licensing of marriage with AMA, for the 21 publication…. how do we get the marriage certificate for the wedding day pls?

    1. There’s an easy way out now that you’ve obtained the initial registrar’s certificate from AMA. You and your girlfriend may go to AMA again for a marriage and obtain the marriage certificate. With that you’re validly married. If you still want to have a church ceremony, you can still go on and have the pastor bless you.

  16. Hello sir, I have an American girlfriend who is coming down on the 2nd May,2016 for us to get married on the 5th of May,2016. We wish to do a small wedding at home and get it registered at the court. What procedure do we need to go through before we can get it registered. Thank you

  17. please my name is richard.i want to find out what are the process to go about when u have a foreigner girlfriend or boyfriend in getting married

  18. Hello Sir my girlfriend is coming from u s a to get married together what should we do before the marriage and for how long are we going to get our certificate

  19. Hello
    I would like to find out if it’s possible to marry under Ordinance and later have a traditional marriage

    1. Yes, you can have it that way. But you must know that after you ordinance marriage first, you’re married validly and no other customary ceremony may be necessary to as it were “validate” it.

  20. My husband married a foreigner in 2003 in court (in Ghana) and he married me in 2010 in the customarily.i didn’t know he had a wife until recently.what can I do?we have two kids.

    1. If you’re saying that the man was in another marriage (court wedding) and he married you, I think you should speak with a good lawyer for advice and possible legal actions.

    1. The difference is just the place/location, that is AMA and the court. In fact both perform the same types of marriage registrations.

  21. Hello George,

    I’ve been married to this man for 12yrs. I didn’t know he was married until after our customary marriage(engagement). Apparently, he had married the other woman in the customary way too. I traveled to have a baby and in my absence, he registered the other woman in the ordinance way.
    Is my marriage to this man valid at all after 4 kids with him?

    1. Adzo, although the law permits your husband to have as many wives as he can afford under customary law, he is not permitted to perform ordinance marriage with any of the wives or any other woman. If he did so, he would have committed bigamy, a misdemeanor.
      Your customary marriage may be valid still, but you have to speak with a lawyer, for help. Have you registered your customary marriage?

  22. George,

    Hmmm, I haven’t registered the customary marriage ooo. So can I still register it when he has registered the other woman in the ordinance way? I am the 2nd wife.

  23. Will do. Thank u George. This plateform u have created is very good. An eye opener for the naive and ignorant. Bless u. Can u recommend a good lawyer though? If not, u have done enough. Akpe.

  24. My fiance lives in Ghana and is from Ghana. He’s been to the registrars office in Sunyani to apply for our Ordinance Marriage License. They have told him that he can not apply until after I arrive. I’ll only be in Ghana for 19 days. How can he apply before I arrive so that our 21 day waiting period will be satisfied with time for us to get married during my 19 day trip. From what I read above this shouldn’t be a problem. What should he be saying to the person at the court house to be able to apply now, before I arrive? Traveling soon and need some advice. Thank you

    1. If proof of your consent is what the officer wants, he/she should just demand that. Sometimes officers demand a letter of consent and a photocopy of a page of the passport from the absentee partner as proof of consent.
      The marriage registration law doesn’t demand that though.

  25. Thank you for the quick response. I’m really hoping that he can get them to understand that he needs to apply before I arrive. Is there a place online to fine the guidelines so he can prove it to them if necessary?

    I’ve even tried to register online to apply for the license but the website seems to be having issues and won’t allow me to log in or send me a password reset etc. Uggh

    1. Congrats, Evelyn. Just go to the marriage registry in your Municipal or District Assembly office, file a notice of marriage, and exchange vows and sign your marriage certificate.

  26. I want to ask a question. I and my boyfriend are both students and above 18years…we both Christians and we don’t want to dishonour God by having sex before marriage. We made a decision to get married under the ordinance….and do the marriage ceremony after school and we both working. Is that possible? And how do we go about it?

    1. Lynn, you do not need another marriage ceremony after you marry under the ordinance. Just as you don’t want to dishonour God, you shouldn’t dishonour your parents too. You should tell them your decision.

  27. My wife and I happen to be married under the ordinance type of marriage, does her surname automatically changes to my surname

  28. I am having a girlfriend from Canada which we both living in Egypt currently.. But we planning to come to Ghana and get married officially and certified it..can we do this at any AMA office or its must be at the court.. We will finalize the marriage in Canada where her family stayed.. We just need the certificate for now!! Any advice or help?

    1. Mounir, you can get married officially and receive your certificate of marriage at the marriage registry at AMA Head Office, located near the Bank of Ghana.

  29. Hello George,
    I’m about to travel and I want to know if it is possible to get the certificate within two weeks time? Everything have been put in place for the marriage to be done.

  30. Hello George, please what is the address of the registry in Accra where one can file and also get married in? Urgent response needed please. Thank you

  31. Hello Geoge am Dela 28 ,married my fiancée who lives in the USA traditionally but now we want to register our marriage .i went to AMA to enquire about that and they said I need to register first for 21 days but my fiancée needs to be available but if she is not here in the country yet she needs to write a letter of CONCESSION LETTER to them before I can register .Our problem is we don’t know how such letters are written .Can you help us or refer us to someone to help us in writing such letter .Thanks

  32. Hi George, I’m Nana kwadwo. My fiancee and I want to do ordinance marriage before the customary. Is that possible? Thank you

  33. Hi sir , I am kojo , my girlfriend and I wanted to get marry by ordinance but my parents are not okay with it, they want traditional marriage and our pastors too say no. So what should we do advice needed urgently because thing are getting worse.

    1. Have the traditional marriage first, then you can do the ordinance marriage afterwards. That’s the usual trend. You can send me WhatsApp 0244790288

  34. Hi George. My boyfriend has been married to a woman by church wedding. But they currently going through a divorce. We are preparing to have an engagement ceremony very soon . Will that marriage with him be recognise by law?
    Can we aso register this marriage??

    1. Adwoa, if your boyfriend, before the supposed previous church wedding, had filed a notice of marriage, obtained a registrar’s certificate from the Registrar General’s Dept. or District Assembly, and then had proceeded to church with a bride and signed a certificate of marriage (white with a green band across) then, he may have done ordinance marriage. If that’s the case, he can marry you only after properly divorcing the wife. But if that church wedding didn’t meet the requirements and followed the procedures of ordinance marriage, your boyfriend may be able to marry you as you said, and may be able to register your marriage.

    1. Customary marriage is NOT precondition for ordinance marriage. Someone can marry under the ordinance without first having customary marriage

  35. Hi George. My beau and I would like to have an ordinance marriage, but would like to have it done at a non-registered location. I heard there is some sort of temporary permit for marrying at a non registered location valid for a day. We want to find out if there really is something like that and if there is, would you know the price range. But just knowing if it exists is still ok with us. From there we could go to the office to get more info on it. Thanks so much!

    1. My name is alicia and do you have to be divorced first to marry in ghana and what if your divorce papers doesnt come back on time to be married again

  36. Hi George, How do I find out the cost of the fees for 1) Filing a Notice of Marriage and 2) the Marriage Ceremony at the Registry?

  37. Hi George I be read a lot of your advices. I want to know the processes to go through to have an ordinance marriage and can it take place the same day as the traditional marriage. Tanzania alott

  38. Hello George, Can one have is marriage officiated by a registered official but in a different location preferred by the couple?

  39. Hello my name is Cindy,my question is my partner and I got married at the register office in Accra but there is a mistake on the marriage certificate , the type of residents at the time of marriage for my husband was made Accra and mine was made Italy , we live in Italy and he is an Italian and this mistake is going to cause problems for him if we don’t correct it .please can you tell us how we can go about it, cause we just flew back to Italy thank you

  40. Sir my question..im a Christian lady and he’s a Muslim guy…I think we are the most lovely couple on earth..yes we are…he wanted to be a Christian for me…but my family says no…his family supports him cos he is in love….we are planning if marrying in a court then leave Ghana…so can we marry without families getting to notice??

  41. good afternoon. please i am a married woman, who was married the customary way, and blessed at the church without going through the court. I will like to know the implications of this, and if I can still go through the ordinance marriage or the court

    1. If you mean you married in the customary way and blessed it in church, without filing a notice of marriage at the marriage registry at your District Assembly or the Registrar General’s Dept or the Court, and then you signed and are issued the Government Certificate of Marriage, your marriage is the customary type.
      It is legal but must be registered also. The implication is that your husband can still marry another woman, in fact, he may marry as many women as he can take good care of in addition to you.
      You can still go through the ordinance marriage if you are your husband’s only wife.

  42. Hello George, I have been cohabiting with my partner for a little over 10years now, I got to find out he performed something that looked like an engagement with another girl although no member of his family partook in the ceremony, I, my family and my pastor confronted him with regards to this issue, to which he denied any truth in that matter, he currently requested that we have our customary marriage, to which I refused,that I would not go through any ceremony other than the ordinance. I want to know if my marriage by ordinance to him will be possibly and what becomes of the relationship with the other lady.

  43. We had our customary marriage certificate in 2013 what should we do to get an ordinance certificate and how long would it take. And my wife is out of the country. Please help.

  44. Mr. George Agboklu,

    Please at what point can also couple who are married under customary marriage can they change their status to marriage under ordinance and what will be the procedure to follow?
    Thank you.

  45. Thanks for your article.

    I am a non-Ghanian citizen marrying a Ghanaian who lives in Kumasi but when I come for us to marry, I will be in Accra. Therefore we wanted to go to AMA not KMA. Will it be a problem, if him and I marry in Accra although he lives in Kumasi (regarding residential adress which needs to be mentioned when applying)?

    Thank you for helping.

  46. George :I am Canadian male born here: I have married a lady from Accra Ghana but was not present, She my wife now got the family Lawyers to get the certificate of marriage and then they the lawyer and my wife signed it is gave him permission to sign for me and then that day we got married the lawyer sent me a copy of the certificate which I have but my question is it legal? Sir I am going by what I have read on your Web site and from what I see it is I can probably send it to u but am not not sure if I know how on here …The certificate looks legal to me but not sure I love my new wife and she loves me and is going to come to Canada to be with me my question to u is, is the marriage legal, she my wife says it is and considers her self and me married

  47. George, I am planning to Marry in Ghana. My fiancé lives there currently. Do I have to be present when my fiancé files for the notice of marriage? I was going to travel to Ghana at the time we will marry. Thanks

    1. Angela, your fiance may file a notice of marriage even when you’re not here, but you must be present for the marriage ceremony.

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