3 Ways to Marry in Ghana—Legally!

Are you thinking of  marrying in Ghana? Here are some tips to guide you. There are three legal forms of marriage in Ghana: the Customary, the Islamic and the Ordinance.

Customary marriage in Ghana is a kind of marriage between a man and a woman, and involves performance of certain local customs. There are as many variations of the custom as the ethnic groups there are in Ghana. Two things common to the various customs are: a gathering of the extended families of the couple; and payment of a bride-price to the bride’s parents.

Customary marriages are potentially polygynous: a man may have as many customary wives as he can, and there is no limit to the number of such marriages that can be legally registered under the Customary Marriage and Divorce Registration Law, 1985 (PNDCL 112).

Islamic marriage is a kind of marriage that is made in accordance with Islamic rules regarding marriage. Marriages made under Islamic law may be polygynous. A marriage made under Islamic rules must also be registered under the Marriages Act, in order to be valid.

The Registrar of Mohammedan marriages and divorces must be notified within one week of the marriage, or else the marriage will be declared null and void. However the Law provides for certain actions for instances where it is impossible for all the necessary parties to attend at the Registrar’s office within a week.

wedding-ringsOrdinance marriage or a marriage under the Marriage Ordinance is regulated by the Marriages Ordinance, 1884-1985, and it is strictly monogamous. One of the parties in the intended marriage must give notice of marriage to the Registrar Marriage of the district where the marriage will take place. The Registrar will publish notice of the intended marriage for twenty-one days and then issue a certificate if no objections are made against that marriage.

The couple now submit the registrar’s certificate to a licensed marriage officer to perform the marriage. Then the couple must marry within three months, otherwise, the Registrar’s certificate becomes invalid and a new one must be obtained. Now read the requirements for ordinance marriage in Ghana.

This is a straightforward overview of the legal types of marriage that exist in Ghana.

154 thoughts on “3 Ways to Marry in Ghana—Legally!

    1. No! A man who marries by ordinance cannot take another wife by any means as long as the one taken by ordinance has not been dissolved. If a man takes another wife whiles the ordinance marriage is still valid, he may have committed bigamy, a misdemeanour under the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29) of Ghana.

  1. My partner lives in Ghana; he is Norweigan and now live there. He ask me to marry him…But he was stay we can get married without me there. He went to the chief. Where he lives I need to find. It would cost a lot of money… Please would you help me.

    1. chloe.b, Why would you spend “a lot of money” to search for a man who has made a marriage proposition to you? Anyway, the sum of official fees for ordinance marriage for this year 2014, at the Accra marriage registry, is 46 Cedis only (that’s about US$15 or GB£12).

    1. Indeed, Christianity recognises customary marriage and therefore once it has been established that the customary rites have been performed, you can partake in communion

  2. Can a married Nigerian man marry another Nigerian woman under the Ghanaian law, either Islam or customary ?

  3. Please, when a customary marriage is contracted, can both families, on behalf of the couple, undertake the divorce process since the couple are in the States? If yes, what article or law can that be found?

  4. Hi There. Can a couple living in UK register their marriage through Ghana Ordinance marriage? If so, How do one go about it?

    1. Yes, they can, but the couple must be present in Ghana to do that. They must be present at the marriage registry or chapel to sign their marriage certificate.

  5. I want to ask whether it is necessary to marry under customary and then after, ordinance? Because it seems its the order of the day in Ghana.

    1. Fred, Thanks so much for your observation. Marriage contracted under any one of the three forms of marriage is sufficiently valid legally as marriage. It is not necessary to have a marriage by ordinance after a customary one. Although having a marriage by ordinance after a customary ceremony is common in Ghana, it is really not necessary to combine the two.

  6. If I am legally married in the United States to one wife but decide to transition my life to Ghana, can I then legally marry multiple wives under the customary marriage laws of Ghana?

    1. Sam, among all the customs in Ghana, the rites are performed for the woman and therefore if the German is the man, then yes it can be done, but if otherwise, then it’s not possible

  7. Can one have engagement and wedding on same day in Ghana? I was told there needs to be 21 days space between engagement and wedding.

    1. Alex, there are 21 days between filing a notice of marriage and issue of a registrar’s certificate at the marriage registry in Ghana. A registrar’s certificate gives a couple clearance to go on with marriage by ordinance or wedding. Now, if by ‘engagement’ you’re referring to Ghanaian customary marriage, (as some Ghanaian’s do) yes, one can have both on the same day.

  8. I’m married under the customary marriage law. Can I marry another under the ordinance or should I divorce first.

    1. William, you cannot have a marriage by ordinance with someone while you have any other form of marriage with another. If you did that you may have committed bigamy and it’s illegal under the marriage ordinance.

    2. George thank you. but what is the way forward because I don’t want to commit bigamy but I seriously want to divorce, what is the process under the customary marriage. can I marry another person under ordinance I have divorced my wife

  9. I started a customary marriage process unfortunately I couldn’t complete it and the woman deliver a baby for me. I decided not to go ahead with the marriage process again. That means I cancelled the marriage. I want to marry a different lady. What is the law position on that? Have I committed any crime?

  10. Hello, please where can I apply for a proof of singleness document in order for me to marry outside Ghana?
    I need location and process please, thank you.

  11. Please does the signing of the marriage certificate outside the registry invalidate the marriage. Which section of the law defines the location for signing of the certificate

  12. I found out my bf has a marriage certificate. But he lives in the USA. She lives in Ghana. He asked me to marry him. Would our marriage be legal

  13. We hv sepreted for 6yrs n we married under ordinance.we started process of dissolution n am pregnant with a diff. Woman. Can I perform the customary rite?

    1. No, the law forbids Nana Ama from entering into another marriage in any form as long as that dissolution mentioned is not complete. But it’s strange Nana Ama has says she is pregnant with another woman@**! Same sex marriage is not legal in Ghana.

  14. I met a woman here in the US and she is from Ghana , she says she is pregnant by me however is being very difficult with me and not letting me see her or see if she is really pregnant , now she is saying that she went to Ghana last month and got Married because if it got out that she was pregnant out of wedlock it would look bad to her family and her family is royalty ….If she is pregnant with my child i want to be in my child’s life ……WHAT DO I DO !? she is back here in the states now …do i have options?

  15. I have been married since 26/11/2014 by an Iranian Imam in Ghana . I didn’t register my marriage till today 25/6/2015. I want to register it now; what are the steps I should take . I’ve done it in the Islamic way. Thanks

    1. You may visit the marriage registry in your district and tell any senior officer that you want to register your Islamic marriage, and you’ll be asked to provide some information and directed what to do.
      If you live in Accra, you may go to the AMA Marriage Registry.

  16. My fiance went into a contract marriage with a white lady who came to Ghana. Now, we want to marry legally to cover shame (pregnancy), can we still marry legally?

    1. Customary marriage is different from marriage under the ordinance. You may have a traditional/customary marriage (what some call engagement), and register that customary marriage; or you may choose to have an ordinance marriage at the marriage registry or at the court; or by way of church wedding.

  17. do i have to look for a licensed marriage officer myself or one will be assigned to me after the certificate has been issued to me?

  18. does the licensed marriage officer seek for the approval of the partners’ parents concerns before officiating the marriage ceremony?

    1. It’s not a requirement, but those officiating at church weddings do seek the bride’s parents’ consent by asking “…Who gives out the lady’s hand in marriage?”

  19. I have been married for 2years I can’t find my marriage certificate. Can I be issued another one? And if I will. Pls what is the process.

  20. My husband filed for a visitors visa for his father,we put single on his application because we thought a customary marriage isn’t legal…was we wrong for thinking it’s not legal or is it not recognized?

    1. It’s no if your intention is to go for customary marriage registration. That must be done after the marriage customs are performed. It’s yes you may, if you intend to go for a ordnance marriage registration (court marriage) But you must know that you may have a valid marriage even if you have no engagement after that.

    1. John, it’s normal for couples in a customary marriage celebration to exchange rings. In fact, I know some people who have done so. But I haven’t seen where a bride is given two rings. I don’t know of any rules against your two rings proposition though. Go celebrate your love in style. All the best!

    1. No, Neil, you can’t. Any new marriage you may enter shall be invalid and you’ll be guilty of bigamy, unless you secure a valid judgement of divorce for your existing marriage.

  21. George, is a person considered married under the ordinance marriage if the gathering took place at a home, (there were no Minister or Registrar present and no vows exchanged)? She paid someone to have the marriage registered, but no one officiated over it (no ceremony) or vows exchanged. Is the marriage considered legal regardless?

    1. Hi Sarah, how could he do that? But the info you gave is too little for a good answer. So go speak with a lawyer. Have you tried to resolve the issue at the family level?

  22. My boyfriend and I intend getting married next year. He prefers a customary marriage which I have agreed to. But the problem is, he won’t register the marriage not until after 5yrs of marriage due to his past experience. My question is, will our marriage still be valid even without it being registered???

    1. Hi Abena, no, such a marriage may not be valid until it’s registered. You also have little legal protection under the arrangement your boyfriend has proposed.

    2. Abena, no, such a marriage may not be valid until it’s registered. You also have little legal protection under the arrangement your boyfriend has proposed.

  23. Can I marry a woman in Ghana if I’m not in the country at the time of the ceremony?.its kind of a rush ceremony. For financial reasons.?

  24. Hi George,

    I’ve similar question than Jim. Can I marry a man, who is working in Ghana if I’m not there. We’re both living in UK , also we have different nationality. Is it possible? Which one is the best for us? I don’t really understand the costumary marriage. We would like to do this as soon as possible.
    Thank you for your help

  25. Bene please we got married under customary, for some period my husband travel to abroad. and now we want to register and have certificate so that i can visit him there please what should i do whiles he is not in Ghana now? due to financial issues.

  26. Hello,

    Thank you for your posts. Really appreciate your patience in answering the questions asked.
    Pls I’d like to know the following;
    1. Where do I locate the marriage registry in Accra?
    2. I will be undertaking an Islamic marriage. What are the requirements, the process, etc. And is it any different if the man is a foreigner? What other requirements are needed.

    Kind regards

    1. There are a number of marriage registries in the city : The Registrar General’s Dept., AMA Head Office, Madina Circuit Court, LEKMA.

  27. Hi me and my partner wants to get married but we live in the UK and he’s not legal here am I able to get a marriage by proxy in Ghana because he can not travel.

  28. My fiancé and I want to get married this year, but he’s under contract marriage, can we perform the engagement and register it and perform white wedding I church without registering until his contract is finalized?

  29. My fiancé and I live in the state , we want to perform both traditional and white wedding but we want to register it in the state, is it possible?

    1. Hi Margaret, I don’t have the fee for Ordinance Marriage in Kumasi now. But the fee at A.M.A. Accra, this year is 220 Gh cedis, equivalent to $58 at today’s forex rate.

    2. Hi Margaret, I don’t have the fee for Ordinance Marriage in Kumasi now. But the fee at A.M.A. Accra, this year is 220 Gh cedis, equivalent to $58 at today’s forex rate. I expect that the fee in Kumasi is not more than $58

  30. We’ve been married for 2 years now,customary marriage and not registered, and have a son. The marriage came as a result of pregnancy, I really don’t want to continue the marriage, because am not happy and I don’t love this lady. What’s the legal implication?
    Do I need to pay compensations, if yes how much?
    What about my son?
    I really need your help. Thank you

    1. Dada, you appear to be in a difficult situation; please, you have to speak with a lawyer. Or you may like to speak first with an elder you can trust in your family, for advice.

  31. My fiancé lives in UK he is a divorced man can we married again in court or its not right please how long will it take to do court wedding please I need to know ..thanks

  32. Hi my name is Joe & I’ve just recently dated a young lady on one of dating site, am 56yrs old & she’s 38yrs old, after a few messages she’s asked me to marry her & then within 3weeks asked me for some money, I felt sorry for sent her some but then she said that she is my wife now & I her husband after a while she wants me to visit her in Accra & for me to ask her hand in marriage after talking to her every day now since November & we have got close but now she said that the elders have asked for me to bring £5000.00 to marry her but I feel that this could be a bit extorting money from me as I have no idea of there custom please can you explain if this right or wrong. She intends to marry me hear in the uk & also come back with me, she’s asking for £1000.00 now before I see hear in February this year. We have only known she other for 2months & am worried that her family are talking advantage of my generosity. Please advise thank you

  33. I got married customarily. My husband went to A.M.A to register; we later got married at church, did the whole ceremony thing. Does it mean we are registered in the system in Ghana or we need to go to Registrar General to register? Pls help! I’m confused, a friend said the US did not accept his marriage certificate that was given to them at church or a.m.a.. what shows

    1. I know the procedure at AMA very well, and I should expect that you’ll not have any problem with your registration if you followed the procedures. Secondly, a certificate issued by your church is not a valid certificate of marriage, unless it is the legitimate one issued on behalf of the Registrar General by a church duly registered as a place for celebrating marriages.

    1. You or your partner must be in the country 15 days, at least, for you to qualify to obtain the Registrar’s certificate to marry.

  34. Good evening George my name is Dee I am from the United States my fiance lives in Ghana what are ceremony would be legal here in the US considering we’re going to file for him to come to the u.s. with me thank you very much for your time

  35. Hi my name is Sarah my fiance lives in Ghana but want me to marry him there and then register for him to come afterwards, should I marry him customary or ordinance, please help. With customary can he Mary more women while married to me.

    1. I think you should choose ordinance marriage. You’re right, with Customary, he can marry more women legally, while he’s still married to you.

  36. Good day please am in a complex situation could help me ,am a Cameroonian, based in paris and want to get married to a Ghanaian based in uk he said for things to be easy for us we need to go for the customary marriage (proxy marriage) I don’t know much about that cause it is not common in my country but later agreed , my main problem is the certificate came in with a lots of errors on the dates
    Names etc which am very much not comfortable with it cause I don’t think it is genuine please I wish to know if it is possible to rectify the errors and how can I find out the certificate was truly regustered

    1. To verify if marriage is registered you request a search and confirmation at the marriage registry.

    1. It’ not difficult if the error is administrative, but for names and dates, that suggests factual errors. Please speak with a lawyer for advice.

  37. Was a marriage by proxy and almost all the spelling were wrong in stead for them to type 2016 it’s 2916 and it has being registered so wondering we can go back for them to rectify it

  38. A man from Ghana is in the U.S. He wants to date me but I want to know if he is married in Ghana in anyway. How do I find out ?

  39. I am an us woman that .lives in the united States. I met my fiance online over a year ago. We communicate daily and video chat alot. He wants to come here and get married. What is the best way of going by doing this please

  40. Hi George, please how long can the white or church wedding be done after the customary marriage? Thank you

    1. You decide when you want to have your wedding after a customary marriage.
      But once you file a notice of marriage, you’ll be compelled to have the wedding within a number of months.

  41. am a boy of 25 years old from nigeria i live in ghana i need a woman for a serious relationship that will leads to marriage anyone interested should contact me 0269576318

  42. Hello, i got married under the church ordinace n we have been separated for over 3 years now. I want to move on so initiated a divorce process but the man doesn’t want to grant the divorce. Is there a provision in the law that allows me to re-marry? Thank u

    1. Kukua, you can re-marry only when you obtain a valid judgement of divorce from the Court. So go speak with a lawyer?

  43. Mr Agboklu please i will like to talk to you personally about an issue concerning marriage, its confidential but i can disclose it to you. Can i please get your contact? That’s mine 0549281240. Thank you

  44. Have the fees to get married changed since 2014 e.g. $15usd and are there any other filing fees for legal notice. and thank you for posting comments and answers

  45. Hi I have a big problem and I would like ur advice. Am jamaican and my partner is Ghanaian we been together for almost a year now we both live in the UK but he doesn’t have his papers and I have 10 year route visa. We want to get married so we have been talking about a proxy marriage the only this is we don’t know the process of doing a proxy marriage can u pls tell me what is the best way to go about doing this.

  46. Hello, am a Ghanaian my guy from from German wants to come down to Ghana to marry what are the document required for this marriage? Any help!

  47. Hello, am from Ghana and my lady is from U S and want to get married. My question is she can not come to Ghana for marriage rite can she send some one to do it on her behalf and sign the marriage license as well. Thank you.

  48. If you travel to usa for 2yrs,married under the ordinance for 13 yrs and upon returning your husband don’t you to come to the house both were married.what should I do

  49. Good evening
    Please can a customary marriage certified by the consolat from the ministry of foreign affairs and rural development and the chief justice office been used to travel to Europe.

    Regards
    Edward

  50. Can one remarry when the wife packed out of her matrimonial home about 8years ago and out of the 8years he has not set eyes on the wife effort is made to call the woman to go to court and desolve the marriage but she is proven storbon. Kwaku

  51. Hello does it mean with ordinance marriage the man does not pay any amount to the woman’s family? Like bride price or something like that

  52. I live in the Unites States and I want to marriage someone on Ghana west Africa what do I need to do to stay the paper work

  53. Hi George,
    I got married under customary law and got a certificate. I got the green certificate from my pastor with the licence gazetted but i did not go to the AMA to do anything. My pastor did all the process is it legal.

  54. hello. please i have a question. can a licensed Registrar of any municipal assembly follow a couple up to their church hall that has not been gazetted to perform vows for them on their wedding day?

  55. Hello pls can I marry the same person twice under the ordinance marriage?if no what offense will I be charged for.thank u.

  56. Hello George, please can I marry the same person twice under the marriage by ordinance? If no, what charged can be levelled against me? Thank you

  57. Hello, pls if a registrar officiates a marriage outside the courtroom, or marriage hall , is the marriage and certificate valid and legal?

  58. George I need your HELP, am I being scammed??? I am engaged to a man I met over the internet. He and I are to be married in what he describes as follows: his sister said if we are coming to marry she will come from Saudi Arabia to support me and make me look like a Queen. First, he said he had to submit his resignation to get ready to marry a woman outside Ghana as he is a military soldier for the Ghanaian Army. He then told me how you marry in Ghana as follows: (These are his exact words): Yes small one or two people, Am the man from Ghana northern part, I have seen a woman l want to marry her, I have to go to woman’s family ask her in married, If her family father mother agree then l will come take my family to go with me to marry her. Since your family are far, you the woman is coming to me, Together to marry, so I will let, Our culturally I will invite my mum,father sister to come then thy hold my hand unto your hand then we are married couple. After then we will buy a ring and wear our selves. This is our cultural. Then he goes on to say; there is something you will do and l will do before we marry yes, it a tradition my northern cultural in marriage. Because your coming, you will bye guineafowl,cola nut,one cloth,for mum,one cloth for dad, Millet drink call pito,one gallon, no money will be add oky no money oky. It will be done before u come or inter the family yes. He goes on to say, ours are cheap than others yes so simple nice. Then, atlas he says, you will bye one cloth for my elders sister,yes,that is all. Is not costly things, Okay. Please bear with me, is because you are coming into my family that is why you are spending small, but l am coming to your family you won’t spend anything so understand me okay. Is there anything to this at all? If so, is it legal? HELP?

    Please do not use my name. Thank you

    1. Normally, it’s the groom who pays a bride price in Ghanaian customary marriages. If you could tell me the Town or ethnic group he comes from, I may find a thing or two out for you. There risk of being scammed is real and pretty high if you met over the internet. But I know a couple (American lady and a Ghanaian man) who met online and married successfully in a Ghanaian Law Court.

  59. Hello my name is plachette! I am an american woman that is engaged to a Ghanaian man I have a question. So just to be clear, it takes 21 days to get a registrar certificate? If so in that time i will be going back to the US until after the 21 days is over. After i will then come back to get married. Do happen to know how long the process will take for my fiancee to rightfully be able to come to the US after we are married?

  60. Hi, I did a customary marriage then after I went through e ordnance too….now we have been separated for 3 years now . I sent his drink back to his people breaking the customary marriage but have not yet gone for the dissolution of the ordnance marriage. ..does the marriage still holds? Can I re marry..Phyllis

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