Will the Canadian government recognize my foreign marriage?

Generally, your foreign marriage will be recognized by the Canadian government, if the marriage:

  • Is legal according to the laws of the place where it occurred; and
  • Complies with Canada's federal laws on marriage.

According to Canada's federal laws on marriage:

  • Close relatives by blood or adoption (grandparent-grandchild, parent-child, brothers-sisters) cannot marry each other.
  • You can be married to only 1 person at a time.

You can find more information about how Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) evaluates foreign marriages in sections 5.27-5.32 of OP 2 - Processing Members of the Family Class [PDF].

If there is any doubt as to whether your marriage is legal in the place where it occurred, it is your responsibility to prove that it is legal in that place.

If your marriage is illegal where it occurred, or if the laws of that place do not allow you to get married (for example, you are in a same-sex relationship and your country of origin does not allow same-sex marriage), CIC will not recognize your relationship as a marriage.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada might recognize your relationship as a common-law or conjugal relationship for sponsorship purposes.

If your marriage meets the requirements above, and you want to sponsor your spouse for immigration, your spouse must be at least 18 years old at the time that you apply to sponsor him or her.

For More Information

  • Getting Married - Information about marriage licences, marriage certificates and more from the Government of Ontario.
  • Sponsoring Your Family - General information about sponsoring a spouse, common-law or conjugal partner to immigrate to Canada. From Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
  • Planning Your Shared Future - Tips and information about financial planning and managing your money with a spouse. From the Investor Education Fund.
  • CIC Help Centre - A tool that helps answer frequently asked questions on immigration matters. It offers several ways of searching through the information available, including search by keyword. From Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Last updated: August 17, 2015 4001020