Are marriages solemnized online in the United States of America legally valid in Hong Kong?
Is a foreign marriage valid in Hong Kong? How about an online marriage celebrated in the US? If so, can you register your online marriage in Hong Kong?
Validity of foreign marriages in Hong Kong
Your online marriage which is celebrated in Utah is considered as marriage celebrated abroad or foreign marriage.
Generally, a marriage celebrated outside Hong Kong according to the law in force at the time and place where the marriage was performed is recognized as valid and similar to a marriage registered in Hong Kong.
It is not necessary for Hong Kong nationals to register his/her marriage celebrated abroad with the Registrar of Marriages in Hong Kong.
However, if the couple will have a dispute in Hong Kong, the marriage may only be considered as a symbolic ceremony under Hong Kong Law. If the problem between a couple in terms of property, inheritance, insurance, child custody, and other family matters involved Hong Kong court, then the marriage celebrated abroad will be evaluated and the marriage must be essentially and formally valid according to Marriage Ordinance to further solve the issue.
Essential validity means that the couple had the capacity to marry (legal marrying age, single, no valid previous marriage) and they give consent to the marriage according to the law of the groom and bride’s residence before marriage.
If you are living in Hong Kong and intend to make Hong Kong your home residence, then your country of residency is Hong Kong. Accordingly, the essential validity of your marriage is governed by Hong Kong law.
For a marriage to be essentially valid under Hong Kong law you and your spouse must consent to marry, be of legal age to give full and free consent (i.e. at least 16 years old). The groom and the bride must have no existing marriage and cannot be closely related to each other.
Formal validity means that the marriage was performed in accordance with the law of the country where it was celebrated. Failure to follow the formalities of marriage applicable in the country of celebration will result in the nullity of marriage. Formalities of marriage change significantly among countries.
Do you need to register your foreign or online marriage in Hong Kong?
You are only required to register your marriage in Hong Kong with the Registrar of Marriages if you got married in Hong Kong.
A foreign marriage celebrated outside Hong Kong in accordance with the law in force at the time and in the place where the marriage took place is generally recognized as valid and similar to a marriage registered in Hong Kong. This means that online marriage which is considered valid and legal in the US, which is the place where the marriage took place and accepted by US law, should be recognized in Hong Kong as a valid marriage.
It is not necessary to register overseas marriages or your online marriage with the Registrar of Marriages in Hong Kong when you live in Hong Kong. However, once a year when filing the tax declaration, citizens are asked to confirm their marital status.
For foreign nationals, if you come to Hong Kong single and later get married, all you need to do is to inform the Immigration Department of your change in marital status by filling in a Form ROP 18, which can be downloaded through the following link: http://www.immd.gov.hk/pdforms/rop18.pdf
While we guarantee that online marriage is legal according to the laws in the US, it is not certain that the Civil Registry and Immigration Services of your home country will recognize such union as valid. They may require further verification and additional documents, if deemed necessary.
Disclaimer: This article is general in nature and is not intended to be relied on as legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the subject in this article.