Everything you need to know about marriage in the Turks and Caicos Islands

25 Aug 2023·20 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in the Turks and Caicos Islands 01

The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory famous for their pristine beaches and exquisite natural attractions. The territory is an archipelago of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, southeast of the Bahamas. Every year, hundreds of marriages are performed by Turks and Caicos Islanders and foreigners from other countries. In the Turks and Caicos Islands, there are two types of legal marriages: religious and civil marriages. Religious marriages are performed by authorized religious officials, such as a minister or priest, whereas civil marriages are performed by government officials, such as a registrar or justice of the peace. Both types of marriages require a marriage license to be obtained prior to the ceremony. You will find out more about the process of obtaining a marriage license and certificate later in the article. 

The Turks and Caicos Islands are a popular spot for destination weddings. The islands offer beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and picturesque landscapes, making them the perfect setting for a romantic wedding. The territory allows couples from all over the world to have unforgettable wedding and honeymoon experiences. Couples may decide to legally register their marriage in the territory in a civil wedding ceremony before performing other traditional and symbolic ceremonies. Other foreign couples may decide to perform the legalities of their marriage in their home country, including the registration and marriage certificate. 

This will give the couple the opportunity to have a memorable, symbolic wedding in any location of their choice in the country without having to worry about the legal validity of such a marriage. In symbolic weddings, couples may also choose from a range of themes, such as a traditional Caribbean style or a bohemian style. Many resorts and hotels on the islands also offer symbolic wedding packages that include a ceremony, a reception, and other extras like photography or live music. As you read on, you will find out more about the types of marriages in the territory as well as the laws and rights governing their practices. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages 

To be legally married in the Turks and Caicos Islands, both spouses must ensure their marriage is registered in a civil ceremony. Civil marriages are performed by state-authorized marriage officers and registrars in a civil registry. There are various requirements and conditions that must be met by both foreign and native Turks and Caicos Islanders before they are allowed to contract a marriage in the territory. To begin the marriage application and registration process, both partners must obtain an application from the registrar. The form must be filled out by the spouses with their complete and correct information. Upon the completion of the form, the registrar will present the documents that must be submitted by both partners during the registration. The marriage registrar will also make public the intention of both partners to marry in the country.

There is generally no waiting period; however, the registrar will be on the lookout to ensure the marriage is free of impediments. The marriage license obtained will be valid for three months. The actual marriage must be contracted within this timeframe. In the event that the partners are unable to marry within three months of obtaining a marriage license, the marriage process must be restarted. The minimum marriage age in the Turks and Caicos Islands is 21 years old for both male and female spouses. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Spouses who are 18 or 19 years old may be allowed to marry with the written consent of both parents or legal guardians. If one or both parents or legal guardians are deceased or unable to give consent, a court order may be required. 

Both spouses will be required to provide identification, which must be issued in the territory or the home country of the foreign spouse. Foreigners who wish to get married in the Turks and Caicos Islands must ensure all the documents are provided in English, as this is the official language of the country. The documents must be translated by an accredited translator, and they must also include an apostille that proves their validity. To register a marriage, both partners must give their free consent and be unrelated. Civil marriage ceremonies usually take about 20 to 30 minutes. After the ceremony is completed, the marriage officer will register it in the record book and issue a marriage certificate to the couple, which holds international validity. The documents that must be submitted by both spouses are stated below.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification
  • Original birth certificates of both spouses
  • Proof of residence in the territory for at least 24 hours must be submitted by foreign spouses.
  • Both partners must provide proof of their marital status as evidence that they were single prior to the marriage.
  • Affidavit of single status obtained from the foreign spouse’s home country
  • Divorce or death certificate. Either of these documents must be provided by previously married spouses. The certificates may either be an original or a notarized copy sealed by a court clerk.
  • Written parental consent for spouses under the age of 21
  • A deed poll must be provided by partners who changed their names prior to the marriage.

Religious marriages 

In Turks and Caicos, a lot of marriages are performed by ministers of religion. The majority of the population is Christian, with over 70 percent of the total population being Christians. The rest of the population includes Buddhists and those who practice folk religion or have no religious affiliation. As a result, the majority of marriages performed in the country are governed by Christian principles in the church. Some Turks and Caicos Islanders are perfect for mixing Christian marriage rites with those of the customs and traditions of their region or clan. 

The marriage ceremony is performed in the church by a priest, minister, or pastor, and it usually lasts for about two to three hours. The ceremony itself is typically conducted according to the customs and traditions of the specific church. This may include religious rituals, readings, and the exchange of vows. After the ceremony, the marriage officer will submit the marriage certificate to the Registrar General's Office to be registered. Couples will generally be required to obtain a marriage license before proceeding to get married in the church. This implies that all marriages must be registered before the church wedding takes place.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the Turks and Caicos Islands 02

Marriage traditions in the Turks and Caicos Islands

The Processional 

Church weddings in the Turks and Caicos Islands begin with a professional procession where all members of the wedding party enter the church in an organized manner before the guests settle in. The bride is walked down the aisle by her father, who then gives her hand to her husband-to-be. This custom represents the transfer of the bride's responsibility from her father to her groom.

Exchange of Vows

In Turks and Caicos Islanders' church weddings, it is customary for the bride and groom to exchange vows before they are pronounced husband and wife. The vows include beautiful messages and promises the partners make to each other to reinforce their love and commitment to the marriage.

First Dance 

The wedding reception in Turks and Caicos usually involves a lot of ceremonial rites. In the first dance, the guests cheer the newlyweds in to open the dance floor while dancing and singing. The couple will be required to dance in the middle of a large circle formed by the guests at the reception. This is usually a fun part of the ceremony.

Same-sex marriages 

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, homosexuality and same-sex sexual activity have been legal since 2001. However, the territory does not recognize same-sex relationships such as unions, partnerships, and marriages. Even though same-sex sexual activities hold legal status in the territory, members of the LGBT community still face various legal challenges that are not experienced by others. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is banned in Turks and Caicos, but same-sex couples are not entitled to marriage benefits in the territory.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in Turks and Caicos. The laws of the territory conform with those of the United Kingdom, which do not allow marriages between multiple spouses. The Matrimonial Causes Ordinance of the Turks and Caicos Islands only recognizes monogamous marriages between two consenting adults. If a spouse enters into a polygamous marriage or any cohabitation with more than one partner, it will be considered a criminal offense and may lead to prosecution under the law.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the Turks and Caicos IslandsMarriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

There are three types of marital unions that are recognized as being legally binding in the Turks and Caicos Islands: civil marriage, religious marriage, and customary marriage. These forms of marital unions are all governed by the Marriage Act of 1971. Anyone who wishes to be married must ensure that all the rules and laws encoded in the Marriage Act are adhered to before marriage can take place. The law states that anyone who wishes to be married without having to fulfill the requirements of providing parental consent must be at least 18 years old. Underage marriages are allowed, but the concerned parties are required to submit written parental consent to the civil registry. In the absence of parental consent, the couple must present written permission from a legal guardian or obtain a court ruling. 

Under this law, both parties must provide proof of identity and citizenship, in the form of national identity cards, both birth certificates and passports, etc. For anyone to be legally married under civil laws, the husband and wife are required to be single at the time of marriage. If either party has been previously married, they must provide proof of the dissolution of that marriage. In the case of divorce, a divorce certificate is applicable, while in the case of widowhood, a certificate of death of the former spouse is applicable. The marriage ceremony must be performed by a marriage officer who is legally authorized by the government of the British overseas territory. The groom and bride must ensure that the notice of intention to marry is submitted to the marriage officer at least one month before the ceremony. 

The ceremony must take place in the presence of at least two witnesses who must be at least 18 years of age and have valid identification documents. Under the Marriage Act, religious marriages are recognized as legally binding, but they must be performed by an authorized religious official. The Marriage Act of 1971 specifies that religious marriages must be conducted by a minister of religion who is registered with the government or by a religious official who is authorized to perform marriages by the governing body of the religion. Polygamous marriage is not permitted in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The groom and bride are not allowed to marry more than one person at the same time. In the same vein, couples must not be related to one another. They must not share a common ancestral link.

Rights

Marriage rights in the Turks and Caicos Islands are also codified in the Marriage Act of 1981. Couples enjoy equal rights in marriage. They enjoy the right to live together, work, own property and assets, etc. Couples enjoy the right to freedom of movement and speech. Neither the husband nor the wife has to obtain permission from one another before they move around or track events outside the country. Spouses have the right to express their thoughts and feelings towards one another through words without facing any restrictions. 

Among the many rights available to couples in Turks and Caicos, married couples enjoy parental rights over their children. They have equal rights to legal guardianship and the right to exert parental authority over the children when necessary. These parental rights are a lifelong commitment for couples until the children come of age and are able to make decisions on their own. Couples have the right to own, use, and manage property as they wish, regardless of the marital regime of property chosen at the time of marriage. The husband and wife have the right to participate in economic and financial activities without any restrictions. They have the right to open bank accounts, make investments, and even obtain credits without having to seek permission from one another. 

As a family, the husband and wife have the right to file joint taxes as a unit, unlike unmarried Men and women who have to file taxes separately According to the marriage act, either party can initiate divorce proceedings based on the grounds of adultery, imprisonment, desertion, cruelty, or based on the couple's mutual agreement. Both parties in a marriage also have the right to seek a legal separation if they are unable to reconcile their differences. This allows them to live separately while remaining legally married.

Costs

The cost of getting married in the Turks and Caicos Islands is relative to the type of marriage ceremony the couple decides to have. To have a civil wedding, couples should expect to spend around $100 for the marriage license fee and approximately $200 to $500 for the marriage officiant fee. Couples who wish to have a wedding reception should expect to spend more, as the cost of renting a wedding venue is estimated to be anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 per day. 

This cost depends on the location of the venue, the reputation of the venue, and the time of the year. Couples may enjoy lower rates if the wedding is not celebrated during the wedding season. Catering for guests should cost between $50 and $150. Therefore, couples who have a long list of guests should expect to spend a lot.

Duties

The household duties and responsibilities of couples in the Turks and Caicos Islands are equally distributed and have the same level of importance. The husband and wife have different yet similar duties to carry out in the home in order to ensure the smooth running of the family. One of the duties of couples in marriage is to jointly contribute to the wellbeing and welfare of the family according to their means. The husband and wife are both responsible for the upkeep and wellbeing of the children in a marriage. 

They are tasked with the responsibility of providing a good and proper educational upbringing for the children as well as instilling good morals in them. The couple is responsible for providing a safe and conducive environment for the children to grow and develop. Among all these duties, couples also have duties and responsibilities to one another. They have a duty to love one another, to protect and be faithful to one another, to be committed to the marriage, to respect each other's opinions and beliefs, and to ensure that there is no extramarital affair.

In Summary 

The Turks and Caicos Islands are one of the most popular spots for destination weddings in the world. Many resorts and hotels on the islands offer wedding packages that include everything from the ceremony and reception to the honeymoon. Couples can choose from a variety of venues, including beachfront locations, gardens, and ballrooms.

The territory allows couples to perform both legal and non-legal ceremonies. There are no strict residency requirements in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Spouses from other foreign countries may conclude their whole marriage procedure within three days of their arrival in the territory. We hope this article has helped you fully understand everything you need to know about marriage in Turks and Caicos.

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