The Marriage Act under the provision of Section 30(1) states that “every Registrar of Marriage is obliged to keep in his office a Marriage Register Book in which every certificate of marriage is filed in his office shall be registered”. This means that the Registrar or a clergyman whose church has been duly licensed by the Federal Government to perform wedding services under the Act is charged with the responsibility of keeping records and copy of every marriage certificate of statutory marriages conducted.

Verification of a marriage certificate in Nigeria is simply the process of investigating the authenticity of claims made by individuals of their marital status. There has been a rising need to verify marriage certificates presented for various reasons such as the alarming rate of forgery of such document, the need to submit such document during a visa application or to collect benefits.

A Marriage Certificate is an official document that evidences that a statutory marriage was conducted between two people and like any other valid certificate, it can be verified to confirm its authenticity to the party seeking such a verification.

Who can verify a Marriage Certificate?

The interested participants in the verification of a marriage certificate procedure can be either of the following parties;

  • The applicant’s i.e. the married couple, either the husband or wife.
  • The authorities of a foreign country or embassy.
  • Nigerian authorities or institutions that establish the authenticity of the claims from available records.

How to verify a marriage certificate

To verify a marriage certificate in Nigeria, one may employ the services of a legal practitioner to investigate the veracity of the claims of marriage or do it himself or herself.  The legal practitioner investigating must visit the place where the marriage certificate was issued and conduct a search on the marriage register kept there, upon that process the marriage certificate may be confirmed and certified as authentic by the issuing authority. It may be declared as a fake if the designated registry does not possess such a record of marriage.

A Marriage Certificate is issued by a government official of the federal marriage registry or local government registry after a statutory marriage has been conducted. The certificate can also be issued by a licensed place of worship.

Requirements to verify a marriage certificate

The only requirement to verify a marriage certificate is the copy of the certificate itself.

If the party seeking such a verification does not have the copy of the marriage certificate, the person must provide details such names of the parties to the marriage; date of the marriage and the marriage registry.

Finally, the best place to verify the authenticity of a marriage is the marriage registry where such a marriage is conducted. However, the Federal Government is also working to harmonize all marriage registries in order to list all marriages conducted in Nigeria to single database for easy verification. Howbeit, the official document that can evidence such a verification, which is the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the marriage can only be collected at the registry where the marriage was conducted or recorded.


By Family Law Section at Resolution Law Firm