What Should You Know About Marriage Laws in Malaysia


The Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act 1976 came in force on 1st March 1982 . From that date The Malaysian law only recognises civil marriages that are registered . This law is only applicable to non-Muslims. The purpose is to avoid cases of bigamy.


All customary or cultural marriages and other marriages conducted according to Chinese or Hindu rites before 1st March 21982 are legal marriages and are valid. {Section 4 of LRA} ..

After 1st March 1982 customary or cultural marriages and other marriages by Chinese or Hindu rites are only valid if REGISTERED

[Eg if A and B had a temple wedding in 1981, the marriage even if not registered is valid. If they had the temple wedding after 1.3.1982 and did not register the marriage, then the marriage is not valid].


(a) Age


Aged below 18, are not allowed to marry
Aged between 18 to 21 the parents must consent to the marriage
Aged 21 and above the consent of parent is not required


Aged below 16, are not allowed to marry
Aged between 16-18, the Chief Minister must consent to the marriage
Aged between 18 to 21 the parents must consent to the marriage
Aged 21 and above the consent of parent is not required

(b) Consent

Both parties must willingly consent to the marriage. It’s an offence to force or threaten someone to compel him/her to marry against his or her will. {Section 37 LRA}

Who can Consent

(i) father; or
(ii) If the father is dead, the mother; or
(iii) if the child is illegitimate, the mother; or
(iv) if the child is adopted, the adopted father;
(v) if the adopted father is dead, the adopted mother;
(vi) if both parents (whether natural or adopted) are dead, the legal guardian.

What to do when all the persons who could give consent are dead or unreasonably refuses to give consent:

The affected party may apply to court to get consent and such consent is valid for registration of a marriage.

The parties to a marriage have to make a statutory declaration under section 22(3) of the LRA stateing that the necessary consent has been obtained or dispensed with. A person who violates the provisions of section 12 would be guilty of an offence under section 38 of the LRA and shall be liable to on conviction to imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine not exceeding RM3,000.00 or both.


One cannot marry his or her

(a) grandparent, parent, child or grandchild, sister or brother, grand aunt or grand uncle, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, grand niece or grand nephew.

(b) grandparent or parent, child or grandchild of his or her spouse or former

(c) the former spouse of his or her grandparent or parent, child or grandchild.

(d) No person shall marry a person whom he or she has adopted or by whom he or she has been adopted.

Note: A Hindu may marry his sister's daughter (niece) or her mother's brother (uncle).


Any marriage where husband or wife merely went through a religious or customary ceremony before 1st march 1982 or legally registered after 1st march 1982 is valid. This means that if either party marries again (whether a customary marriage or legal registration), he/she would be committing bigamy, which is punishable under the Penal Code.


A. Marriage solemnised upon issuance of a certificate for marriage by the Registration Department (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara)

(i) Notice of marriage

a. obtain a form from the National Registration Department in the district where couple have been living 7 days prior to that date.

b. sign the form and a statutory declaration stating that they are above the age of 21; whether widower or widow; if below the age of 21, the appropriate consent has been obtained.

c. submit to the Registrar

iii. Publication of the notice

a. the notice to be published by posting a copy in a conspicuous place in the registration office visible to the public
b. the notice will be posted until the completion of 3 months or until the certificate is granted whichever is the earlier.

iii. Issuance of certificate
a. after expiration of 21 days from the date of publication of the notice

b. upon payment of the prescribed fee

If the Registrar of Marriages is satisfied that all the requirements have been complied with. he shall issue a certificate for marriage.

Note: The marriage should take place within 6 months of publication or posting of the notice failing which the entire process will have to be repeated.

(iv) Objections to the marriage

a. Anyone with a valid reason for objecting or preventing the registration of a marriage, can enter aCaveat with the Registrar of Marriages against the issue of a certificate for the marriage in respect of a person who has applied for a certificate of marriage.

b. Once a Caveat is entered, the Registrar shall enquire into the merits of the objection

If he feels that there are no merits, he will issue the certificate for marriage.

If he is satisfied that there are merits, he will not issue a certificate for marriage and the person applying for it can appeal to the High Court and the decision by the High Court shall be final;

If he is uncertain as to whether to issue a certificate of marriage, the Registrar shall refer the matter to the High Court.

Note: Any person who wrongfully enters a Caveat will upon conviction be liable for imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or fine not exceeding RM3,000.00 or both.

(v) Solemnisation (duly performing ) of marriage

After issuance of the certificate of marriage, the couple may solemnise their marriage at the Registry of Marriages.

(B) Marriage solemnized (duly performed) in accordance with religion in a temple / church

A marriage may be conducted in a temple or church by an Assistant Registrar (who is duly appointed by the Minister).

The Assistant Registrar can solemise (duly perform) the marriage if he is satisfied by statutory declaration given by the couple that

(i) either (i) each of the parties is 21 years of age or over or if not is a widower or widow as the case may be; or (ii) if either party is under 21 years of age who has not been previously married and the female party not under the age of 16 years, that the consent of the appropriate person has been given in writing or has been dispensed with or given by the court;

(b) there is no lawful impediment to the marriage;

(c) neither of the parties to the intended marriage is married under any law, religion, custom or usage to any person other than the person with whom such marriage is proposed to be contracted; and

(d) in so far as the intended marriage is a Christian marriage and is to be solemnized in accordance with the rites, ceremonies or usages of a Christian religious denomination, the provisions of the canons or the giving of notice of the intended marriage have been complied with or lawfully dispensed with in accordance with such canons.

Note: It is advisable to have the certificate of marriage issued by the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara to verify if either party has been previously married or whether there is any other impediment to the intended marriage.

C. Marriages of Malaysians in a foreign country

(i) Before A duly appointed Registrar at Malaysian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate can solemnise the marriage.

(ii) If A marriage which has not been solemnised at the Malaysian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate then the marriage must be registered at nearest available Registrar in that country or on arrival in Malaysia within 6 months.

a. produce certificate of marriage from the country where the marriage took place or evidence either oral or documentary that such marriage took place.

b. Registrar may dispense the appearance of one of the parties if he is satisfied there exists a good reason for his absence.


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