Not all marriage licences are the same

If you are planning on getting married anytime soon, then keep reading as you need to know that not all marriage licences are created equal.

By: Pagan Cheung, Paralegal Student. Published: Sun Jun 01 2014


Photo Credit: Kim Seidi Photography via Stacy & Jeff’s wedding

As according to the Star, the secret to saving for your wedding starts with the marriage licence. To begin planning for your wedding, the first thing you have to do is to obtain a marriage licence and the price is different for some Ontario municipalities.

According to the Ontario Marriage Act, municipalities are required to charge a minimum of $75 for a licence and $48 of this ends up back in the pockets of the province. Other than that, the municipalities can charge whatever administrative fees they feel are necessary to cover their expenses.

For instance, the city of Toronto charges $140 that “covers staff and infrastructure costs, including searches through historical records. The city issued 14,375 licences last year.”

Although it seems unfair that each municipality has the autonomy to charge different administrative fees as one would assume that the work involved for staff is basically the same, the statute does allow municipalities this flexibility in their differing fee schedules.

For better prices on marriage licences, couples should consider venturing into small towns in rural areas. They can purchase their marriage licence anywhere in Ontario no matter where they are living or where the wedding will take place.

Here is a breakdown of the prices for a marriage licence in Ontario.

Price list for Purchase of a Marriage Licence in Ontario Municipalities
 Ajax    $125
 Aurora    $145
 Brampton    $135
 Brock      $75
 Burlington    $145
 Caledon    $120
 Clarington    $125
 East Gwillimbury    $125
 Georgina    $100
 Hamilton    $141
 Markham    $147
 Milton    $161
 Mississauga    $140
 Newmarket    $125
 Niagara Falls    $125
 Oakville    $145
 Oshawa    $125
Toronto    $140


The best bargain seems to be located in the township of Brock where a marriage licence is still only the required minimum of $75 as set out in the Ontario Marriage Act.

While the drive and the cost of gas may not seem to be worth the effort for some couples, keep in mind that the licence is valid for three months from date of purchase and they can plan ahead to host their wedding near the township. While a savings of $50 may not seem like much but why not spend the money for other things, like your honeymoon?

This is exactly what many couples are doing; for instance, “Ingersoll (population of 12,000) sold 227 licences in 2013 with three-quarters of them going to out-of-town couples.”

Do you think that all Ontario municipalities should charge the same minimum rate of $75?

Please leave your comments below.

SOURCE:  Toronto Star

About the Author

Paralegal Student
Communications Students.

7 Comments on "Not all marriage licences are the same"

  1. Hermione Shou | June 5, 2014 at 6:37 pm |

    Pagan, Pagan, Pagan… I don’t know if I should be thankful that I know about the costs of these marriage licences, now that you’ve brought this to my attention through your article, or gloomy about the impending costs in the near future…

    Anyways, I don’t think Ontario municipalities should charge a flat rate of $75 across the board. I personally would like it if my municipality had a less expensive licence simply because it would mean that I don’t have to go out of my way to a different municipality for a better deal. However, I am speculating that the government did this with a great purpose in mind. Think about all of the tourism that the smaller municipalities would get from all of the happy couples flocking towards them! Happy couples means more spending; more spending means more revenue. Way to go, Government of Ontario!

  2. Sajal Chowdhury | June 6, 2014 at 12:06 am |

    Marriage license fees shouldn’t be same for all municipalities

    By Paralegal Student

    Persons who are getting married need two things: 1. both who age of majority can apply for a license 2. must have to pay license fee.
    Ontario Marriage Act s. 5 (1) provides, “any person who is of the age of majority may obtain a licence or be married under the authority of the publication of banns, provided no lawful cause exists to hinder the solemnization”.
    Ontario Marriage Act is required to charge a minimum $75 for marriage license fee and $48 for other provincial fee. The fees rate varies from municipality to municipality. However, obviously municipality of Toronto charges more than others because of huge infrastructural and administrative costs as well as large number of staffs involve to searches the records for thousands of marriages every year. As we know, municipalities are autonomous body. The administrative/service charge and fees rate of marriage license depend on size, population, staffs employment and other expenses. Rural areas and small municipalities have limited administrative expense. So, their service fees rate comparatively less than bigger municipalities and rates shouldn’t be the same.

    Sajal Chowdhury

  3. Inna Maister | June 6, 2014 at 11:31 am |

    Obviously that many couples go to small towns with the purpose of purchasing marriage licenses. There is no point to pay $140 when the same services can be provided for $75.
    Yes, I agree that all Ontario municipalities should charge the same minimum rate.

  4. Valery Turyshev | June 6, 2014 at 2:15 pm |

    It is interesting information.But this fee is a small part of overall wedding expenses.Moreover, a couple will spend more money on gasoline to go there. Additionally, some very funny questions could be asked by the guests on the wedding regarding the place of issuing a marriage licence. The answer is to save some money sounds very ridiculous. From my opinion, this rate should be different.

  5. Lisa-Marie Hill | June 6, 2014 at 8:03 pm |

    It is not fair that the price you pay for your marriage licence could be different depending on where you live within Ontario. So because I am from a large city I must pay more. If marriage is regulated provincially, then there should be a provincially set price for the licence.

    Thanks for posting this Pagan! I now know that I will be travelling out of my city to get my marriage licence. Unless gas prices continue to rise, then I am basically screwed!

  6. Vicky Sparks | June 9, 2014 at 1:17 am |

    Wow! Who knew? You’re educating the masses Pagan! It does seem unfair that municipalities can charge any price they’d like above $75. Considering that Toronto charges almost DOUBLE the minimum price (why are any of us shocked?!) it seems like people from a larger city are being discriminated against by their own municipal government. This seems particularly unfair considering that it is already significantly more expensive to live in a big city than a small town. I suppose the only solution is to enjoy the small town of Brock a few weeks before your wedding!

  7. Paralegal Student | June 9, 2014 at 3:45 am |

    Personally I had no idea that these costs were not the same across all the municipalities. I am sure there are a number of people who simply do not have the knowledge that they can get a licence somewhere cheaper. That being said I think at the end of the day it becomes a matter of convenience. Weddings cost a great deal of money and the price difference is not substantial enough for someone to make the effort in order to make the trip outside of their living location (although there are bargain hunters out there that I am sure would). At the end of the day, sure it would be easier to have a flat fee but it is doubtful that enough people know or care enough to make that change happen at this current time. Great piece of information, thank you Pagan. — Kate Lucoff

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