In order to get divorced in BC, you must submit your original marriage certificate to the court. You can also submit a certified true copy of your registration of marriage obtained from the Vital Statistics Agency. The original marriage certificate is then sent to Ottawa and you will never see it again (in most cases).

Divorce in Canada is governed by the Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c 3 (2nd Supp). In order to apply for divorce, you should begin by filing and serving a Notice of Family Claim. Rules regarding certificates are specified in the Supreme Court Family Rule 4-5(2):

Marriage certificate to be filed

(2)The first person to file in a family law case a document in which a claim for divorce or nullity is made must file with that document a certificate of the marriage or of registration of the marriage unless

(a)the filed document

(i)sets out the reasons why the certificate is not being filed with the document and states that the certificate will be filed before the family law case is set down for trial or before an application is made for an order of divorce or nullity, or

(ii)sets out the reasons why it is impossible to file a certificate, and

(b)the registrar is satisfied with the reasons given for the failure or inability to file such a certificate.

Canadian Marriages

If you lost your BC certificate, you can request one through the Vital Statistics Agency here:  Marriage Certificates – Province of British Columbia ( For other provinces, you will have to contact that provincial government.

Keep in mind that a certified true copy of a marriage certificate is not simply an original marriage certificate that has been certified by a notary or lawyer. The certified true copy of the marriage certificate must come from the Vital Statistics Agency.

Foreign Marriages

If you married outside of Canada, and if you meet the rules for divorcing in Canada (namely, one spouse being habitually resident in BC for 12 months), you must have your foreign certificate when applying for divorce. Either of these copies would likely be obtained from the governmental office that deals with marriage records.

You must also have the certificate translated by a Certified Translator. You can find a Certified Translator at the Society of Translators and Interpreters of BC: Home – Society of Translators and Interpreters of British Columbia (STIBC).

The Certified Translator will swear an Affidavit of Translation and attach the translation and the certificate as exhibits. You will file this whole package with your Notice of Family Claim for divorce.

What if I can’t get a certificate?

Sometimes, especially in foreign marriages, it is impossible or difficult for one party to retrieve their certificate. If that is the case, you must explain the reasoning in Schedule 1 of your Notice of Family Claim under “Proof of marriage.” 

If you are able to get your certificate at a later date, then you would explain the reasons why you will have it filed before your case is set for trial or divorce is finalized.

If the registrar approves of your reasoning, you will be granted leave to file the Notice of Family Claim without the certificate, pursuant to Supreme Court Family Rule 4-5(2). 

What if I want my certificate back once divorce is finalized?

You do not typically get your certificate back once divorce is finalized. However, you can request that the court return it to you. You can do this by seeking a court order that the certificate is returned to you once divorce is finalized under Schedule 5 of the Notice of Family Claim.

Pax Law can help you!

Our lawyers and consultants are willing, ready, and able to assist you. Please visit our appointment booking page to make an appointment with one of our lawyers or consultants; alternatively, you can call our offices at +1-604-767-9529.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Call Us Now