Is Same-Sex Marriage Legal In Nepal?
From a traditional context, same-sex marriage is considered a "Taboo." But from the law side, the good news is that Nepal recently made same-sex marriage legal on June 28, 2023, following a ruling of 1-0 by the Supreme Court.
During the country's political transition in 2011 and 2012, there was an attempt to include LGBT-inclusive language in the proposed constitution. However, negotiations among political factions failed in the spring of 2012, suspending the constitution drafting process until new elections were conducted.
Eventually, a constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly on September 16, 2015. Although it includes several provisions concerning the rights of LGBT individuals, it does not explicitly address same-sex marriages in Nepal.
In October 2017, the Supreme Court instructed the Department of Immigration to grant a spousal visa to the American same-sex spouse of a Nepali citizen. Then, in March 2023, the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that a same-sex marriage conducted in Germany should be recognized by the government and directed the Federal Parliament to legalize same-sex marriage within Nepal.
On June 28, 2023, a single judge, Justice Til Prasad Shrestha, legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. This landmark decision made Nepal the first least developed country to legalize same-sex marriage. However, Nepal has not yet passed a comprehensive national law addressing same-sex marriage for foreigners.
Understanding the marriage procedure in Nepal with foreigners
In Nepal, foreigners can marry their Nepali partners without facing many difficulties. However, specific guidelines must be followed. You can start by preparing the necessary documents for the Marriage Registration procedure at the District Court.
As a requirement for the Certificate of No Objection (CDO) procedure, witnesses must provide affidavits testifying to the freedom of the marrying parties. The processing and issuing the Marriage Certificate through the CDO may take 16 business days or more.
The following details provide an overview of the essential documents and instructions on obtaining them.
Letter of No Objection/Affidavit of Eligibility
To legally marry your Nepali partner, foreigners must prove your eligibility.
The Embassy from your home country will give you the necessary documentation to confirm your single status. But, each Embassy has specific rules and procedures. So if you are an American citizen, schedule an appointment before visiting the American Embassy.
However, as an Australian citizen, you must visit the Department of Justice to get proof of your single status. Once you have acquired this document, the Australian Embassy will issue you a Certificate of Impediment.
Before planning to get legally married in Nepal, you must contact the Nepali Embassy in your home country earlier to inquire about the requirements.
If your country does not have an embassy in Nepal, then in that case, you can obtain proof of your single status and acquire a letter of no objection from the local government authority before proceeding with your marriage in Nepal with a Nepali partner.
Evidence of at least 15 days of stays in Nepal.
You must stay in Nepal for 15 days or more to start the marriage registration process. But, if you have not stayed in Nepal for at least five days, your marriage procedure cannot begin. But if you have visited here, the Ward Office will furnish you with an official letter verifying your stay in Nepal.
If you are staying at a hotel, you can request the issuance of this document from there. But, if you reside in an apartment, you must carry your Contract Paper and visit the Ward Office.
Marriage laws in your country
If you're a foreigner planning to marry in Nepal, you must consider the marriage laws of your home country. First, to register your marriage in Nepal, provide the original document from your home country. The paper should be translated into Nepali. Since the fundamental laws are usually written in English, a certified translator must interpret them. Moreover, if your first language is Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, Japanese, or Chinese, you must visit the Bishwo Bhasa Campus to translate your language into Nepali.
Notary Public Certification
Before presenting the documents to the court, a notary public officer needs to officially verify all of the mentioned papers, including a copy of your passport and visa.
How Can Foreigners Marry a Nepali?
Foreigners wanting to marry in Nepal must first obtain a marriage visa. Thus for this process, you can start by applying for a marriage-first visa at the Nepalese Embassy or in your home country. Moreover, you will also need to submit documents like a certified copy of your birth certificate, passport copy, and divorce copy (if you have been divorced before). After submitting your application, it will get approved, and you will now get a marriage visa, which allows you to stay in Nepal for Upto 90 days.
Documents Required to obtain a married Visas are-
Foreigners already married to Nepalese citizens can apply for a Marriage Visa by submitting the required documents. The required documents are as follows.
A Marriage Registration Certificate issued by either the District Administration Office or District Court.
If the marriage was registered abroad, an original photocopy of the 'Marriage Registration Certificate' and a verification letter from the relevant Embassy.
An original and photocopy of the Citizenship Certificate of the Nepali spouse.
The physical presence of the Nepali spouse during the application process.
A photocopy of the passport and the most recent Nepalese visa.
Completion of the online form for the Marriage Visa.
You can apply by going through this link- here.
Note:- A Marriage visa is issued only for six months the first time, and if you want to extent it, you can do so for an entire year after that. You can visit the Non-Tourist Visa Section with the required documents to start the process.
Cost of Marriage Visa
You must pay certain costs to obtain a marriage visa, as follows.
Visa Fee: $15 per month
For Single Re-entry: In addition to the monthly Visa Fee, an extra $20 is required.
For Multiple Re-entry: In addition to the monthly Visa Fee, an extra $60 is required.
How to Obtain a Nepali Citizenship for Foreigners?
A citizenship certificate holds great importance as an official document for an individual. Likewise, it proves one's rightful involvement in a specific state.
Having Citizenship means having the rights and responsibilities specified in that state's constitution and laws. Likewise, you also get included in the list of the fundamental right to vote.
In addition, Citizenship allows an individual to actively participate in the governance of the state and grants access to various benefits provided by the government. From Nepal's context, issuance, rectification, termination, and regulations regarding Nepali citizenship are all governed by the Nepal Citizenship Act of 2006. The initial citizenship act in Nepal was passed on February 28, 1964.
This existing citizenship law has been experiencing numerous controversies. However, one central contention revolves around the challenges of obtaining Citizenship under one's mother's name. Additionally, there have been allegations of discrimination against the Madhesis, particularly regarding their right to naturalized Citizenship.
Amidst these controversies, we present information about acquiring Citizenship for foreigners married to Nepali Citizens.
Citizenship Through Naturalised Citizenship.
There are generally three ways to acquire Citizenship here: Citizen by descent, Citizenship by birth, and Naturalised Citizenship. Out of three, the first two are impossible if you do not have Nepali parents or you are not born in Nepal. So for this, you can get Citizenship through the 3rds way- Naturalised Citizenship.
Naturalized Citizenship refers to those Citizenship provided to foreigners after a short legal process. In simple language, it is delivered to these individuals who do not qualify to obtain Citizenship by virtue or descent. Let's learn more about who can get Naturalised Citizenship below-
-If you are a foreign nationality woman currently married to a Nepali man, you can apply to acquire naturalized Citizenship. You must provide a marriage certificate and evidence of renouncing foreign Citizenship.
-If you are a son/daughter born from a marital relationship between a Nepali and a foreign citizen.
-And, if you are a permanent Resident in Nepal and have not obtained other countries' Citizenship, then you are eligible for Naturalised Citizenship
Sub Category of Naturalised Citizenship
In naturalized Citizenship, a distinct subdivision exists known as honorary Citizenship. This section allows foreigners to acquire Citizenship if they are aged 16 and above and have made noteworthy contributions to Nepal's art, economy, literature, or social development. However, certain conditions must be met for eligibility which are:
-If the foreign person can speak and write widely in a language practiced in Nepal.
-If foreign nationals are engaged in any occupation in Nepal.
-If a foreign national has renounced their foreign Citizenship
-If a foreign national is from a country that provides naturalized Citizenship to Nepalis.
-If a foreign national has lived in Nepal for more than 15 years
-if the foreign national is good to conduct, character, and mental sound.
Court Marriage Registration Cost in Nepal
The price of court marriage in Nepal means money one must pay to exchange the service of conducting a marriage ceremony through the court. Every person who wants to do a court marriage must pay this amount.
Before any court marriage, it is essential to gather all the related specific details to obtain accurate information for the registration and completion fees.
Note: There may be additional charges that one must pay during the court proceedings, which are not explicitly mentioned here. For the extra included cost, consult your respective legal advisor.
Unmarried Certificate Cost
An unmarried certificate is required. You can get it from the district you live in. The fees for obtaining this certificate vary depending on the location, and they are charged by either the Rural Municipality or the Municipality.
The costs are-
Rural Municipality- NPR 300
Municipality in Other Districts- NPR 1000
In Kathmandu- NPR 1000 and NPR 2000.
Marriage Law Translation Cost
To register a court marriage, a foreigner must have their home country's marriage law translated into Nepali. The International Languages Campus provides the translation service, charging NPR 600 per page.
Temporary Stay Letter
To obtain a Temporary Stay Letter, foreigners must pay a tax amount to the Municipality as revenue. The specific tax revenue for the recommendation varies depending on the type of Municipality, including the city, metropolitan Municipality, and sub-metropolitan Municipality.
The cost is:
Other Municipality charges for Nepali- NPR 2000
Other Municipality charges For Foreigner- NPR 3000
Municipality of Kathmandu charges for Foreigner- NPR 10,000
Cost of Planning a Traditional Nepali Wedding
A typical hefty wedding fee is usually 30 to 40 lakhs or more. To save some money, you can opt for a simple marriage ceremony. If you are not into simple marriages, you can combine your marriage ceremony with functions like swaybar, sangeet (which some Nepalese people have started incorporating these days), and mehendi.
On average, a grand wedding costs around 30 to 40 lakh. But, You can permanently save ten lakhs by avoiding unnecessary ceremonies such as roka or merging them with Swamber, sangeet, and mehendi.
After applying, a marriage certificate is typically issued within 16 days. For smaller weddings with guest lists of around 50 people, the average cost is $8,550, reducing expenses associated with larger weddings. The price of a marriage can vary depending on the location and the number of elements included.
What are the steps for the Marriage Procedure?
The marriage registration process can be a bit overwhelming generally, and it is normal to have some questions regarding it. Here are some points that are important for any marriage registration are as follows-
Four requirements for a person to marry in Nepal by Law
- The man and the woman mutually accept their roles as husband and wife.
- In the absence of blood ties, incestuous relationships go unpunished.
- In case of non-marital status, the couple is eligible for consideration.
- Both individuals have surpassed the age of 20 and meet the requirement.
Marriage Registration Methods
There are generally three ways for marriage registration methods.
- Acquiring a Marriage Certificate through Social/Religious Ritual for an Already Married Couple (Issuance of Marriage Certificate from the Local Municipal Office)
- Court Marriage: Marriage registration at the court
- Embassy/Consulate Office Marriage Registration: Registering Marriages at an Embassy or Consulate Office
Documents Required For Court Marriage
Individuals must complete an application and submit it to the appropriate district court to register a marriage. Moreover, the application should be filled out and signed in the prescribed format. Additionally, the following documents must be included during the process for court marriage-
- Original and notarized copies of the citizenship certificates of both applicants.
- Original and notarized copy of the witness' citizenship certificate.
- Letters of recommendation from the respective wards of both applicants, verifying their single or unmarried status.
- Letters of recommendation for temporary residence from the local ward offices are necessary for both applicants.
- Four passport-sized photocopies.
- Moreover, if a foreign citizen intends to have a court marriage in Nepal, the following documents are required:
- A no-objection letter from their respective Embassy or consulate stating their approval for the wedding in Nepal.
- A notary public must notarize and translate the no-objection letter into Nepali.
Court Marriage Process Explained
Step 1: Application- Both applicants fill out and sign an application in the presence of authorized individuals.
Step 2: Verifying and Registering- The court examines and verifies the documents' authenticity, officially recording the application and assigning a date for the court hearing.
Step 3: Appearance of Witnesses- Both applicants and their chosen witnesses must be present at the court on the designated date for the hearing.
Step 4: Marriage registration approved- If all the necessary legal conditions and paperwork meet the requirements, then the judge grants permission for the marriage registration application, resulting in the issuance of a marriage certificate by the court administration.
Can I Do Online Court Marriage Registration?
The Simple answer to this question is No. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a growing demand for online services. Moreover, many people too have been actively seeking online alternatives for various services.
Usually, individuals can go through the internet and connect using computers or telecommunications systems to start immediately with the online process. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous cities in the United States, such as New York, Colorado, and Ohio, have implemented online court marriage systems. However, Nepal still needs to embrace the online court marriage concept and maintain specific mandatory requirements for marriage registration.
How can Foreigners Obtain Documentation Required?
If you're short on time, you can engage the services of a Nepali lawyer and gather necessary documentation through online channels. Having legal representation allows you to forgo personal attendance at court proceedings.
Therefore, secure the assistance of a legal professional promptly, as they can provide comprehensive support for all aspects of your affairs in Nepal. However, if you submit your paperwork online, you will still need to make two court appearances. The two witnesses must present themselves at the District Court and provide their original identification documents.