Be it India, China, US, UK or any other country, transnational marriages are pretty common these days. India is the largest source country for international migrants globally and with a well over 15 million Indians settled abroad, it is quite inevitable that a large number of them end up marrying from other countries. However, the path to doing this isn’t a cakewalk and requires something called a Single Status Certificate.
A Single Status Certificate, also sometimes known as a singleness certificate, is simply put, a certificate proving one’s bachelorhood. Or in other words, a legal document that specifies one’s marital status as per the judiciary laws of the country. Unlike an official document, it is a self sworn statement stating that the affiant is single, or has no dependents (in case of a divorce) from any previous marriages. This provides the affiant with the license to tie the knot in any foreign country.
Why do you need the attestation of Single Status Certificate?
In India, it is not necessary to showcase that one is single or unmarried. However, almost every country in the world requires that a person be unmarried in order to solemnize a marriage in that specific country. This is to avoid polygamy and illegal marriages from happening. To allow a person to wed someone abroad, a Single Status Certificate, also known as a CENOMAR (certificate of no marriage record) is required. In certain cases, the documents to show your bachelorhood is also called a celibacy certificate, or a certificate of no impediment.
A plain statement stating the marital status is not valid, and therefore need to undergo certificate attestation or certificate apostille. Attestation of documents simply refers to the legalization of a particular document to increase its authenticity by the home government. However, for certain countries, that are part of the Hague Convention, a certificate apostille is required. The Attestation of Single Status Certificate makes the document legal and acceptable in every country.
Who is the Issuing authority?
Since there is no need for a Single Status Certificate in India, there is no particular issuing authority. However, the affidavit can be drawn up by a notary, and then stamped from a District Magistrate (DM), or Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) upon the submission of the necessary proof of bachelorhood. The affidavit then has to be exposed to certificate attestation at the respective embassy and stamped with the approval of the Home Department/Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Notary - The notary is the rudimental block of the legal system. A notary is legalized by the government to verify the authenticity of documents. They verify the necessary documents, and then stamps and signs accordingly.
SDM - The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, or the Home Department is the head authority of the district subdivision. They SDM verifies the affidavit and puts the stamp on the document stating the certificate attestation as valid.
MEA - The Ministry of External Affairs is the topmost authority in the process of certificate attestation. Once the MEA stamp has been placed, the document is said to be authorized by the home government
Embassy - The Embassy is the institution that represents the foreign country. Most document authentication does not require Embassy approval. However, in the case of certain countries, certificate apostille has to be performed, and the document has to be stamped by the Embassy, after the MEA approval
How to do it?
The process of applying for the certificate attestation is straightforward, however, it can be done either by the applicant or his family members or with the help of attestation and apostille services agencies. These are described in detail below -
- By the affiant himself -
In this path, the affiant themselves or their blood relatives have to perform the required steps. In the case of a relative, the applicant has to generate a Power of Attorney stating that they approve and permit the relative to perform the processes on their behalf. It starts with them preparing an affidavit, and with the necessary proof of documents, they to visit the nearest District Magistrate or Sub-Divisional Magistrate to get it stamped and signed by the concerned official. Following the approval from them, the next step involves them having to visit the Ministry of External Affairs for obtaining the MEA stamp. In the case of certificate apostille, MEA is the last destination for the legalization procedure. However, when it is a certificate attestation, the document has to be taken to the Indian embassy or country you wish to marry.
2. By consulting Attestation and Apostille services -
This is a much simpler and faster option as this involves the affiant using the help of professional services. The draft is prepared by the agency and the applicant simply has to submit the necessary documents to them. The Certificate attestation and apostille agency make sure the document is stamped and sent to the MEA/Home department for the authentication.
Since the MEA and embassies are situated in different regions, it is highly recommended to use professional help in the process of certificate attestation of these documents. This saves a lot of money and time, at the same time ensuring that there are no mistakes made.
What are the documents required?
For the procedure of attestation of a Single Status Certificate, there is a set of documents necessary. These include -
- Affidavit - A document stating that the applicant is single, and contains his personal details such as the name, address, identity, and witnesses on a stamp paper.
- Address proof - Any document to prove that the applicant is a resident at the mentioned address. Such as Bank passbook, Voter ID, Aadhar card, Rental agreement, etc.
- A valid Passport or Visa
- Proof of Birth - Documents showing the applicant’s date of birth such as Birth Certificate, School certificate, etc.
- Proof from parents - A letter stating that the applicant’s parents acknowledge that he/she is single. As well as their Voter IDs, or Aadhar cards.
In case the applicant is a Divorcee, along with above-mentioned documents, they have to produce the following -
- Decree Absolute if the affiant is legally divorced, or
- Death Certificate in case of death of their former spouse
What is the format for the Single Status Certificate?
The certificate, in general, has no specific format to be followed. However, to make sure that the certificate is successfully approved and attested by the authorities, there are several details to be included in it. These include -
- A sworn statement by the affiant - This involves the applicant proclaiming that they are unmarried
- A statement made by the parents of the affiant confirming his/her marital status
- The date of birth of the applicant
- The passport number of the applicant
- The present address of the affiant
- Witness statement - Witnesses are necessary for the process of obtaining the certificate attestation. They have to state that they acknowledge the applicant's claim to bachelorhood
- Verification from the concerned authority - As the closing statement of the certificate, it should include the declaration from the authority on confirming the authenticity of the submitted documents.
- Date and signature of the affiant on the day of filing the affidavit
How much does it cost and how long does it take?
The cost of the process depends on the process. The only fixed fee is the one to be paid at the MEA. The rest of the cost varies from state to state, on the facilities obtained through the agency, the type; apostille or attestation, etc.
The duration again depends on the procedure. The DM or SDM usually have long queues and complex bureaucratic procedures. Apart from this, certificate apostille and certificate attestation both take different amounts of time. It could take much longer for the affiant to go through these hurdles by themselves. However, if using the help of an Attestation and Apostille agency, it could be done faster and is normally done in 10 days.