Getting marrie​d in the Cook Islands

From a beachfront wedding at sunset to an elaborate affair with full Cook Islands Maori costume, wedding canoe and warriors...there are plenty of options for anyone planning to marry in the Islands. And there are plenty of companies who will relieve you of your money to organise it. The purpose of this page is simply to spell out the basics. There are no recommendations on any suppliers

Who can marry? 
Male and female only. Gay marriage is illegal. Marriage
 between close family members (e.g. brother and sister; grandmother and grandson) is also illegal.

Are there residency requirements? 
Couples need to be in the Cook Islands three full days before the ceremony to obtain their marriage licence. The Registrar may waive the requirement in special circumstances, but you or your wedding coordinator must apply in advance and a fee (currently NZ$100) is ​payable to the government. Application for this licence cannot be made from outside the Cook Islands. 
Both persons to be married must give Notice of their intended marriage by appearing at the Ministry of Justice and making a statutory declaration on a proscribed form.

Cook Islands weddings montage

What documentation do you need?  
Bride and bridegroom need their passports and birth certificates. Certificates must be in English or accompanied by a legally certified translation. If one or both parties is divorced, legal proof of that divorce will be required. If you're a widow or widower, a death certificate for the previous spouse needs to be produced

Who will conduct the ceremony?
An Officiating Minister or Marriage Celebrant registered with the Ministry of Justice must be selected to solemnise a marriage. Alternatively, the Registrar of Marriages can be requested to solemnise the marriage at the Ministry of Justice in Rarotonga.

Are there any age restrictions? 
The legal age of consent is 21 and you must be at least 16 years old.  Anyone under 21 must produce written approval from their parent(s) or legal guardian(s)

Where can you get married?
Pretty much anywhere, but wherever you decide on, it must be specified in the marriage licence you need from the Ministry of Justice.  The deserted little islets or motus in Rarotonga's Muri lagoon (pictured here) are the most popular venue.


Many hotels  and resorts will organise everything for a price...and it's probably money well spent if you want someone else to look after all the organising. There are also companies on the net selling "everything you need to know" guides. But all that information is also available directly from the Cook Islands government, free of charge

Cook Islands bride and groom

 Marriage Inquiries,
Registrars Department
Department of Justice and Lands
PO Box 11,
Cook Islands
Phone +682 29 410

Click here to email

Click here for the official government site

This page is a summary for guidance. You are strongly advised to check the official government site for more details