Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Social Protection
Section 46(7) of the Civil Registration Act 2004 provides that for the purposes of receiving a notification of intention to marry, a registrar may require the parties to the intended marriage to provide him or her with such evidence relating to that party's forename, surname, address, marital status, age and nationality as may be specified by the Registrar General. Following representations from foreign embassies relating to the high incidence of suspected marriages of convenience, the Registrar General issued revised guidelines to registrars including the requirement for a birth certificate originating outside the State to bear an apostille stamp, or be authenticated by the embassy or other relevant national authority.
The 1961 Hague Convention provides that countries that are parties to the convention may request the bearer of the relevant document, in this case birth certificates, to obtain an apostille from the authorities that issued the document. An apostille involves the addition of a certificate, either stamped on the document itself or attached to it. It certifies the country of origin of the document, the identity and capacity in which the document has been signed, and the name of any authority which has affixed a seal or stamp to the document.
In implementing the policy, the Registrar General has received legal advice to the effect that it is not permissible to discriminate as between persons born in another jurisdiction, either by exempting or targeting persons born in specific countries. The Registrar General is also advised that the birth records of persons born in the State must be checked. There is no requirement for the latter records to be authenticated by another authority, as the registrar taking notice of intention to marry is in a position to do this.
Marriages of convenience are a very serious matter, as they often involve trafficking of vulnerable women in certain EU countries, and associated criminality. Feedback from foreign embassies is to the effect that the measure is effective, as it requires the person concerned to contact their embassy or other national authority to obtain authentication of the birth certificate. In such circumstances, the embassy or national authority may provide advice and counselling to the person and/or refer them to appropriate social services.