Frequently asked questions about marriages, divorces, and annulments inside and outside Canada

It's not always clear how moving from country to country can affect your marital status in BC and abroad. Below, you'll find the answers to some frequently asked questions on this topic. For more information on marriages, divorces, and annulments in BC, see our Frequently asked questions page.


I was married in another country. Is that marriage valid here?

Generally, if your marriage was valid where it was performed, BC will recognize it. There are some exceptions, however. See the Marriage and Married Spouses page on the JP Boyd on Family Law website for information about when a marriage might be considered invalid.

I was married overseas. Can I divorce here?

If your marriage is valid to begin with (see above) and you satisfy BC's other requirements for getting a divorce, then you can divorce here. For a list of those other requirements, see the Marriage and Married Spouses page on the JP Boyd on Family Law website. Important: One of the spouses must have lived in BC for at least one year before you can start the divorce.

We were married in British Columbia. Do we have to divorce in British Columbia?

No. A valid foreign divorce is valid in BC. Technically, this is only true if one of the spouses lived for at least one year in the country where the divorce was granted. However, this requirement isn't usually important in practice. It only comes up if one spouse claims that the divorce isn't valid — and that rarely happens.

Is a foreign divorce valid in British Columbia?

Yes. Technically, the law says it's only valid if one spouses lived in the other country for at least one year before starting the divorce. In practice, though, this residency requirement doesn't usually matter. It only comes up if one spouse claims that the divorce isn't valid — and that rarely happens.

Is my annulment valid in BC?

If your annulment is legally valid in the country where it was granted, it's valid in BC. However, an annulment that comes from a religious authority (instead of a court) isn't valid in BC.

My divorce was started in BC, but I live overseas. How do I know if I'm officially divorced?

You can call the Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings for Canada, located in Ottawa, Ontario. They can tell you whether you have a divorce order, and if so, where it's filed. See Obtaining a Divorce Certificate on the Court Services Branch website for the telephone and fax numbers of the Central Registry and information about how to get a copy of the final divorce order.

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