LCQ 11: Services of marriage registries

     Following is a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, to a question by the Hon Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung in the Legislative Council today (January 19):


     It has been reported that quite a number of people in Hong Kong have chosen to get married on dates with special symbolic meanings (e.g. August 8, 2008, September 9, 2009, October 10, 2010, etc.). It is anticipated that November 11, 2011, March 4, 2012 and January 4, 2013, etc. will be favourite wedding dates for prospective wedding couples.  On the other hand, some members of the public have pointed out that the current arrangements for booking and holding marriage ceremonies at government marriage registries lack flexibility. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of couples who got married in each of the past three years, and among them, the respective numbers of couples who used the services of the marriage registries and those of civil celebrants of marriage;

(b) whether it has assessed, from 2011 to 2013, on which special dates the marriage registries will need to increase their service hours; of the respective numbers of couples that can be accommodated on these dates for their marriage registration; whether marriage registration fees for these dates will be adjusted;

(c) whether it will increase the flexibility of marriage registries' services by, for example, further advancing the current three-month period before the planned date of marriage as the earliest appointment date of giving notice of intended marriage for online appointment booking, and extending the current 15-minute time limit for each wedding couple to use the marriage hall at the marriage registry; and

(d) whether more government venues will be opened for wedding couples to hold special marriage ceremonies?



(a) At present, members of the public may celebrate their marriages at marriage registries or licensed places of worship (e.g. churches or other religious venues). They may also celebrate their marriages in other places before civil celebrants of marriages. The number of marriages conducted over the past three years and the relevant breakdown are set out in the following table:

                             2008      2009     2010   
Marriages celebrated        26,000    26,300   25,900
in marriage registries                                
Marriages celebrated        18,500    22,000   23,900
in other places
before civil celebrants
of marriages                                             
Marriages celebrated         2,800     2,800    2,800
in licensed places
of worship                   
Total number of marriages   47,300    51,100   52,600

(b) The Immigration Department (ImmD) has five marriage registries, located at the City Hall, Cotton Tree Drive, Tsim Sha Tsui, Sha Tin and Tuen Mun respectively.

     All five marriage registries are open from Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings. In light of the demand for holding marriage ceremonies during weekends, in addition to opening the City Hall Marriage Registry on Saturday afternoons for public use, four marriage registries which are relatively more popular, namely the City Hall Marriage Registry, the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry, the Tsim Sha Tsui Marriage Registry and the Sha Tin Marriage Registry, are open by ImmD on Sundays. The five marriage registries can provide service for a total of 42,900 marriage ceremonies in a year during its open sessions.  The current venue arrangements and service hours together with that provided by civil celebrants of marriages should be able to meet the current level of demand.

     For marriage ceremonies held from Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings, a fee of $715 is charged for each ceremony. For other sessions (Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings and afternoons), a fee of $1,935 is charged. ImmD has no plan to adjust the fees at the moment.

(c) As stipulated by the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181), a marriage must take place within three months from the date of giving a "notice of intended marriage", which should be given to the Registrar of Marriages by the applicant in person or through a civil celebrant of marriages.  To facilitate the giving of a "notice of intended marriage" by a wedding couple, an appointment can be made through the Internet or by telephone as early as within 14 days before the three-month period from the planned date of marriage. The couple may also check the quota for marriage ceremonies at various marriage registries through the GovHK website, as well as to enquire, change or cancel an appointment therein.

     The duration of each marriage ceremony held in a marriage registry is 15 minutes. As any extension in the duration of marriage ceremonies will affect the chance of using the service by other wedding couples, ImmD presently does not have any plan to extend the duration of marriage ceremony. Nonetheless, the ImmD will review practical arrangement from time to time and consider feasible measures to cope with actual service needs.

(d) In addition to the above-mentioned venues, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department has provided, since 2007, certain venues for public booking for holding marriage and related ceremonies. The venues are the assembly hall of Lei Yue Mun Holiday Village in Eastern District; the beach, seaside pavilion and small garden of the Repulse Bay Beach; the Bauhinia Garden of the Kowloon Tsai Park; the Six Arts Terrace and Bamboo Pavilion of the Kowloon Walled City Park; the amphitheatre and lawn of the Tai Po Waterfront Park; and the platform of the Sai Kung Waterfront Park.

     In the past year, an average of about 20 marriage and related ceremonies were held in each of the above venues. Hence the current provision should be able to meet public demand. The Government will review from time to time the venue arrangement having regard to the public need.

Ends/Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:05