Warning: Ontario Government Shredding Marriage Licenses

Brides and grooms beware – the Ontario Government is shredding your marriage license. That’s right, because of a new policy they will shred them without notice back to you. Your marriage may never be registered.

For the 12 years that I have been performing weddings, I take the completed marriage license and mail it to the Government of Ontario for registration in a postage paid envelope provided by the government. Once registered, a couple can the apply for their marriage certificate.

In December 2015, all those in the province of Ontario who are legally allowed to perform marriages under the Marriage Act received a notice. A new policy states that postage paid envelopes will no longer be honored. From now on, postage must be paid by the sender.

Officiant Warning Envelopes

Here’s the kicker: if any postage paid envelopes are received, they will NOT be opened and will be immediately shredded. You will never know that your marriage license no longer exists. That is until you apply for your marriage certificate and are told that it has not been received.

For all those brides and grooms who have bought an Ontario marriage license and were given a postage paid envelope, you cannot use that envelope. Or, yes you can but need to affix the $1.80 postage to send it.

Why is the government doing this? They didn’t say in the letter but it is easy to deduce it is to save money of course. The province receives about 50,000 wedding licenses per year…at $2.00 per envelope the saving is $100,000.

Brides and grooms, I recommend three possible actions:

  1. make sure that whomever is performing your wedding is aware of this policy change.
  2. make a copy of your marriage license before you hand it over to your officiant/priest/minister.
  3. have your photographer take a picture of the signed marriage license during the ceremony as proof of completion.
  4. ask your wedding officiant/priest/minister to email you a scanned copy of the completed marriage license before they mail it.

Last thing you want is no record that you were legally married.

How will you know this happened? When you apply for your marriage certificate the registrar will respond that they have no record of your marriage. They may ask you to check with your officiant/priest/minister to make sure they mailed it.

If your officiant/priest/minister did mail it in the postage paid envelope, then the marriage license may have been shredded or lost.

What can you do? You contact the registrar and ask for a special form for lost marriage licenses. It will require you to provide proof of the marriage taking place. That is why it was important to get a copy of your marriage license before sending it off. You will need two witnesses and the officiant/priest/minister to sign it testifying that the marriage did take place. Send it back to the Government of Ontario registrar and all is good.

I want to emphasize that despite these troubles you are still married. The Marriage Act provides for these circumstances saying that if a marriage took place in front of witnesses in good faith – then you are married.

Whew – I hope this helps.

Update: Please read Warning Part 2: Ontario Government NOT Shredding Your Marriage License




  1. Its just more money the fucking Liberals can steal or cover up some other crime with, we people of ontario need a no confends vote to get the librsls out now nefore we are all bankrupt

  2. Just got off the phone with Service Ontario. BRM envelopes will be honoured and NOT SHREDDED until the end of 2016. New applications will come with an envelope that requires postage, though, so no one applying now should receive one.

  3. The municipalities did receive a letter stating that the envelopes would be honored until December 31st, 2016

  4. How convenient that page 2 is not posted. No where in the information provided does it say that anything will be shredded. Also if you as the officiant are using a. Prepaid envelope after being expressly told not to for the sake of saving a toonie, that’s irresponsible and unprofessional of YOU.

  5. Debbie Selib-Haig Just to help you with this.. we as ministers or officiants have to keep a record of your marriage in our offices. It has to be signed and we have a marriage record book with everything needed just in case there was a missing license. So if your officiant is official, you are ok ladies!

    Debbie Selib-Haig Its called a marriage Register and that is why when we do a wedding and there is the sigining of the licence there are a few papers to sign. One goes in the envelope to the government and one stays with us (officiant) and there is one that goes to the bride and groom. They all also show your marriage licence number and it is signed by me (the officiant)

  6. The article isn’t BS! This was expressly stated by the Province. They have since backtracked after realizing how ridiculous this was, and decided to not shred the BRE’s that are received. Thankfully, someone with enough sense realized this was stupid to do.

    However, as with any letter, if something is mailed without a stamp, and without a return address, they’re shredded. Canada Post does not know what’s in the envelope and doesn’t know it’s a license.

  7. Rev Debbie Bramer, thank you Rev Deborah Haig for pointing out what many people may not realize. I personally keep a photocopy of the license just for that reason,as well as a marriage record book.

  8. This is a ridiculous article to incite panic for those who are supposed to be enjoying their newly formed Union. You should be including the effective date that the government has set and quit your bullshit rabble-rousing.

  9. I have been ordained to perform weddings in Ontario for almost forty years, and I have received no such notification. Where might I get this info online?

  10. Maybe just pay for the postage and stop complaining? They’re giving notice, and making it clear to people applying for licenses, and have notified all the officiants, ministers, etc. … Nothing seems underhanded about this. “It’s just $2.00” … so just pay it! If you’re already spending a buttload of money to get married, you can fork out another $2.00. And for the government those little things add up and it gets expensive. Let that money go towards something more useful

  11. Alright this is clearly fake.

    1) obtaining a marriage license is the jurisdiction of the Ontario municipality you live in, not the Provincial government.

    While fees alter from municipality you obtain a marriage license, in person, at the local clerks office. You do not “mail in” your license as this bogus posts says you do.

    City of Brampton Obtaining a marriage license

    2) No mail is ever shredded upon receipt at Canada Post.

    They have a very rigorous system in place to ensure all mail is either returned to the original sender or makes it to the intended target. Undeliverable mail is only destroyed after it meets with very specific conditions, which a marriage license cannot meet.

    Official Canada Post Undeliverable mail website

    This post needs to be removed as it is clearly a tampered government document.

    • The letter posted is not fake…I have seen an original copy of the same letter HOWEVER this article doesn’t paint the entire picture and leaves out the fact that a second letter was issued to clarify the situation. Also, the Marriage Act is in fact provincial legislation, you just obtain the actual licence from an issuing municipality within the province. After a marriage is solemnized it is a requirement of the Marriage Act that the licence is physically sent by the officiant to the Office of the Registrar General in order to be registered. Personally, I am not aware of Canada Post’s procedures on undeliverable mail but, in my experience, if you put a return address on an envelope with insufficient postage it is simply returned to the sender.

      • The Marriage Act is a Federal Act. The Ontario Family Law Act is provincial. The Marriage Act gives provinces the right to solemnize marriages but the authority to decide marriage and divorce is held by the Federal govt (section 9 of the Constitution). Please now this if you are officiating or you will be giving people incorrect information about a legal aspect of their marriage.

  12. As someone that has worked answering phones for Canada Post I learned a lot about them. There is absolutely no way the the government is paying $2.00 per envelope think about it. Do we pay those prices for one? No, and they are obviously paying less than us since they are obviously buying more than one at a time. You might not know this but Canada Post is no longer a government service, hasn’t been since the 80’s they are now what we call a crown corporation running without the help of the government. But here’s the catch, they don’t have to pay for postage ever! It was in the contract Canada Post and the government agreed on when they became a crown corporation. So regardless of what this article says I know for a fact they were never actually paying the postage that was stamped on the envelopes. That might be what it would cost for you or I but the government DOES NOT pay for ANY postage sent from the registrar general. Sounds to me like a load of crap.

  13. I work for the provincial government. I am definitely NOT pro-government though. But this article frustrates the crap out of me. You are accusing and blaming the government for doing something that is NOT being done by them!!! It’s quite clear in the letter. Stop using the envelopes, because the prepaid postage isn’t enough. People try to avoid this by not including a return address, so there is no option but to deliver it to the recipient. Canada Post is cracking down, not MGS. Canada Post is not here to deliver mail with improper postage, otherwise they would all be volunteers. It says right there, Canada Post is shredding them because they are undeliverable. NOT the Ontario Government. Roar.

  14. Alan Viau, as it has been clearly shown that this post has errors AND an update has been posted, it would be prudent to eliminate this post and redirect all attempts to find this page to the update page. If you as the owner of this website can’t do that, how about you post the update link at the TOP of the article instead of at the end and repeatedly in the comments? Sheesh, if you want to be considered credible with your update, you stop people from freaking and posting the incorrect info.

  15. I think a lot of hate is being thrown at the poster who was genuinely trying to help.

    Why must we try to hard to dismiss, disprove, and destroy people who make genuine attempts to help. Was there more information to be added? Yes. Did we get it? Yes. Was he completely wrong? No.

    The Province made this error in sending the information out, and in correcting themselves, did not do it as prudently as they could have. So it’s quite possible that people could have missed the correction.

    Let’s not be so quick to condemn people… He who is without sin…

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