You're reading a free article from The Celebrant Institute, a membership program by Sarah Aird and Josh Withers. Members get to read all the articles, ask for advice and coaching on running a sustainable celebrancy business, and ask urgent marriage law questions.

Hopefully everyone has caught up on this major change to the way we do our work, but I know from my OPD classes that some people missed it. So here’s a super basic update.

Until June 2019, celebrants had to sight original hard copy versions of all identity documents (think passports, birth certificates, driver’s licences), etc. We now have permission to sight evidence of date and place of birth documents electronically (as a scan or photo of the original document), and to sight evidence of identity documents electronically (via Skype or Facetime in conjunction with seeing the party’s face). We can also accept electronic copies of death certificates. Divorce certificates have only been issued electronically since 2011, so this is less of an issue with those, but if a party was divorced before that year, we can now sight an electronic copy of their hard copy original divorce order.

Until June 2019, if a NOIM was signed using pen and paper, the celebrant had to receive the original hard copy before performing the marriage, even if the couple were coming from overseas or interstate and had emailed it to the celebrant to meet the one-month notice period. We now have permission to receive an electronic copy of the original (photo or scan) and rely on that electronic copy as the original; we do not have to receive the hard copy before the marriage goes ahead.

All marriage paperwork except the Form 15 (so the NOIM, DONLIM and OCM) can be completed and signed on a tablet using an appropriate stylus (such as the Apple Pencil on an iPad).

All of this will make life much simpler for those celebrants with access to an online marriage registration system (in Qld, NSW and Vic), because they won’t need to actually print anything except the Form 15. They can sight identity documents electronically, and produce and sign the marriage documents electronically, and upload them directly to BDM electronically.

There is a comprehensive fact sheet and quick reference guide available on the Attorney General’s Department’s website: https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/marriagecelebrants/Pages/Celebrant-resources.aspx You should definitely read them!