Angloinfo Texts_Getting Married in Indonesia


Getting Married in Indonesia


The article of law covering marriage is Indonesia’s 1974 Marriage Law: Undang-undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 1 Tahun 1974 Tentang Perkawinan

“Mixed marriage” is the term used in this brief to describe the marital union between an Indonesian citizen and foreign national.  The legalities surrounding mixed marriages are complex and applied unevenly across Indonesia.  There are also different legal procedures for different religions.

As a foreigner, who is eligible for marriage in Indonesia?

Not every foreigner can be married in Indonesia.  They must hold a valid VISA first of all, and all the rules pertaining to obtaining a VISA will apply.  They cannot be married to anyone else either inside or outside the country. They have to be of a certain age, too.

Given the complexities and variations of legal practices in Indonesia, it is interesting to note that some sources claim that an Indonesian Police Certificate vetting a foreigner as never having committed a crime is also a marriage requirement.  But the Indonesian Embassy and the 1974 Marriage Law does not stipulate that such a crime-check is mandatory.

One must always keep in mind that in Indonesia local legal practices and requirements will vary region-to-region. Checking with local marriage authorities on any set of procedures and list of requirements is always a necessity.

In all practicality, though, when testing the eligibility of a foreigner for marriage, religion is the first of all primary considerations:


According to the marriage law, a man and wife must share the same religion in order to be married.  For marriage purposes, there are only five religions legally recognized in Indonesia- Muslim, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, and Buddhist.  Even before proposing marriage to any Indonesian, the foreign national must be willing to attest to the practice one of these faiths, or a legal marriage cannot take place.  For any Indonesian, religious affiliation is basic to social and legal identity and every Indonesian citizen must claim one of these six persuasions.  By the age of 17, each Indonesian citizen must have their religious faith confirmed as indicated on their National Identification Card (KTP or Kartu Tanda Penduduk).

No Indonesian can profess being agnostic or atheistic, so neither can a foreigner interested in marrying an Indonesian.  If a foreigner and their Indonesian spouse do not share the same religion, the only practical alternative is for one of the two to convert to the other’s faith. If conversion is necessary, chances are the foreigner will be obliged as it is rare that the family of a prospective Indonesian spouse would support religious conversion of a family member.  This is especially true if the couple remains in Indonesia after marriage.  There are exceptions, of course, but statistically this is the case.

Details on religious conversion in the marital context are found below.

What this also means is that there is no such thing as a cut and dry state marriage in Indonesia.  Though all marriages should be reported and registered with the state, a marriage is first and foremost a religious act and ritual, and must be performed within the context of a legitimate religious ceremony.  Each individual religion dictates this according to its own internal laws.  This point is clearly stated in the 1974 Marriage Law.




A Surat Pernyataan Harta, or pre-nuptial agreement, is another important preliminary consideration.

The issue of property ownership is of central concern here. Without the pre-nuptial, Indonesian law assumes joint ownership of property, and any property acquired after the marriage will be held jointly. There is an anomaly here, though, as foreigners cannot own property in Indonesia, but their name can still be listed on a land title in conjunction with their Indonesian spouse.  If the Indonesian spouse were to die first, this could result in the foreigner’s name remaining alone on the title, and this is illegal.  Selling the property under these conditions would also be illegal. In such a case, the Indonesian government would be within their rights to take legal ownership of the previously jointly held property if the surviving foreign spouse is not able to sell the property within a year’s grace period.

In effect, many foreigners would rather forfeit joint ownership of private property in Indonesia, while protecting their right to sole ownership of property located outside the country. Without a pre-nuptial agreement, this can’t be legally arranged. 


Pasal 29 (article 29) of the 1974 Marriage Law stipulates simply that a pre-nuptial agreement must be made prior to marriage.  A pre-nuptial cannot be made retroactively. The agreement is made legal at the same time the marriage is registered with the local Civil Registration Office (Kantor Catatan Sipil- which is like the mayor’s office) and the Office of Religious Affairs (KUA, or Kantor Urusan Agama).

When marrying in Indonesia, the assets of both husband and wife are co-mingled, and jointly owned. Each partner is entitled to 50% of the estate.  If the foreigner wishes to set aside and protect part of his or her own assets that predate the marriage, a pre-nuptial will be required.

Otherwise, a pre-nuptial might be appropriate for the foreign national who falls into one or more of the following categories:

If the marriage is to take place in Indonesia, it will be necessary to draw up pre-nuptial papers in the local area where the married couple is married and resides.  Most likely the services of an Indonesian lawyer will be required.  National laws directly apply, but local custom (adat) and religious codes will weigh in as factors.  Provisions for drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement are abstract and not pre-formulated.   There is plenty of flexibility in this regard.  As per guidelines, an agreement must basically follow religious and moral ethics as locally practiced.  

Two witnesses over the age of 18 must appear during the registration of the pre-nuptial agreement.  Photo copies of their KTP or foreign passport must be filed. Civil Registry employees who work at the Kantor Catatan Sipil may act as witnesses.


Basic Procedure for Getting Married in Indonesia

Note that requirements and procedures can change, so always consult your local Indonesian Embassy or Consulate General before proceeding.  As local administration is also important, contact and consult the marriage authorities local to where the marriage will take place.  It is more efficient and less problematic to get married in the same area as listed as residence on the Indonesian spouse’s KTP.

Legal Requirements

In accordance with the 1974 Indonesian Marriage Law, article 2 states that a marriage is legitimate if performed according to the laws of the religious beliefs of the husband and wife.  Because of the deference made to religious law, the act of marriage varies accordingly.

According to the law, the foreign national and Indonesian spouse must meet the following requirements and have the following documentation in their possession:

*see below:  Letter of No Impediment to Marriage

NOTE: The marriage ceremony is usually performed first in a church or temple ceremony.  After the ceremony every non-Islamic marriage must be recorded with the Kantor Catatan Sipil.  Without the registration by the Civil Registry these marriages are not lega .  The registration can be arranged to be performed at the religious ceremony itself.

For Muslims: Kantor Urusan Agama, or a local Mosque
For Christians: Kantor Catatan Sipil and a chosen Christian church


*Letter of No Impediment to Marriage:  Indonesian authorities are strict as concerns proof of a foreigner’s true marital status.  Marriage authorities demand an official letter as issued by the foreigner’s own embassy or consulate which states that the foreigner has either never been married, is divorced, or is a widow or widower. The foreigner’s consular representative will in turn demand the proper presentation of a final divorce decree or death certificate of the former spouse in order to verify. 

Pursuant to this, it must be noted that proving that one has never been married can be particularly difficult, depending on the foreigner’s country of origin.  For U.S. citizens, this applies as marriages are certified on the county level, and there is no centralized data base for all 3,000 U.S. county courthouses that can be searched to verify whether a current, valid marriage certificate exists or not for the foreigner in question.  Ironically, it is just as problematic for a U.S. consular representative to know in all certainty that a U.S. citizen once divorced was never remarried! 

**Notice of Intention to Marry:  When presenting a letter of Notice of Intention to Marry to the Kantor Catatan Sipil, both partners must present the following original documents and file photocopies:

It is important to reiterate: local administration of complex legal procedures will differ region-to-region.  In cosmopolitan areas such as Bali and Jakarta where many marriages involving foreigners take place, local officials follow more-or-less consistent applications of the marriage law.  There are few surprises, and reliable information can easily be had. In areas where fewer such unions take place, though, there is the distinct possibility that a variation on the  procedure outlined will occur.

Because of this, research into the specific local legal practices as pertains to marriage involving foreigners should be considered.


The Marriage Ceremony for Family and Community


An Indonesian wedding ceremony as festive celebration often entails a separate ritual, and may occur days or even weeks after the initial legal and religious ceremonies that may have take place in a civil office, church, Mosque, or temple.  Each region and ethnic group practice their own marriage customs. Sometimes the choice is a family choice as how to celebrate, but usually community traditions prevail. 

Think of an Indonesian marriage as having three components: one civil, one religious, and one according to the regional adat (collective local customs and traditions).

Indonesian weddings more often than not fully embrace regional and ethnic adat.   Festivities are all at once colorful, joyous, and solemn.  The married couple and “supporting cast” of children and what might be considered bride’s maids and groomsmen are often dressed in traditional costume as native to the regional ethnic group.  Local dignitaries speak; religious authorities extol the virtues of commitment and love to spouse, family, and god.  Food is in great abundance, as is music and sometimes dancing.  Usually guests approach the married couple at the end of the ceremony, and in congratulations deposit some money as discretely sealed in an envelope through a slot into a wooden box.  This is a show of respect, and helps defray the cost of the wedding.

If a religious ceremony has yet to be administered it may be combined with a festive wedding party.  Other times, the exchange of wedding vows has already taken place, and the religious formalities aren’t on display.

Christian weddings are sometimes more westernized.  Weddings take place in a church and bride and groom dawn traditional western marriage attire.  This means a tuxedo for the groom and a white wedding dress with veil and flowing train for the bride.  A reception follows, and it may be that traditional ethnic dress will be absent from the celebration and only food is served.

Traditional Balinese weddings are complex, long in duration, and rich in symbolism.  They can take place for eight hours or more, entail traveling by foot from one part of town to another, and have ceremonial stages that involve multiple Hindu priests and praying in different village Hindu temples.  Gamelan orchestras and singers are often part of the festivities. The number of people officially dressed and involved in the numerous rituals can easily entail up to fifty people.

A festive, communal wedding ceremony is more the rule than not.  Wedding invitations are sometimes sent out, but that is more a formality than anything else.  The entire neighborhood where the married couple lives is welcome and in expected to be in attendance.  Many friends and family donate time, money, and their help in preparing costumes, food, and everything else a marriage ceremony entails.

Time Periods & Marriage Certification

For non-Muslim marriages, expect a ten-day waiting period before marriage certification and a marriage certificate is available.  The original certificate should be safely stored and photo copies made. 

Islamic Marriage Certificates (Buku Nikah or Marriage Book) as issued by the Kantor Urusan Agama might be available in less time, and are usually held valid throughout Indonesia and don’t require registration with any other agency if the couple plans on living in Indonesia.  It is not bad practice, though, for any mixed married couple to register with Kantor Catatan Sipil in any event.

Non-Muslim versus Muslim Marriages

Many Indonesian couples of the Muslim faith do get married through their local Mosque without reporting it to local civil authorities.  This is frowned upon by the Indonesian government, but such traditional practices still do exist.  For a foreigner, though, this is not an option. 

For the other valid types of religious marriage, there is a legal requirement for all Indonesians to register the marriage with the local Kantor Catatan Sipil.  This, of course, is binding on a mixed marriage as well.



Religious conversion is usually not a complicated process, but again, it will vary from region-to-region in Indonesia.  Many times the foreigner, for example, can be converted and married in the same week, or even on the same day of the marriage.  This must be arranged with the marriage’s presiding priest, pastor, or imam and can often be done while arranging details for the marriage itself.

It is best the couple the consult local marriage authorities for the proper procedure. Once converted, a certificate will be presented to the spouse who has converted, and that in turn can be presented as proof to the Kantor Catatan Sipil and Kantor Urusan Agama.

For conversions to Islam, it is not uncommon for the conversion to take place in a Mosque, immediately followed by the legal religious ceremony of marriage.  Two official witnesses must be assigned and present, and their signatures affixed to the certificate verifying “entrance” into the Muslim religion.


Getting Married to an Indonesian Abroad

Considering the complexities involved in getting married within Indonesian borders, many couples opt for marriage outside of Indonesia.

The good news is:  Mixed marriages as performed abroad are recognized as legal and binding in Indonesia.

In this regard, a relatively new law, called the Law of Administration of the Population (2006) (Undang-Undang no. 23 Tahun 2006 tentang Administrasi Kependukan) is now in affect, superseding the 1974 Marriage law.  It states that Indonesian citizens married outside of Indonesia will have their marriages recognized.  They need only report the marriage to the Indonesian government by registering it with an Indonesian embassy or consulate in the country where the marriage took place.  Bring along the marriage certificate to provide proof.

When returning to Indonesia, the Indonesian spouse must again report their foreign marriage to their local Kantor Catatan Sipil if they are non-Muslim, and to the Kantor Urusan Agama if Muslim.  This must be done within 30 days, or else a fine of around USD 100 is imposed and the marriage may not be considered legal by the Indonesian government. 

After registering, the couple will be issued a Tanda Bukti Laporan Perkawinan (Official Evidence of Marriage) which certifies the authenticity of the marriage and makes it legal.

As a safeguard, it is best for the mixed marriage couple to do the following though:

The last two documents are sometimes requested by the Kantor Catatan Sipil, but usually presentation of a foreign marriage certificate is enough proof.

Further Information

List of Indonesian Embassies Worldwide
Use this web site to find the Indonesian embassies and consulates in your home country.  Consult their consular services for marriage information specific to the country.

Department of Religious Affairs (KUA- Kantor Urusan Agama)
Directory of Nationwide Offices:


Department of Religious Affairs (KUA-Kantor Urusan Agama)
Jl. Lapangan Banteng Barat
No. 3-4 Jakarta 10710 Indonesia
T : (6221) 381 2306
F : (6221) 381 1436
W :
E :


Department of Religious Affairs (KUA)
Jl. Tegal Harum No. 8, Kesiman Kertalangu
Denpasar, Bali.
T:  +62 361-463442
E :
Admin  Didik Kurniawan, S.Ag.MA.  email :  HP.081336744251


Jalan Raya Tuban
Banjar Pesalakan, Kuta
Badung, Bali
T:  +62 361-755997

Persyaratan Nikah Dengan WNA  (Regulations for Marrying a Foreign National)
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