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Netherlands: Online Marriage Notification

(July 8, 2016) As of July 1, 2016, the Netherlands has instituted the option for spouses- and partners-to-be of digitally notifying the civil status registrar of their intention to marry or enter into a registered partnership.  The computerized notification is based on a decision of the Minister of Security and Justice to allow municipal authorities to permit the local registrar of births, deaths, marriages and registered partnerships to accept this new form of notification, although the authorities are not required to to do so.  (Ministry of Security and Justice, Digital Marriage Notification Possible Nationwide from 1 July 2016, Government of the Netherlands website (July 4, 2016).)

The decision was issued on March 29, 2016, in connection with the Act on Civil Status Electronic Services and a decree that amended the 1994 Decree on Civil Status Registration, both of which were issued in December 2014.  (Decree of March 29, 2016, Fixing the Date of Partial Entry into Force of the Act on Civil Status Electronic Services and of the Decision of December 17, 2014, amending the 1994 Decree on Civil Status Registration in Connection with the Act on Civil Status Electronic Services (Stb. 2014, 587) (issued Apr. 6, 2016); Act of October 8, 2014 Amending Book 1 of the Civil Code and Some Other Laws in Connection with the Simplification of and Introduction of Electronic Services to Civil Status (Act on Civil Status Electronic Services) (issued Oct. 21, 2014); & Decree of December 17, 2014, Amending the 1994 Decree on Civil Status Registration in Connection with the Act on Civil Status Electronic Services (issued Dec. 30, 2014) (all three OVERHEID.NL, in Dutch.)

The online registration procedure is one more step in a planned phased introduction of digital civil registration services.  Since July 1, 2015, municipal authorities have been able to allow funeral directors to register deaths in digital form.  (Digital Marriage Notification Possible Nationwide from 1 July 2016, supra.)  To carry out digital notifications, the registrar must check the parties’ details in the Persons Database.  The procedure in general for marrying or entering into a registered partnership has been streamlined since September 1, 2015, with the removal of the need “to submit all sorts of documents, such as a birth certificate and other extracts” to the registry official.  The parties may still go to the municipal offices in person if they so choose.  (Id.)

As had been done with the introduction of the digital registration of deaths, the municipality of Den Bosch was chosen as the pilot municipality to test the system for the new marriage/registered partnership digital service, and when that proved workable, the decision was made to introduce the option in municipalities throughout the country.  (Id.)  The introduction of digital registration of births will be the final stage in the phasing in of online civil registration service; the Den Bosch pilot for this phase is scheduled to begin in the fall.  (Id.)