Bill 96: Quebec will now only issue marriage certificates in French

As of last week, Quebec will only issue marriage certificates in French, according to a letter sent to marriage celebrants in the province.

The change, the latest to come out of the new Language Bill 96, is also one of its first concrete changes that have been rumored but not well understood by the public, even as the Bill was passed on May 24.

Coming into force on June 1, the marriage rule is already forcing some couples to change the locations of their weddings because they want their certificates in English, a wedding planner has said.

“Some have decided to get married at the destination,” said Jaime Korey, Montreal wedding and event planner.

Others, she says, have simply decided to marry in another province.

Among his clients was “mostly Ontario,” Korey said, including in the small town of Hawkesbury, about an hour west of Montreal, just across the Ottawa River from Quebec.

“There are a lot of venues in Hawkesbury, and venues in Ottawa that are also nearby,” she said.

Of her customers, 90% are bilingual and unaffected, she said. There are also various adjustments underway in wedding planning, including work around COVID-19, so it can be difficult to pin down people’s motivations for changing plans.

But for about 10% of Korey’s clients, she says, the language of the marriage certificate is important.

“It just has to do with the fact that it’s a bilingual province and an English-speaking country,” she said.

Their reasons are “emotional, political, principled,” she said. “They want to have their marriage certificate in their official language.”

Korey had heard the news, but it was not well publicized. Quebec wedding officiants received a letter from a director of Quebec’s civil status, or civil status, department on June 1 notifying them of the change.

With the passing of Bill 96, parts of the province’s Civil Code have changed, writes Nicolas Normandin, who oversees legislative changes and celebrants.

“Although it is still possible to complete a Declaration of Marriage (DEC-50) or Civil Union (DEC-55) form in English after June 1, 2022, all marriage and civil union documents are written in French,” he wrote. .

“Consequently, the acts and copies of acts relating to marriages and civil unions registered in the civil status on June 1, 2022 are issued in French.

The wording left the situation unclear. An English-speaking wedding officiant told CTV News it is his understanding that all forms, including the declaration of marriage, will only be available in French, but people will be allowed to fill in the blanks in English. The certificate mailed after each wedding will be in French.

When asked to clarify some aspects of the new rule, Vital Statistics asked CTV News to contact the Justice Department, which oversaw the bill. This department has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Officials in Ottawa and Hawkesbury could not immediately say whether they had noticed a change in demand from Quebecers.

WANT A MONTREAL DESTINATION WEDDING? TRANSLATION REQUIRED

For Quebecers who hope their marriage certificates will be transferable out of province, this rule will change that, or at least add another hurdle.

A spokesperson for the US State Department, which handles US visa applications, directed CTV News to the department’s step-by-step application instructions, which say non-English documents should get translations certified.

This means that people who marry in Quebec and then get a job in the United States, for example, and who want to bring their spouse to live and work there too, will have to obtain a certified translation of their marriage certificate.

But it’s not just Canadians who will have to deal with that extra step, said Montreal wedding planner Elyna Kudish.

“All of our clients are Americans, mostly,” having destination weddings in Montreal, she said.

“I can’t speak for all of my co-planners, but for me, about 75% of my business comes from New York, Washington, Boston, and LA”

Montrealers may not realize their city is attractive as a wedding destination, but “for a lot of Americans it’s closer than Europe, it’s easier – the US dollar goes a long way here” , Kudish said.

“We’re known for our amazing food, our great DJs, our amazing party vibe,” she said. “People make it a weekend.”

Kudish herself is allophone, she says — speaks perfect French and English — but among her local clients, the majority are Anglophones, she says, simply because many French-speaking Quebecers do not marry after the cultural changes of the Quiet Revolution.

She said she was worried about the economic fallout, because “Quebec lives and breathes tourism”, but is also worried about the idea of ​​having English speakers fill out and sign documents written in French, with no translation available.

“If I were to get married in a foreign country and they made me sign something in a language I don’t speak… how would they know what they’re signing?” she says.

BIRTH PLANS, DEATH CERTIFICATES STILL UNCLEAR

A big question that has not been answered is whether Bill 96 will also mean that Quebec birth and death certificates will now only be issued in French.

In Normandin’s letter, he mentions that three articles of the Civil Code of Quebec were modified by Bill 96: articles 108, 109 and 140. The updated articles have not yet been published online.

Article 108 deals specifically with the language of registration of births, marriages, civil unions and deaths in Quebec, which until now could be written in French or in English.

The article gives advice on how to deal with transcriptions of official documents in foreign languages ​​with unknown characters or diacritics.

Section 140, on the other hand, deals with the need to have official documents from outside Quebec translated. Translations were not required for foreign documents in English or French.

The Department of Justice and Vital Statistics has not yet responded to a request for comment on whether the Bill 96 changes will extend to births and deaths, or just marriages and civil unions.

Read the letter here:

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