(JAMAICA OBSERVER) — Marriage licence fees are to be increased in line with charges in other jurisdictions, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has announced.
Speaking at a quarterly press briefing at his ministry yesterday, he said the Government has been earning from the fees but that the cost for the service, which is mainly utilised by foreigners, is too low.
“Most of the marriage licence [requests] are from guests who want to get married in Jamaica; $4,000 is chicken feed, so we will increase those. It could be a major money earner for the tourism sector, and that’s something the Ministry of Justice deals with every hour — marriage licences being issued to tourists who come here — and we want to ramp that up so that more can be earned by the Jamaican Government,” Chuck said.
The justice minister said approximately 5,000 visitors have been married in the island since the start of the year.
“When a tourist comes here and is asked to pay US$35 for a marriage licence, he really wonders what sort of banana republic [this is], that you would only charge U$35,” he continued.
Chuck said the ministry will conduct a survey of fees in other jurisdictions such as Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and charge a similar fee.
“It really costs us a fair amount to process these marriage licences, so we want it to be a reasonable sum. For locals, it’s not that difficult because the marriage officers get it for them, unless they want a private ceremony,” he said.
In the meantime, the minister signed a contract for more than $50 million, prior to the briefing, for the re-establishment of the Kingston and St Andrew Family Court attendance centre, at the corner of East and Beeston streets in downtown Kingston. The contractor is Contracts Enterprise Limited.
The centre, which was located on Duke Street, was destroyed by fire in December 2015.
Permanent secretary in the ministry, Carol Palmer, said the work is already under way and that the centre is scheduled for opening in January.
“Our children who depend on the resocialisation services of this entity have been, on and off, trying to get their education going,” she said.
The centre is a non-residential rehabilitation facility for people 12 to 18 years old, who have dropped out of the formal education system and are being assisted in a rehabilitation process. It also assists with effecting some of the orders of the Family Court.