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Before you say I do: Gov’t requires all singles to get certificates

The Liberian government is now enforcing a new measure here that demands bachelors and spinsters to obtain single certificates.

Authorities at the nation’s Center for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA), National Archives say the single certificate is the prerequisite for obtaining a marriage certificate here.

This new measure means that partners wanting to legalize their relationship must first be able to show their single certificates or obtain them to show proof of their bachelorhood or spinsterhood before a desk officer at the National Archive Center before proceeding with their marriage.

The CNDRA is the government institution responsible for the granting and management of government records and documents.

“The reason we made acquiring a bachelor and spinster certificates a prerequisite before moving for marriage certificate is to prevent those who are already married and for their own selfish game, want to remarry without going through the divorce process,” explains Mr. Kaipee Newray, the Communication officer of the CNDRA.

“We are not making profit,” he says, “But rather we are helping to change the situation,”

Although the news of the new measure has received some backlashes on social media, but authorities at the CNDRA say this policy was pronounced since August 27, 2018, and that those who have gotten wedded from this period to date have been made to comply.

When this paper contacted the National Archives on Friday, 1 February for further clarification on the new measure, CNDRA Communication officer Kaipee Newray said obtaining the certificate helps spinsters and bachelors to prove that they are single in the case of any challenge to that union.

Mr. Newray, said the amount for each single application is US30 per couples-meaning an individual can pay USD15 to obtain his or her bachelor or spinster certificate.

He said each applicant for a single certificate is to submit either their Voter ID Card, Passport, Driver License or National ID Card to prove that they are citizens. He did not say what backgrounds checks are done to ensure that the individuals applying for those single certificates are actually single.

However, he argues that the law, Section 81.9 (D) of the CNDRA [Act], empowers the Director General to make provisions for the economical and efficient management of Government records by developing standards, procedures, and techniques designed to improve the management of records.

This suggests that the CNDRA is using this new measure to raise revenue instead of the main purpose being stated.

For instance, Newray says with the single certificate Liberians traveling outside of the country can present that as a proof of their singlehood and do not have any attachment back home, adding that the single certificate will serve as a guarantee for you to marry anyone you find abroad.

He said at the onset a single certificate was being issued at the cost of USD150. But that in keeping with the government’s pro poor agenda, the amount was reduced from USD150 to USD15 per person.

“In keeping with the Pro- Poor Agenda and providing effective public service delivery, the Center for National Documents and Records Agency/ National Archives on the 1st September 2018 reduced the price of Bachelorhood/Spinster Certificate from USD$150.00 to USD$15.00 per person and is now a prerequisite for obtaining marriage certificate,” Mr. Newray said.

He says CNDRA considered the fact that after the acquisition of the bachelorhood or spinster certificate, the applicants would still have to proceed for their wedding certificates which cost USD$150.00. He said this was the reason for the downward adjustment to enable reduce the financial burden on would be couples.

By Roosevelt G. Jabah – Edited by Winston W. Parley

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