Marriage on the cards, Thimphu notary overwhelmed

The notary office at Thimphu issued 1,609 marriage certificates from 1 January to 31 August this year

Various services availed and their statistics (Pic: Thimphu Notary Office)

KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu

With the notary office in the capital overwhelmed, people have now started to travel to their hometowns and neighboring dzongkhags to obtain marriage certificates (MC).

The office at the Thimphu Notary reported that about 1,609 MCs were issued between January 1 and August 31 this year, a significant increase from 1,421 issued during the entire previous year.

An average of 20 to 25 MCs are being issued by the Thimphu notary section on a daily basis and the application of MCs varies from time to time.

In addition to Thimphu, several dzongkhags have observed a sharp rise in the number of couples coming for MCs this year.

Given the increase in Thimphu, the majority of couples choose to travel to Wangdue and Paro instead because they are closer and incur lesser expenditure.

Wangdue-born Tandin Penjor claimed he had to travel there in order to process his MC.

He added that even if he was working and lived in Thimphu, he had to go to which was a covenant and fast. “I could get MC translation on the same day, whereas I would have had to apply for another appointment for MC translation if it was done in Thimphu.”

Jamyang Cheda also had the odd predicament of having to travel to his hometown in Mongar with his wife in order to process his MC. However, he is content that he was able to process his MC as soon as possible, even though he had to incur additional costs.

In order to reduce the workload of the notary department in Thimphu and to process one’s MC as soon as possible without having to wait for days, he suggested traveling to neighboring dzongkhags.

While some couples vent their frustration about the G2C website not serving its capabilities, the system they say is riddled with systematic loopholes.

This has also made people go outside of Thimphu where they don’t have to play the waiting game and their MCs are processed in a quicker time frame.

Assistant Drangpon Tshering Pelden of the Public Notary Office, Thimphu said, “It used to take almost two weeks to issue the MCs owing to shortage of staff and huge pending backlog caused by the repeated lockdowns.”

“However, with some additional staff, we are able to issue within 2-3 days after the registration is done. For online registration, it usually takes a little longer as many applications have to be rejected due to incomplete forms and documents required, for which they have to re-apply,” Tshering Pelden said.

She added that the recent surge is due to the impact of the COVID pandemic where people could not travel outside the country.

She said with the opening of international borders around the world, many people are now seeking opportunities to travel outside for studies and other reasons. In the majority of cases, either of the spouses is taken along to work and earn. This has suddenly made the office very busy.

While there has been an upsurge of couples coming for MC, it has also resulted in fake marriages where most people are trying to go outside the country for better opportunities, especially in Australia.

Thimphu alone dismissed 27 such cases in 2022 in which one case was even penalized for perjury.

As per law, if anyone is proven to be processing for a fake marriage, they are liable for perjury and therefore liable to be penalized with a minimum amount equivalent to minimum daily wage for one year.

Drangpon Tshering Pelden said it takes time to verify of details in the documents submitted, correct the typographical errors, and also in completing the payment formalities.

“However, we are in dialogue with relevant agencies on the integration of data, services, and payment which is expected to shorten the turnaround time.”

She further added that they have been trying their best to deliver the service as efficiently and timely as possible by working overtime and taking into consideration all the hardships and problems faced by the public.

“We also remind ourselves constantly to be courteous and polite while delivering the services but it’s not possible to keep everybody happy. Nonetheless, we still strive to do our best and to serve the public with perseverance and commitment,” she said.

The notary office in Thimphu issues the MCs in the afternoon, while in the morning they provide other notary services like attestation of documents, MC translations, and bank accounts related documents and processing of documents for an organ transplant, child adoption, and others.

In addition, the office wants the public to go through the checklist of the requirements and prepare the documents accordingly before submission.

In order to avail of the service at the earliest, the office suggested people apply for MCs and any other services before time to avoid last minute rush. They added that people should come with ready cash for payment to speed up the process until they come up with an online payment facility.

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