People sometimes ask whether customary wedding is legally valid, since its rehabilitation by the ordinance of 11 June 1968.
Article 194 of the Cameroonian Civil Code responds to this. It provides that “No one may claim the title of spouse and civil effects [the respective duties, obligations of marriage and the legal matrimonial regime] of marriage unless it represents an act of celebration registered in the civil register”.
Article 81 of the 1981 Ordinance also states that: "customary marriages must be registered in the civil status registers of the place of birth or residence of one of the spouses”.
There are only 3 categories of civil status registers according to article 15 paragraph 1 of Act No. 2011/011 of 2011 amending and supplementing certain provisions of Ordinance No. 81/02 of 29 June 1981. Marriage registers fall into the second category. The first category being reserved for births, adoptions, legitimation, recognition and naturalization, and the third for deaths.
There is also no category in the law specifically reserved for customary marriages. In other words, the only marriage legally taken into account in Cameroon is that celebrated before a civil registrar.