Are Mail Order Spouse Illegal: How To Find Love via the Web?

Updated on Feb 2023

Making relationships has become much easier these days. Hundreds of sites and applications have appeared — from instant hookup platforms to full-fledged dating services. Again, the location has ceased to matter: you can get along with a person from any continent and decide together who will move to whom.

Against this backdrop, there continues to be an industry that arranges a marriage between men and women. This practice in popular culture is called ‘mail order brides.’ Those who are not yet familiar with it (but are very interested) have the central question: are mail order brides legal? Follow through the article to discover the answer.

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The History Behind Mail Order Bride Legality

At least two historical roots of the mail order bride industry emerged in the 1800s on the American border: Asian workers in the border regions and American men who headed west across the United States to work at the border.

American men of European descent were financially successful in the migrant West, but all they lacked was their wife’s company. There were very few women living there at that time, so it was difficult for these men to settle down and start a family. They tried to attract women living in the east. Men wrote letters to churches and published personal ads in magazines and newspapers. In response, the women wrote to the men and sent them their photographs. Courtship was conducted in writing until the woman agreed to marry a man she had never met. Many women wanted to get rid of their daily routine, find financial security, and see what life on the border offers them. Most of these ladies were singles, but some were widows, divorced, or runaways. Thus, mail order brides legal roots go far beyond current international marriage tendencies.

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Is Mail Order Brides Real Nowadays?

In the twentieth century, the prevailing trend was for women living in developing countries to seek men in more advanced states. In the twenty-first century, this trend is mainly based on arranging an online date, which in themselves do not qualify as mail order bride services. Even though the very practice of international dating with further marriage has changed, the term ‘mail order bride’ itself or (less common now ‘picture bride’) has remained.

An international marriage agency (also called an international dating agency or international marriage broker) is a business that seeks to bring men and women from different countries together for marriage, dating, or correspondence. Many of these marriage agencies are based alongside women in developing countries (such as Ukraine, Russia, Colombia, Brazil, China, Thailand, and the Philippines).

Mail order brides agencies encourage women to register for their services and facilitate communication and dating with men from advanced regions in North America, Western Europe, South Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. This network of small international marriage brokers is often linked to international dating websites, which can sell their services on a larger scale under the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act, which is discussed below.

Mail Order Bride Legal Issues in the United States

Marriage agencies are legal in almost all countries. On January 6, 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the IMBRA (International Marriage Broker Regulation Act), which requires certain businesses to take specific actions before selling a foreign woman’s address to a U.S. citizen or resident or otherwise facilitating contact, including the following:

  • A man must fill out a questionnaire about his criminal and family background.
  • The seller must obtain a record of this man from the US National Sex Offender Registry database.
  • The questionnaire and the record must be translated into the woman’s mother tongue and provided to her.
  • The woman must confirm her consent to communicate.
  • There is a lifelong limit of two K-1 visas, with no requirement to approve any subsequent fiancée visa.

What Drives Mail Order Brides

The male perspective in such a relationship is comprehensible: they want to meet a beautiful lady who will later become their life partner. And since love is an essential part of life, no wonder women are seeking the same. However, females on mail order brides platforms have extra motivation for such acquaintances. They are as follows:

  • a desire to go beyond the traditions and religious biases of their culture
  • to become part of an open, tolerant society, free from prejudices, and get new opportunities for self-realization
  • to get new opportunities for socialization
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Mail Order Bride Practice in the Internet Era

Virtual communication is appreciated for its lightness and ease: what men and women usually talk about themselves on the fifth or sixth date on the network is discovered 5-10 minutes after the start of the chatting.

As was mentioned above, mail order brides practice now represented by an international marriage agency linked to worldwide dating online platforms. Sites of this kind provide women from Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America and men from Western Europe and the U.S with the opportunity to find love, create conditions for dating. Mail order brides sites present a vast range of online communications, including instant messaging, emails, web chat, telephone transfers, virtual gifts, live games, mobile chat, and more. Registered participants need to go to the site, which acts as a “meeting place,” and take advantage of the opportunity provided to them. The owners of mail order brides services:

  • help users with the sign-up process
  • guide through filling up the account
  • check the trustworthiness of participants’ provided information
  • ensures none of the participants was noted with criminal past
  • translate correspondence between clients who do not speak the same language
  • provide information security and customer support
  • ensure the reliability of the communication stages that will lead to a live date arrangement
  • in some cases, provide guided tours, during which a man meets several women who are interested in marriage

Is Mail Order Brides Legal in All Countries?

🇺🇸 USA Yes
🇨🇦 Canada Yes
🇬🇧 UK No

Although the practice of mail order brides is common around the world, there are countries where it is prohibited at the state level. For example, the Philippines has the Republic Act 6955, which forbids marriage agencies that arrange marriages between local brides and overseas men. The story’s twist is that Philippine women still go on dating sites searching for foreign husbands and succeed in this. So, as it goes, de jure restrictions don’t work de facto in the matter of love.

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Tips To Distinguish a Legitimate Mail Order Bride

In the sense of full disclosure, the world of ample opportunities also presupposes significant gambling. It is crucial to define which one will genuinely meet your expectations in the sea full of dating sites and services. If you want to get a legit mail order bride reliably, there are two ways you can tell a real romantic adventure from smoke and mirrors. You should check the website’s reliability, i.e., the service provider and your potential bride herself.

Mail Order Bride Website Reliability

Every self-respecting service provider places specific certificates on its official website, confirmed by trust sources. In the case of dating agencies, this is an obligation to comply with the country’s laws that provide the service. The more duties an organization takes on, the more responsibility it bears. For example, if a company is committed to helping with a visa for your future wife, it must provide information on how it does it. The more detailed the legal steps and processes that the company covers are described, the more reliable it is. On top of that, here are some helpful tips.

Explore Site Reviews

Service with a trustworthy reputation will be highly rated by independent parties. Frequently, these reviews are written by people who have already used these services. They are often presented as a comparative analysis with other similar sites. For absolute certainty, make sure there is consensus among the majority of them (3-5 are sufficient).

Check for Real Stories

Genuine dating sites value their clients’ trust, built on successful cases and real stories. Reliable services at the agreement of clients share their successful scenarios.

Mail Order Bride Reliability

Virtual communication is an area of increased responsibility for personal data and factual information exchanged by participants in such communication. There are also tips on how to understand that you are communicating with a real person. Please pay attention to whether the person’s profile page with whom you communicate and the communication itself have the following traits.

Too Good To Be True

If the profile looks too good, this is a red flag. Often, scammers copy text and photos of popular profiles from other dating sites so that they wouldn’t make up anything themselves. Google it: if you find a user on the Web with the same profile or photo but with a different name, then they are most likely trying to deceive you.

Unrelated Links

Actual people often post links to videos of their favorite bands, travel photos, or stories about their hobbies. And scammers often attach links to their accounts to low-quality sites that sell various products or workshops like How To Get Rich Quick or to resources with adult content.

Irrelevant Reactions and Requests

At the very beginning of falling in love, emotions are off the charts, but scammers often try to enhance this effect. They not only pour out compliments but also reveal details of their personal life (fictitious, of course), which “have not been admitted to anyone before.” They also often find themselves in difficult financial situations and sometimes ask for a loan to cover various expenses – from topping up their balance to buying a ticket to home. Money is often needed URGENTLY. In general, as soon as it comes to money, it is better to end communication with such interlocutors quickly.

Final Thoughts

The historical roots of mail order brides practice go back into much further past. It used to be a necessity for single men who were exploring new lands. Today it is an opportunity to find a life partner beyond your state without leaving it. At all times, there were laws that governed these processes. Nowadays, mail order brides are a full-fledged legal sphere of providing services. As with any other niche of services, it is crucial just to learn the reliability of the provider itself.


Are Mail Order Brides Illegal?

No. Despite the outdated name that misleads service providers and customers, mail order brides is an entirely legal field of activity. To rest assured that you are using a reliable service of mail order brides, check the availability of certificates and accompanying documents that confirm the legality of the activities of the company you applied to.

Where To Meet Mail Order Brides?

Previously, to meet someone, you had to go to different places like bars, clubs, and other meetups. Now, dating apps and sites make this task much more manageable. With their help, you can find a partner even in another city or country, if you just want to. Matchmaking algorithms of online dating services even select the options that best suit you personally.

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