Getting married abroad is very exciting and often over shadows the important admin and planning for the legalities. If you are planning on getting married in a legal ceremony whether civil or religious there are some very important and time dependent steps to add to the calendar. So what is involved in getting married in Italy – where do you start and what do you need to know before you begin the documentation?
You’ve done the exciting part of finding your Italian Wedding Location. Maybe its in Taormina or Tuscany. Or maybe on the shores of Lake Como. However getting the serious stuff sorted is equally as important. As a Destination Wedding Photographer I always want to make sure my couples dont have worry about anything. Just Like Gio of Accent events makes sure your completely in the know when it comes to the legal side of your wedding.
The first decision is whether you wish to tackle the legal paperwork yourselves or if you wish to use a Italy Wedding Planner to look after this aspect of a destination wedding. For those of you are good at the detail and following a process then we can point you in the right direction for the appropriate resource (see below).
If you choose to use a wedding planner, this is going to save you time and will remove the concerns and trepidation many couples have with dealing with foreign officials and offices. A wedding planner will know what to look out for and what questions to ask the couple to ensure their documents will be completed correctly and without any ambiguity so that the documents and will accepted by the Town Hall in Italy. Jo Daye of Accent Events is an Italy wedding specialist with 10+ years experience planning bespoke weddings and helping couples of all nationalities navigate the legal processes, here she has provided some of the key steps and considerations to help you.
Understanding the legalities
Each country has its own regulations for getting married for the purpose of this blog the legal process will relate to two UK citizens living in the UK planning an Italy wedding.
Where to start with wedding Legalities
Once you have the location and date of your wedding in Italy it is possible to work out when you can begin the documentation process.
UK citizens can begin the paperwork for their wedding no earlier than 6 months from the date of their wedding. For example if the date of the wedding is 10th June 2019, then you can start the process on 10th January 2019.
The first step is to book an appointment at your local registry office. This is to give Notice of Marriage and to obtain a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) document. One of the two documents need for a legal civil ceremony in Italy. A Certificate of No Impediment is required by each individual.
At the appointment you will be asked to provide some information on proof of identity and place of residence. You will also be asked about your personal circumstances (if you have been previously married) and where in Italy the wedding will take place.
The Certificate of No Impediment is issued after 28 days have passed. For example if your appointment with the registry office is on 10th January your document will be issued in the beginning of February 2019.
Step 2 in this early phase is to complete a Statutory Declaration document. This is a bilingual form, again it is to collect some personal information, a little more detailed than the CNI form. There is a template form for the Statutory Declaration, the fields can be completed but the form must be signed and dated in front of a Notary. Your signature and that of the notary is verifying that the information provided is true and accurate. The Statutory Declaration form can be done just before the CNI is issued from the registry office. A Statutory Declaration form is required for each individual.
Legalisation of the documents for use in Italy
Once you have the CNIs and signed Statutory Declarations in your possession these documents must be sent to the Foreign & Commonwealth Legalisation Department in Milton Keynes to receive an Apostille stamp (one Apostille stamp for each document which will be attached to the back of the document).
The Apostille stamp issued by the Legalisation Office verifies the signature or embossed stamp on the documents and allows the documents to be used in a foreign country that recognises the Apostille stamp. It is very important that the Apostille is fixed to the back of the these documents and not a covering letter. Town Halls have refused documents that do not have the apostille on the back of the document.
It is possible to book the Apostille stamps online and then the documents are sent to MIlton Keynes by registered post. You can instruct the Legalisation office to return the documents to your home address or they can be sent directly to the person who is helping you with the document process.
Apostille stamps cost £30 each. The cost of return documents is £5.25.
Additional Documentation For Wedding Officials
Personal circumstances may mean that the Italian officials may wish to see additional supporting documents, such as divorce certificates and long form birth certificates, these may also require an Apostille stamp.
The CNI forms are to be translated into Italian in Italy, once translated they are taken to a Tribunale office for signature and stamps. The two Statutory Declarations do not need translating as they are bilingual documents.
Town Hall in Italy
The documents are then sent or delivered to the town hall. The officials will prepare the register for the marriage to take place. Please note that due to the volume of weddings taking place your documents may not be checked by the officials nearer to the time of the wedding, this is why it is very important to be sure your documents are correct.
You must nominate two witnesses for the signing of the register. Details of the two witnesses must be sent to the town hall in advance of the wedding day.
Validity of the Destination marriage
When getting married abroad you are getting married by the rules and regulations of that country not those of the UK. For example in Italy, when the official prepares the register, you will be asked whether you wish to combine your assets/possessions or if you wish these to remain separate and your decision is recorded.
As long as you meet of the legal requirements of the destination country your marriage will be considered as a legal and valid marriage in the UK.
EU countries that signed up to the Vienna Convention of 1976 will be an extract of marriage from the civil record of the country in which you were married. The certificate will be plurilingual certificate.
TIP: if you are doing your own paperwork it is best to request 3 copies of the marriage certificate.
As we live in a cosmopolitan world, marriages involving different nationalities are not uncommon. If a UK citizen marries someone of a different nationality in Italy then, the UK citizen must follow the UK process and the other individual must follow the process for obtaining documents for marriage stipulated by his/her country of birth.
Registering your marriage in the UK
For UK citizens there is no obligation for you to register your destination marriage in the UK. It is your responsibility to keep your marriage certificate(s) in a safe place.
If you are getting married to someone of a different nationality then it may be they must register the marriage with their birth country’s consular office in the country where you were married.
Here are some situations where a different process is in place for UK citizens who wish to get married in Italy.
Religious Wedding in Italy
To have a Catholic church wedding which will be recognised as valid in the UK the only option is to have a Matrimonio Concordatario marriage. This is where the civil rite is included in the religious ceremony. It is necessary to prepare two sets of documents, those for the civil ceremony as described above and church documents which you will require the help of your Catholic priest in the UK. The documents are sent to the Diocese (Curia) that oversees the church where you are getting married, it is this organisation that will have the final say on permitting the marriage to take place.
Not all Catholic churches in Italy permit Catholic weddings for non residents. This is a decision by the Diocese (Curia).
For those churches that do allow foreign weddings to take place it will be necessary to find an English speaking priest who will perform the marriage ceremony.
UK citizen or couple living in a third country ( not Italy or the UK)
Your options are:
- To give notice of marriage in Rome, or
- Return to the UK and follow the process above.
Both obviously will require you to plan enough time to meet the residency requirements. You can find out more by visiting the link below.
This is a complex issue especially for UK citizens whose parents are considered Italian citizens. Depending on whether heritage is through the paternal or maternal line it could be you are considered an Italian citizen which may dictate how you are able to get married in Italy. More information on this can be found on the Italian Embassy website.
UK citizen marrying an Italian citizen resident abroad (A.I.R.E)
Contact the Italian Embassy in London as they will manage most of the documentation.
The UK citizen must still produce a CNI and Statutory Declaration with Apostilles.
Civil Unions in Italy
UK same-sex couples in the UK follow the process as detailed above.. However in Italy the couple who wish to have a civil union must present themselves at a Town Hall in Italy two times with a minimum period in between each meeting of 30 days.
The first to make the request or civil union and the second for the civil union to take place, this will be no earlier than 15 days after the request for civil union is made.
If you wish to plan your own wedding and you are unsure of the legal process it is best to consult a wedding planner to ensure your documents are correct as if there is any discrepancy, incomplete or unclear information your paperwork can be rejected.
Please note that if civil unions or same sex marriage is not permitted in your birth country/country of residence and you wish to marry in another country then it will not be possible for you to enter into a civil union or same-sex marriage as your government office will not release the necessary documents for your to get married in the destination country.
This type of wedding ceremony has grown in popularity because there are no legal obligations to met. A symbolic ceremony has no legal validity. It is essentially a commitment ceremony. The beauty of this ceremony is that it can be heavily personalised so that the content script can be truly reflective of you as individuals and as a couple. You can invite family and friends to participate in this ceremony and you have the choice of where and when this ceremony takes place.
You can remove the complex process above by having a very low key registry office wedding in the UK and then focus on a more elaborate symbolic ceremony in Italy.
The symbolic ceremony is also a solution for couples whose personal situation prevents them from legally getting married, such as complex legal processes, or not being able to meet residency or the legal requirements in Italy.
When things go wrong
In some situations when it is necessary to turnaround the apostilles quickly there is an expedite service. The expedite service is a walk in and wait service at the FCO office in London and the Apostille will be issued the same day.
The standard processing time for apostilles with the Legalisation Department in Milton Keynes is 5 days and can only be obtained by the post.
The cost of an expedited apostille stamp is £75 each which reflects the same day turnaround.
Accent Events Limited is registered for this service. It is only available to Limited companies.
Reference for process of getting married abroad can be found at: www.gov.uk