How Do I Get Married Abroad?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 21 January 2020
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Everyone has a different idea about what makes the perfect wedding. For some couples, a dream wedding entails getting married abroad. In some cases, couples choose to get married abroad because one of the parties to the wedding is a citizen of another country, while in other cases it simply makes the wedding a fairytale affair by marrying in an exotic and foreign location. For whatever reason, things to consider when getting married abroad are legal entrance to the desired country, permission to be married, having the proper documentation, and obtaining a legal marriage certificate.

The first consideration when getting married abroad is that the parties may legally enter the country where the wedding is to take place. For citizens of the destination country entry is not an issue; however, if either, or both, parties to the wedding are foreign nationals, legal permission to enter the country must be secured. In most cases, this requires a passport and, in some cases, a visa. If traveling as a United States citizen, the United States Department of State can provide information regarding entry requirements for foreign countries.


Legal permission to be married must also be obtained when planning to be married abroad. In some countries, the legal requirements for getting married are simple, while in others it is very complicated for a foreign citizen. Some couples decide to conduct the ceremony abroad and then return to their home country for a civil ceremony. This will make the marriage legal in the home country when the requirements for a legal marriage abroad are too complex.

In many popular destinations for getting married abroad, it is relatively easy to find the requirements and applications for a marriage license via a simple internet search. There are also, frequently, a number of wedding planners or services that include securing the marriage license in their fee for planning the ceremony. In many cases, these services are relatively inexpensive and can save the couple a tremendous amount of time and frustration, particularly if the wedding includes guests arriving from abroad as well.

Although requirements will vary by country, in most cases, birth certificates for each party to the wedding must be presented with an apostille as well as a medical form of some sort. It is important to understand that an apostille is not equivalent to a certified copy. An apostille is an internationally accepted legal mechanism for certifying a legal document from one country for use in another country. Within the United States, an apostille stamp can usually be secured through the state's secretary of state office.

Once the wedding is over, the couple must secure an official copy of the certificate of marriage, or equivalent, from the appropriate office in the country where the wedding took place. Although the couple may now be legally married in the country where the ceremony took place, they may not be in their home country. In many cases, a couple who is married abroad must then register the marriage in its home country to be legally married there as well.


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