If you or your partner are an Irish citizen(s) and are thinking of getting married outside of Ireland, you should realise that the legal validity of your marriage is governed, in part, by the laws of the country in which you marry. In most, if not all cases, the legal formalities abroad are very different to those in Ireland. For example, a church marriage abroad is usually a purely religious ceremony with no legal effect. Because it is not recognised in law in the country in which it takes place, it cannot be regarded as a legal marriage in Ireland. This is the case even though a marriage in the same church or denomination in Ireland can be legally binding.
It is very important, therefore, that you make sure to meet all the legal requirements of the country you are marrying in. You should contact the civil registration office in that country to find out what is required.
Marriages of Irish citizens abroad are registered in the country where they occur. The General Register Office has no function in advising on, or the registration of marriages of Irish citizens that take place abroad. Marriages that take place outside the state are not normally registered in Ireland.
Your foreign marriage certificate will usually be accepted for official purposes in Ireland where you need to show evidence that you are married. If the certificate is in a foreign language, you must provide an official translation or a translation from a recognised translation agency.
Although you must meet the foreign requirements for formalities, you are still bound by Irish law as far as the capacity to marry is concerned. For example, your marriage abroad will not be recognised under Irish law if one or both of you was ordinarily resident in Ireland and one or both of you was aged under 18 at the time of the marriage and did not have a Court Exemption Order.
You may require a Certificate of Freedom to Marry to get married in some foreign countries. This may also be called "Certificate de Coutume" or "Certificate of Nulla Osta".
If you are not sure of the legal requirements for marriage in the country you will be marrying in, contact the civil registration office in that country in advance to find out what is required.
Irish citizens living in Ireland should apply online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. If you are getting married in Italy for example, your Certificate of Freedom to Marry will be sent by the Department to the Irish embassy in Rome who will then forward it to the district where you will be married. In most other cases, the Certificate of Freedom to Marry will be issued by the Department and sent directly to you.
If you want to get a copy of your foreign marriage certificate, you should contact the embassy or the civil registration office for the country concerned.
Further information is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.