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Getting married abroad


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 relevant embassy or the religious authorities in that country to find out what is required. View a list of Irish embassies and consulates abroad here.

Registration of marriages abroad

Marriages of Irish citizen(s) abroad are registered in the country where they occur. The General Register Office (central civil repository for records relating to births, deaths and marriages in the Republic of Ireland) has no function in advising on, or the registration of marriages of Irish citizen(s) that take place abroad. Marriages that take place outside the state are not normally registered in Ireland, except in very specific circumstances laid down in Section 2 of the Marriages Act, 1972. This meant only marriages consisting solely of a religious ceremony, conducted in the département of Hautes Pyrénées, France before 1973 between couples where both or either partner was an Irish citizen on the day of the marriage had to be registered in Ireland. All other marriages that take place abroad do not need to be 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 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".

How to apply

If you are not sure of the legal requirements for marriage in the country you will be marrying in, contact the relevant embassy or the religious authorities in that country in advance to find out what is required.

To apply for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry, Irish citizens living abroad should contact their nearest Irish embassy or the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Irish citizens living in Ireland should apply to the Consular Section of 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 for the country concerned or the relevant religious authority.

Where To Apply

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Consular Services
80 St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2

Tel:+353 1 408 2000

For a Certificate of Freedom to Marry Abroad contact the Consular Section at (01) 408 2568

Page updated: 11 October 2010



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Contact Us

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.