Getting married abroad

Introduction

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 plan to 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.

Registration of marriages abroad

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 registering 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.

Rules

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.

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.

In some foreign countries, you may require a Certificate of Freedom to Marry to get married. This may also be called a "Civil Letter of Freedom", "Certificate de Coutume" or "Certificate of Nulla Osta".

How to apply

To apply for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry, Irish citizens should apply online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You will be required to complete an online quetionnaire about you and your upcoming marriage and make the online payment.

Based on this questionnaire, you will have to complete and submit one or more Statutory Declarations, your signed questionnaire and other supporting documentation. You should post these original documents, along with a photocopy of your passport, to the address printed on your questionnaire. Your application is not complete until these documents are received. Your original documents will be returned to you once the application process is completed.

You should submit your application at least 4 months before the date of your marriage.

If you submit your application 28 days or less before the date of your intended marriage, there is an additional fee of €60 per Irish applicant.

Applications to the following diplomatic missions and countries are not included in the online payment system.

  • Embassy Abuja
  • Embassy Malawi
  • Honorary Consulate Auckland
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan

Applicants getting married in Italy should note that the Department will issue the Certificate of Freedom to Marry to the Irish Embassy in Rome which will translate it and forward it to the address in Italy that you have specified in your questionnaire. In most other cases, the Department will send the Certificate of Freedom to Marry directly to you. You should expect to receive your Certificate of Freedom to Marry for your marriage abroad within 8 weeks of the date of the marriage.

If you want to get a copy of your foreign marriage certificate, you should contact the relevant civil registration authority for the country of your marriage.

Further information is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website.

Page edited: 2 May 2018