Getting married abroad

Introduction

If either you or your partner is an Irish citizen and you plan to get married abroad, you will need to meet certain legal requirements to ensure your marriage is legally valid (legally recognised) when you return to Ireland. You may also need to bring certain documentation with you.

When you get married abroad, you must meet all the legal requirements of the country you are marrying in. These legal formalities are usually different to those in Ireland.

You should contact the civil registration office in the country you are marrying in to find out exactly what is required. Ireland’s General Register Office has no involvement in marriages abroad. Read ‘Ensuring your marriage is recognised in Ireland’ below.

Rules for getting married abroad

Before you get married abroad, you should contact the civil registration office in the country you will be marrying in to check you meet the legal requirements.

Some countries will ask you for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry. This is sometimes called a:

  • Civil Letter of Freedom
  • Certificate de Coutume
  • Certificate of Nulla Osta

Read ‘How to get a Certificate of Freedom to Marry’ below.

As well as meeting the foreign legal requirements, you are also required by Irish law to have capacity to marry.

How to get a Certificate of Freedom to Marry

Applying for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry

You should start the application for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry online using the Department of Foreign Affairs’ website. You will need to complete a questionnaire and make a payment online. This currently costs €66, including €60 for the certificate, and €6 for handling and postage.

Due to COVID-19, extra time should be allowed for the processing of applications.

After you complete the online questionnaire, you will get a checklist of all the supporting documents you need. You will also be asked to print one or more statutory declarations. A statutory declaration is a written statement that you must sign with a witness.

You will then be asked to finish your application by post. Your application is not complete until the Department gets your documents.

You will need to:

  1. Print out your questionnaire and sign it
  2. Print and sign a copy of each statutory declaration and have them witnessed. Read about who can be a witness on the Department’s website. Your witnessed statutory declaration(s) cannot be dated more than 6 months before the date of your marriage.
  3. Gather your original documents, along with a photocopy of your passport. Your original documents will be returned to you once the application process is complete.
  4. Send them by registered post to the address printed on your questionnaire.

Your application is not complete until the hard copies of your questionnaire, statutory declaration(s), and all supporting documentation are submitted and received.

You can read more about applying for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry, including the documentation you need, on the DFA website.

When should I apply?

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

When will I get my Certificate of Freedom to Marry?

In most cases, the Department will send your Certificate of Freedom to Marry directly to you. You should get it within 8 weeks of the date of the marriage.

Note: If you are getting married in Italy, the Department will send the Certificate of Freedom to Marry to the Irish embassy in Rome. The embassy will translate it and forward it to the address in Italy that you have specified in your questionnaire.

Ensuring your marriage is recognised in Ireland

Registration of marriages abroad

Marriages of Irish citizens abroad are registered in the country where they occur. The Irish General Register Office has no role 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.

Note: A church marriage abroad is often a purely religious ceremony with no legal effect. As it is not recognised in law, it cannot be recognised as a legal marriage when you return to Ireland. This is the case even though a marriage in the same denomination in Ireland can be legally binding.

Your marriage will only be recognised in Ireland if:

  • It is entered on the civil register of the country where the wedding took place
  • All legal formalities have been followed

Your foreign marriage certificate

If you need to show evidence that you are married, your foreign marriage certificate will usually be accepted for official purposes in Ireland.

If your marriage takes place in an EU country, and your foreign marriage certificate is not in English, you can ask for a multilingual standard form (MSF), available in all EU languages, from the authorities of the EU country which issued the public document.

If your marriage takes place in a non-EU country and the certificate is in a foreign language, you must provide an official translation or a translation from a recognised translation agency.

If you want a copy of your foreign marriage certificate, contact the civil registration authority in the country where you were married.

Further information

Find more information about getting married abroad on the Department of Foreign Affairs website.
Page edited: 19 March 2021