How to Get Married in The Netherlands as a Foreigner

Created: Mar 22, 2024 | Updated: Mar 22, 2024

You have come to the right place if you are looking for answers on how marriage is done in the Netherlands, especially from the perspective of a foreign national. We’ve done the research and covered all the steps concerning how to tie the knot in the Netherlands, from the legal requirements to the necessary documentation all up to the planning process so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Dutch Wedding Traditions

The Kingdom of the Netherlands has unique traditions that express and showcase the beliefs of the people. The journey to a Dutch wedding starts with the engagement, where it's customary for the groom to propose with an engagement ring, symbolising commitment and love. This is followed by pre-wedding celebrations, which range from intimate family dinners to larger gatherings with extended family and friends, serving as a bonding opportunity before the big day​. 

Dutch weddings are such a joy to attend! They usually have a lovely mix of a ceremony, reception, dinner, and a fun party. What makes them so special is their simple and relaxed vibe. At most of these weddings, you’ll find a civil registry official, witnesses, and a master of ceremonies, which means every couple can tailor their big day just the way they like it, but still sprinkle in some of those cherished Dutch traditions. Speaking of which, let me share some amazing traditions from the Netherlands:

  • Proposal Customs: Traditionally, only men are expected to propose in the Netherlands, except on February 29th, when women can propose to their partners. This leap day exception adds a fun twist to Dutch engagement traditions​.
  • The wishing tree: Instead of using a traditional guestbook, a wishing tree consists of branches, ribbons, and leaves or cards upon which guests can write their wishes and blessings for the newlyweds. This creates a visually stunning and meaningful way for guests to share their well-wishes.
  • Bridal sugar: This tradition involves giving wedding favours of five sweets, typically sugared almonds, wrapped in tulle. These represent five wishes for the couple: happiness, love, loyalty, prosperity, and virility. This custom is a way to share the joy of the occasion and offer symbolic blessings to the newlyweds​.
  • The Ceremoniemeester: Traditionally, the roles of Maid of Honour or Best Man are slightly different in Dutch weddings. They are known as "ceremoniemeesters," and they help plan the wedding and ensure everything runs smoothly on the day, taking a more active role in the organisation and execution of the wedding​.
  • Surnames: In traditional Dutch naming customs, marriages did not require a woman to legally change her name but allowed her to use her husband's name hyphenated with her maiden name for social purposes. Currently, both partners may keep their surnames upon marriage or opt for a combination. The choice is registered with municipal records, maintaining legal names but allowing for social usage of the chosen name combination. If the couple has a child, the newborn can be given either of their surnames or a double-barrelled surname.

The Legal Requirements for Marriage in the Netherlands 

The first thing you need to do is understand what the legal requirements for getting married in the Netherlands are. Before you can get married in the Netherlands as a foreigner, you have to meet certain criteria. 

Legal Requirements

  • You both must be at least 18 years old.
  • If you are under 18 and have a guardian, you will need the permission of the guardian or the limited jurisdiction judge.
  • At least one of you must be a Dutch national or live in the Netherlands. You cannot get married in the Netherlands if you both live outside the Netherlands and neither of you is a Dutch national.
  • You both must be single.
  • You cannot marry or enter into a registered partnership with a family member such as: 







  • You must have at least 2 and no more than 4 witnesses who are 18 years and above.

Documentation Requirements

The documents you will be submitting will depend on your situation and the municipality where you want to get married. If you contact the municipality, they can tell you which documents you need. The documents you will usually be asked to provide include:

  • Valid passports or national identity cards.
  • Birth certificates.
  • A Certificate of No Impediment (CNI), issued by the authorities in your country of residence.
  • A legalised declaration of unmarried status (if you live or have lived outside the Netherlands). You can apply for this in the last place you lived abroad. 
  • Personal declaration of residence rights at the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) (if you or your partner live in the Netherlands).
  • Residence permit from the IND (if you intend to live in the Netherlands with your partner after the wedding). 
  • Personal declaration of no sham marriage at the local municipality stating that you are not marrying a Netherlands national just to get a residence permit. 
  • You do not need to complete a personal declaration if you and your partner:

- are both nationals of a European Union member state or Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway.

- both have a permanent residence permit, or

- both have a permanent asylum residence permit.

Documents not in Dutch, English, French, or German need to be translated by a certified translator or a certified translation service like Translayte, where highly skilled translators work to accurately convey the message of your documents. You can get Dutch translations to or from a large variety of languages. Moreover, foreign documents must usually be legalised or bear an apostille stamp from the country of issuance to be valid in the Netherlands.


How to get married in the Netherlands


How to Get Married in the Netherlands in Four Steps

So, we’ve looked at all we need to put in place before marrying in the Netherlands. Now, let’s simplify the entire process for you into four steps. 

Confirm Your Eligibility

You and your partner must meet the criteria listed above. Be sure to go through each one and confirm if you qualify to be married in the Netherlands.

Declare Intent to Marry 

This is known as 'ondertrouw' in Dutch. You must notify your local municipality of your intention to marry or enter into a registered partnership at least 6 weeks before your planned date. This ondertrouw is valid for one year. In the City of Amsterdam, for instance, you can make your ondertrouw both online and in person. 

Online Declaration 

You can make your ondertrouw online if you and your partner are Dutch and live in the Netherlands. To do this, you must both log in with your DigiD and each upload a scan or photo of your valid ID card, passport or driver’s licence.

Declaration at a City Office

You can make your ondertrouw in person at a City Office. To do this, you need to make an appointment. You can make an appointment at the City Office where the wedding ceremony will take place. If you want the ceremony at a City Office, you have to make an appointment with that specific Office. If the ceremony is to take place at another location, you can make an appointment at any City Office.

During this appointment, you can also set the date and location of the ceremony and register your witnesses. You can do this alone or with your partner but you must take the following along to your appointment:

  • A valid passport, ID card or driver’s licence for both of you.
  • A clear copy of a valid passport, ID card or driver’s licence for your witnesses. 
Cost of Marriage in the Netherlands

The cost of a wedding ceremony in the Netherlands depends on what you want. You can have a wedding for free, on a budget or you can go all out. 

1. A Free Ceremony: A free ceremony has no costs. You can marry or register your partnership for free. It will take place in the wedding hall of the City Office and lasts a maximum of 10 minutes. There will be no personal speech or music and you can have this number of guests and witnesses including the photographer:

  • 20 guests in Centre, Noord, Oost and Zuidoost
  • 12 guests in West and Zuid
  • 11 guests in Nieuw-West
  • 10 guests in Weesp

You can have this free ceremony in Amsterdam on Tuesdays at 10:30 am, 10:50 am and 11:10 am. You can also have it at Weesp on Mondays at 10:30 am, 10:50 am and 11:10 am.

2. The Budget Ceremony: This ceremony is a pocket-friendly way to get married or register your partnership. It takes place in the City Office's wedding hall and lasts 10 minutes. There will be no personal speech or music and you may have a photographer. It costs € 187.10. 
The number of guests, you can invite in each City Office and the time available for a ceremony  include: 

  • Centre: 20 guests (including witnesses and photographer) Tuesdays from 1.00 pm to 4:30 pm and Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm.
  • Nieuw-West: 20 guests (including witnesses and photographer) Mondays from 09;30 am to 11:30 am and Tuesdays between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
  • Noord: 20 guests (including witnesses and photographer) Thursdays from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm and Fridays from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm.
  • Oost: 20 guests (including witnesses and photographer) Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and Thursdays from 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm.
  • Weesp: 10 guests (including witnesses and photographer). Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 4:30 and Thursdays from 9:00 to 1:00 pm.
  • West: 12 guests (including witnesses and photographer). Mondays between 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm and Fridays from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.
  • Zuid: 12 guests (including witnesses and photographer). Mondays between 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm and Thursdays between 9:30 am and 1:00 pm. 
  • Zuidoost: 20 guests (including witnesses and photographer). Wednesdays between 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm and Fridays between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm.

3. Standard Ceremony: A standard ceremony gives you the freedom to decide more for yourself, such as the location and wedding officiant. It lasts for a maximum of 45 minutes and you will get a free marriage booklet or partnership booklet. It can take place at the City Office wedding hall during opening hours or you can apply for it to happen at any other official wedding location any day or time, even at a spot which has not been designated as a wedding venue, although the building will need to meet a few conditions. An application for a wedding location costs €500.30 and you will not get a refund if the location is rejected so make sure it meets all the conditions before applying.

Other options include:

  • Ceremony at the City Of­fi­ce wed­ding hall on Mon­day to Fri­day at 09:00 am - 5:00 pm - €878
  • Ceremony at a lo­ca­ti­on in the city on Mon­day - Fri­day at 08:00 am - 9:00 pm - €834.10
  • Ceremony at a lo­ca­ti­on in the city on Mon­day to Fri­day at 6:00 pm - 08:00 am - €1,080.90
  • Ceremony at a lo­ca­ti­on in the city on Sa­tur­day and Sun­day - €1,080.9

All payments at the City Office can be made via debit card.

Can a foreigner get married in the Netherlands?


Plan Your Ceremony

After you have finished with all the major paperwork and payments, you can now get into the real fun. Let’s give you a few tips on how to plan the ceremony. 

1. Choose Your Type of Ceremony: Decide on the type of ceremony you want to have. This could be a quick 10-minute wedding at the City Office or it can be something elaborate at any other location. 

2. Set a Budget: You can have a free wedding at the City Hall or, you can have a budget. Determining your budget will guide many of your decisions, from the venue to the number of guests and the style of the event. Make sure to account for any potential costs like the venue, attire, officiant fees, decorations, and any additional services you might want.

3. Select a Venue: The venue sets the tone for your wedding. Popular options in the Netherlands include:

When choosing a venue, consider its location, capacity, availability, cost, and the logistics of getting married there (some venues have their own rules about catering, decoration, and music).

3. Choose a Date and Time: When selecting your wedding date, consider factors like the weather, special dates for you and your partner, and the availability of your desired venue and key vendors. Saturdays are a popular choice, but a weekday wedding might offer more flexibility and cost savings.

4. Hire Vendors: Depending on the complexity of your ceremony, you may need to hire various vendors, such as:

  • Wedding Planner: This is especially helpful if you're organising a destination wedding or need help with local customs and logistics.
  • An officiant: Ensure they are legally recognised to perform weddings in your city.
  • A Photographer/Videographer: Book early, as the best ones often have their schedules filled months in advance.
  • Hair and Makeup Artists: To ensure you look your best, consider hiring professionals who can provide hair and makeup services on your wedding day.
  • Bakery for Wedding Cake: The Dutch love their sweets, so a beautiful and delicious wedding cake is a must. You might also want to include traditional Dutch treats like stroopwafels or poffertjes.
  • Music: Whether you want live music, a DJ, or a simple playlist, plan how music will be integrated into your ceremony.
  • A Florist: For bouquets, boutonnieres, and any venue decorations.
  • A Caterer: If your venue doesn’t provide food, you’ll need to hire a caterer.

5. Plan the Ceremony Details: Decide if you want to write your vows or stick with the traditional ones. Select your wedding party, including bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring-bearers, and flower girls. Don’t forget to decide on how you want the ceremony to unfold, from start to finish.

6. Have a Dress Rehearsal: A rehearsal is typically held the day before the wedding, especially for complex ceremonies or large wedding parties. This helps ensure everyone knows their roles and the event runs smoothly.

7. Personalise Your Ceremony: Incorporate elements that reflect your personalities and relationships. This could include unique music choices, a special reading, or a ritual that has personal significance.

8. Have So Much Fun!

Get Your Marriage Certificate

Getting your marriage certificate in the Netherlands is quite different from the way it is done in most countries. In most countries, you usually would get the certificate immediately. In the Netherlands, the original certificate belongs to the Municipality forever. Any time you need it, you can go to the municipality and request a copy or an extract. You will be given a copy or a multiple-language (international) extract of the certificate depending on what you ask for.

What is the Difference Between a Copy and an Extract?

A copy, also called a certified, official or authenticated copy, contains the same information as the certificate itself. It is only available in Dutch.

A multiple-language (international) extract, on the other hand, is a summary of the certificate. It comes in 10 languages: Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Turkish and Serbo-Croatian. 

If your copy or extract needs to be translated into a language apart from the ones listed above, you should contact certified translation services that are capable of translating your marriage certificate into any language, accurately. 

The fee for a copy or extract is €16.60 (excluding postage costs). You will receive the payment invoice by mail after you have applied. It takes three weeks to get your copy from the municipality.


How Quickly Can You Get Married in the Netherlands?

In the Netherlands, you can marry at any time, but you must register your intention to marry at least 2 weeks before your set wedding date.

How do I Get Into a Registered Partnership in the Netherlands?

To get into a registered partnership in the Netherlands, contact your local municipality and make an appointment with the registrar at least 2 weeks before the planned date of your registered partnership. You will be guided on the next steps to take and the documents to carry along for your appointment.

Can a Foreigner Get Married in the Netherlands?

Yes, a foreigner can get married in the Netherlands if they are marrying a Dutch national or if they or their intended spouse lives in the Netherlands. If they have no ties to the Netherlands, such as residency or a relationship with a Dutch national, they cannot get married in the Netherlands.

Does the Netherlands Give Citizenship by Marriage?

In the Netherlands, after you marry a Dutch citizen, you have to apply for naturalisation to become a citizen yourself. To apply, you must have lived together for at least 3 years as married or registered partners. You must remain married and continue to live together during the whole naturalisation process. If you lived in the Netherlands together with your partner immediately before your marriage or registered partnership, you can also include this time. At the time that you apply for naturalisation, your partner must have Dutch nationality. 

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