Marriage Abroad: Requirements for Destination Weddings

Created: Oct 16, 2019 | Updated: Nov 27, 2020

More and more couples in the United Kingdom are deciding to have their wedding abroad. And with good reason. Destination weddings increase the chance of getting good weather on your wedding day and significantly reduce the forever-increasing wedding costs. For some, their dream has always been to say ‘I do’ on the perfect stretch of sand, in the most idyllic location.

But nothing worth having comes easy, and the same applies to your marriage abroad. You need to do your research and make sure you are eligible to marry in that country, and that you produce the right documents. Failure to do so and your dream day can quickly turn in to an international disaster. In this article we’re going to help make sure that doesn’t happen by looking at the following:

  • Some brief information about marriage abroad;
  • The common documents you’ll need for marrying abroad;
  • Specific requirements;
  • How to prepare your documents for marriage abroad.

General information about destination weddings

You’ll probably be busy arranging your wedding dress, guest list and choice of venue among other things. However, before you tie the knot you need to make sure that your marriage abroad will meet the legal requirements for both the United Kingdom and the country in which you’re getting married.

You want your marriage to be legally recognised in the UK and in your destination wedding country of choice. As part of that process you’ll need to present the correct legal documentation, which may also need to be translated and legalised.

In Section 2 we’ll discuss some of the fundamental documents that you’ll need to present. There are some common documents that are required by the governing body of just about every country. In Section 3, we’ll look at the specific requirements of many popular wedding destinations, and what the local requirements are for your translated document. Section 4 explains how to get your documents ready before you head abroad.


After the Wedding

Don’t forget that you will need to gather several copies of your marriage certificate after the big day. If you need to submit this document for any reason in the future, you’ll probably need to have it translated as it’s likely to be presented in the language of the country of your marriage.


Marriage Abroad: Doing your research

We’re going to provide you with all of the information you need to get started, but you’ll still need to check the UK Government website to find out everything you need to know about the specific requirements in each country. There can be a lot of variations depending on your circumstances. It’s also worth noting that an ‘official translation’ is produced differently in many countries.

Using the UK Government website, you’ll be able to find out:

  • if your same-sex marriage or civil partnership is legal;
  • which specific documents you will need to present;
  • whether you need to obtain a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI);
  • whether or not you need to provide a statutory declaration;
  • if your Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) and statutory declaration need to be legalised or translated.

You should also consider contacting the foreign embassy to make sure that there are no nasty surprises further down the line, and that you’ll arrive with all of the paperwork you need. Since there can be work backlogs, you’ll need to contact them with plenty of time and make sure that you organise all of your documents before you head abroad.


Symbolic blessings and ceremonies

Some couples may choose to officially marry in the United Kingdom, then celebrate their marriage abroad. This is achieved by registering your marriage in the UK, then organising a symbolic ceremony or symbolic blessing abroad. Your marriage won’t be officially recognised in that foreign country, but you’ll have a personalised ceremony in your dream destination and you’ll already be legally married in the United Kingdom.

This is particularly useful for same-sex couples that want to be married, but their wedding destination of choice doesn’t legally accept same-sex marriage.

Once again, you’ll need to do your research, as there are normally still legal requirements and civil administrative procedures that you’ll need to follow for your symbolic ceremony. And, unfortunately, it’s likely that you will be required to present all of the same documentation need that you would need for a full and legal marriage abroad.


Getting Married Abroad: Legal Requirements & Documentation 

Your marriage abroad is still bound by the laws of your home country, even though it does not need to be registered in the United Kingdom. That being the case, there are some essential documents you will need to present, no matter which country you are getting married in. Depending on your circumstances there could also be further document requirements.


Essential documents

In the table below, you’ll find some of the key documents that you’ll need for any marriage or civil partnership abroad, and whether or not legalisation and translation is a requirement.

DocumentWhy Do You Need It?Is Legalisation Required?Is Translation Required?
PassportTo confirm your name and establish citizenshipNoNo
Original birth certificate/adoption certificateProof of age and place of birthYes, in certain countriesYes
Decree absolute/divorce certificateProof of previous marriage and evidence of divorce. Confirms that you are legally able to re-marryYes, in certain countriesYes
Death certificateTo confirm the death of a previous partner. Also confirms that you are legally able to re-marryYes, in certain countriesYes
Proof of name changeConfirms that your name was changed as part of a previous marriage. Also confirms your identity in line with your passportYes, in certain countriesYes


Other possible requirements for Marriage Abroad

Every country is different, but it’s also highly likely that you’ll need to present some of the documentation shown in the table below as part of your marriage abroad.

DocumentWhy Do You Need It?Is Legalisation Required?Is Translation Required?
Certificate of No Impediment (CNI)Evidence that there is no legal obstruction to your marriageYes, almost alwaysYes
Statutory declarationA formal statement that declares the information in the CNI to be accurate and trueYes, almost alwaysYes
Medical screening documentationIn certain countries you may have to legally prove certain health conditions before marriageNoNo


It’s almost certain that you will need to obtain a certified translation of your Certificate of No Impediment (CNI), even when it has already been legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth office.

Certain countries will also have special residency requirements for your marriage abroad. 


The Most Popular Marriage Destinations

We’ve compiled all of the important documentation information you need to know about marriage abroad in 10 of the most popular destinations. Many of these countries have different stipulations for documents you will need to present. As well as the essential documents we’ve mentioned above, we’ve detailed all of the additional documents you’ll need in each country.

The legal requirements for acceptable translations also vary. In some nations, a Sworn translator will be able to work on your document and guarantee that it meets local criteria. In other countries, a translator’s work may only become certified when they take an oath in a local court and confirm that they are a member of the Government-approved translation body.

In some countries, you may also be required to make appointments with the high commission to register details of your intention to marry.

You can click through the below links for additional information about the legal requirements in some of the most popular wedding locations globally:

  1. Getting married in Croatia
  2. Cyprus Wedding Requirements
  3. Requirements for Wedding in Greece
  4. Indonesia Marriage Requirements
  5. Getting Married in Italy
  6. Malta Marriage License
  7. Mexico Marriage Requirements
  8. Portugal Marriage Requirements
  9. Thailand Marriage Requirements
  10. Wedding in Turkey Legal Requirements


Getting Married Abroad: Preparing your Documents


How to get your CNI

The Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) is an official government issued document provides evidence that there is no known impediment preventing you from marrying. It’s proof that there has been no outright objection to your future marriage. Your Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) will have a set price depending on your destination wedding choice. 

Simply make an appointment at your local register office, which you can find here. You’ll need to inform them of your intention to marry or form a civil partnership overseas, and let them know why you need the Certificate of No Impediment (CNI).

The notice of your intention to marry will be publicly displayed for 28 days. After that time, and as long as nobody has officially registered an objection, you can collect your Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) document. Certificate of No Impediments (CNIs) issued in Scotland will expire after 3 months.

In some situations, especially if you’re a British national living abroad, you may have to contact your local British Embassy instead. 


How to get your Statutory Declaration

The statutory declaration, as previously mentioned, is a formal statement confirming that specific information is factual and true to the best knowledge of the person declaring it. In this case, they can be used to confirm name, nationality and marital status.

Statutory declarations need to satisfy a legal requirement and therefore must be completely accurate. In the UK, it will need to be signed in the presence of a solicitor. Standard wording is used for the declaration template and a solicitor will ensure that it is completely impartial.


How to legalise your documents

Much of the time, you’ll be asked to present ‘legalised’ versions of the documents you need for marriage abroad. The UK Legalisation Office will check your document to make sure that it includes a valid signature, stamp or seal. An apostille (an official stamped certificate) will legalise the document and confirm that it is genuine.

Your document will then be acceptable in any country that’s a member of the Hague Convention. You can find out everything you need to know about legalising documents on the official UK Government website.

There’s a small chance that you may require a legalised document for a country which is not part of the Hague Convention. Documents which must be submitted for marriage in a country which is outside of the Hague Convention will require a further Embassy Legalisation.

The apostille will still be attached to the document, but additional legalisation will then be carried out by the embassy of that country. This can be a timely and complex process that will add to your legalisation costs.

Some of the more popular destination marriage countries outside of the Hague Convention are:

  • United Arab Emirates;
  • Egypt;
  • Vietnam;
  • China;
  • Qatar;
  • Jordan;
  • Algeria;
  • Kuwait.


How to get a translation of your documents

As you can see, document translations can be complicated. There can be strict criteria, depending on where you’ll need to use your translated document, as well as many different types of translation.

Certified translations are translated documents which are signed, dated and stamped by an official translator or professional translation company. This is normally done by a government-approved translator who confirms that the translated text is accurate and true. The certified translation will then be suitable for legal use.

Certified translations are officially recognised translations which confirm that a document has been translated to an acceptable standard. This standardises the legal use of documents originally written in a foreign language. Sounds simple, right?

Unfortunately, some countries have very different criteria for what consists of an ‘official’ and certified translation. In Brazil, for example, the translator must be local and accepted by the Brazilian government. Other countries, such as Italy and France, require that your translator is ‘Sworn’ and has taken oath in a local court. Contrarily, in countries like Greece a professional translator is sufficient.

You need to make sure that your translated document meets the local criteria and will be acceptable for legal use (including your marriage). That’s why you need the services of a professional translation body agency that fully understand the local translation requirements.

At Translayte, we offer translations that are guaranteed to be accepted in the country you’ve chosen to get married in. We ensure that we use locally approved translators. This means that whether you need a Sworn translator, an apostille or a certified translation, we’ll get the right type of translation back to you.

We translate documents in over 130 different languages and are a fully certified Member of the Association of Translation Companies. Much of the time, we’ll get your document back to you within 24 hours too.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with our team today to see how we can help with all of your translation needs.

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