Many marriages abroad are subject to the residency requirements of the country in which the marriage is to be performed. Residency requirements vary throughout each country with some countries requiring one-month residency period, with some countries just being at 24 hours or no waiting period.
In addition, some countries require certain types of paperwork and even medical tests before you can get married within their country. The best thing to do is to consult with a local U.S consulate for guidance.
What Documentation is Required to get Married Abroad?
For any wedding in another country, you must bring a valid passport and birth. If you have been married previously, bring the divorce decree or annulment certificate that proves you are free to marry.
Some countries have a requirement that these documents need to be translated into their language and notarized as official copies. Most countries at least have documentation requirements, such as:
- A valid U.S. passport;
- Birth certificates;
- Divorce decrees;
- Parental consent (for people under certain age e.g. 18); and/or
- Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry.
Note that the marriage documents must be presented to the marriage registrar well before the marriage occurs.
What About Parental Consent for the Marriage of Minors?
The age of majority for marriage varies from one country to another. Persons under the age of 18 must present a written, notarized statement of consent from their parents. Some countries also require the parental consent statement to be authenticated by a consular official of that foreign country in the United States.
What is the Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry Requirement?
All civil law countries require proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. This usually is a certification by competent authority that no impediment exists to the marriage. Some countries also require witnesses who will execute affidavits that the parties are free to marry. The United States does not have such a requirement.
What Questions Should I ask the U.S Consulate or Embassy?
Before you go to another country and try to get married, be sure you know the requirements by calling the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to ask the following questions:
- What legal documents are required?
- Are medical tests required?
- Tests for contagious diseases like tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV, etc.
- How long will the process take?
- Is there a residency requirement for that country?
- Do you need witnesses?
- Are there any special requirements for a religious ceremony vs. a civil ceremony?
Keep in mind that some nations may not allow individuals with a criminal record to enter their country. So if you have a criminal record, even a minor one where you have served your time, you can be barred from entering the country based on their requirements. Before you travel, be sure to conduct research on the country you wish to travel to make sure that you will be able to enter and not turned away at the border.
What about My Nationality Status When I Get Married Abroad?
In some countries, marriage to a national of that country will automatically make the spouse either a citizen of that country or eligible to become naturalized in that country expeditiously. The automatic acquisition of a second nationality will not affect U.S. citizenship. However, naturalization in a foreign country on one's own application or the application of a duly authorized agent may cause you to lose U.S. citizenship.
Should I Contact an Attorney about Getting Married Abroad?
Getting married abroad can be a complicated process. An experienced family lawyer can help you prepare any documents you need to make sure your foreign marriage is legal. A family attorney can also help you establish your marriage status in the United States.