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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: What you need to marry overseas

January 21st, 2023 5:50 PM

By Southern Star Team

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: What you need to marry overseas Image
Lots of couples will have got engaged over Christmas and are planning to marry abroad this year – they’ll need to take note of the additional paperwork involved, and get organised. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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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.

What are the 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 and to find out what document you require. Ireland’s General Register Office has no involvement in marriages abroad.

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

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?

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.

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.

When should I apply?

You should submit your application at least four 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


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.

How do I ensure that my marriage is recognised in Ireland?

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.

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

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.

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