Everyone wants to have a dream wedding. Getting married in exotic foreign locales is now becoming common. While the thought of getting married in exotic and romantic settings is indeed very exciting, you must check with the local laws of the foreign country to ensure that your marriage will be legally recognized when your return back to the US after your marriage.
The marriage laws vary by country. In most countries you will require a valid US passport, birth certificate and some form of residency proof. In some countries you may have to undergo blood tests and other medical tests. Certain countries such as France have a residency requirement – you must have lived in that country for a certain number of days before you can get married in that country. If you are planning on getting married in another country, check with the local laws to avoid complications when your return back to the United States.
This Section has useful information for US citizens wanting to get married abroad.
Generally, a marriage that is legal and valid in the country where the marriage took place will be legally recognized in the United States. To know more about the validity of a marriage in a foreign country, contact the Attorney General of your state.
Officiating the Marriage
Marriages in a foreign country cannot be performed or officiated by US Embassy or Consular staff. It must be performed by the persons authorized to do so by the local laws and customs. You cannot perform your marriage on the premises of the US Embassy or Consulate. The US Embassy or Consulate has nothing to do with the validity of your marriage. Your marriage will be recognized in the United States if it is performed according to the laws and customs of the country. You can have your marriage documents authenticated by the US Embassy or Consulate by paying a $32 authentication fee.
Foreign Laws and Procedures
To know more about the laws and procedure relating to marriage in a foreign country, contact the Embassy or Consulate or Tourist Office of that country. The US Embassy or Consulate located in that country may also be in a position to provide you with useful information.
The foreign country may have a residency requirement – you must be living in that country for certain number of days before your marriage.
Documentation and Authentication
In most countries you must produce your valid US passport. You may also have to provide your birth certificate. If you were previously married, you must provide proof of your divorce or death of your previous spouse. You may be required to have copies of these documents authenticated at the Embassy or Consulate of that country in the United States.
The legal age for marriage varies from country to country. Generally parental consent in the form of a notarized declaration is required if either party is under the age of 18. You may be required to have parental consent declaration authenticated at the Embassy or Consulate of that country in the United States.
Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry
In most countries, especially civil law countries, you must submit an affidavit or declaration stating that you are eligible to get married and there is no legal obstacle to your marriage. Some countries have a prescribed format for such affidavit or declaration. Some countries will allow you to execute the affidavit or declaration at their Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Others will require that you execute this document at the US Embassy or Consulate in that country. The US Embassy or Consulate will charge a fee of $55 for this service.
In some countries you may have to undergo blood and medical tests. In countries where English is not the official language, you may be required to provide translated copies of your documents.
Loss of US Citizenship
In some countries, you will automatically become a citizen of that country or be eligible for naturalization by virtue of your marriage to a national of that country. This will not affect your US citizenship. However if you apply for naturalization on your own, it will result in the loss of your US citizenship. If you are planning to apply for naturalization, contact the US Embassy or Consulate.
Marriage to an Alien
Contact the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to know more about the legal requirements and immigration rules on marriage to an alien. You can also get this information from the State Department (Telephone: 202-663-1225) and the US embassies and consulates abroad.