Lovely happy couple after wedding

Firstly, let us congratulate you on your upcoming wedding! If you’ve landed here, it’s because you’ve been drawn in by the lure of sun, sand and exotic wedding feasts. But before you go jetting off to more exciting lands, there are a few things you need to know about the legal side of getting married abroad. Luckily, we’ve done your homework for you.

You Probably Won’t Be Getting Officially Married Abroad

Different countries have different laws about marriage and civil ceremonies, so depending on what country you choose, you might not be able to get officially married in that country. For example, in Spain, you can only marry there if you’ve been a resident of the country for 2 years, or are originally from Spain. In other countries, like Italy, you can marry, but it has to be done within an official town hall because most wedding venues can’t marry you on their grounds.  If you want to get married in Turkey, you have to have been in the country for 24 hours, so you will need to make arrangements for it. Sure, there are some countries where you can have the official ceremony there, but this results in a foreign wedding certificate, which can cause all sorts of problems down the line (more on that later). If you follow all of the marriage laws for the country you are marrying in, then your marriage should be valid in the UK and you won’t need to register it. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have checked with the local authority of the country you want to get married in, so that you know exactly what their requirements are and if you meet them. If you want to know exactly what you will need, the government also has a great online tool that can tell you what documents you need and how to apply for them for each individual country – find out more here – www.gov.uk/marriage-abroad 

There Is A Lot Of Paperwork Involved

If you’re going to get married abroad, you need to be prepared for a lot of paperwork. Depending on which country you want to get married in, you might need different levels of proof and paperwork. For example, you will need proof of identification, residence, all of the standard paperwork required for any marriage in the UK. You will also need a certificate of no impediment (or CIN), which confirms there are no objections to your marriage and a statutory declaration (used to confirm your single status). Because there is so much paperwork to do done, you should leave at least 6 months to get it all together and processed.

Foreign Wedding Certificates

We mentioned earlier that foreign wedding certificates could cause some problems. This is because English courts will only see foreign marriages as valid in the UK if certain criteria are met. These criteria are that:

  • The marriage ceremony must be a valid form of marriage by the law of the country of celebration
  • The marriage must comply with all procedures and regulations under the law of the country of celebration. This includes giving notice of the ceremony and having the relevant number of witnesses.
  • Each party to the marriage, under the law of the country where they live, must have the capacity to marriage. This covers issues like gender, age, consent and mental capacity, to prevent abuses of overseas laws.
  • Any previous marriages of either party must have validly terminated, either by divorce, annulment, judicial separation or death, by English law, and;
  • There must be evidence of the marriage (i.e. a marriage certificate or the equivalent). The original certificate will be required, which must be translated and certified.

If these conditions are met, then you shouldn’t have a problem. However if they aren’t, or there is some doubt, then the marriage will have to be proven in an English court. Without this step, a foreign marriage certificate can have a significant impact on issues following any separation, including divorce, financial remedies, the legitimacy of children, tax, wills, inheritance and immigration.

If you’re thinking about getting married abroad, it’s always worth making sure everything is above board before you start laying out the cash. At Caversham Solicitors, we can help you understand what you need to get married abroad and help you through the process as smoothly as possible. For more information, or to set up a consultation with one of our solicitors, get in touch with us today.