Will our wedding in Italy be legally recognised and what documentation do we need to produce to ensure it is?
This is a question which often pops up in my inbox. In order to iron out the details, Jo Daye from Accent Events has come to the rescue and answers some of the most common concerns surrounding the legal requirements for civil weddings in Italy.
Note: It is important to keep in mind that if you intend on having a Catholic wedding ceremony in Italy, you will also need to fulfil additional requirements set by the church. For all other religions you must first have a civil wedding ceremony.
Civil Weddings in Italy – Legal Process
Italy remains one of Europe’s top wedding destinations and with so many beautiful and unique locations together with delicious dining, wonderful weather and the warm Mediterranean welcome the country offers, it’s easy to understand why.
If you are both British citizens, the legal requirements for civil weddings in Italy is relatively simple, which is good news, however you must ensure that you follow the correct process and meet certain requirements.
There will be variations to these steps if one of you is from another country (Australian, Canadian, USA, Ireland) where the process is different, it is for the individual to fulfil the requirements of his/her home country. This is not covered here but please contact us if you have any questions.
There are 4 key steps to obtain the necessary paperwork
You will need to obtain:
- Certificate of No Impediment (CNI), one for each individual
- Statutory Declaration (Dichiarazione Giurata) – bilingual document, one for each individual
- 4 Apostille stamps
- Translation of the Certificate of No Impediment into Italian with court stamps, this must take place IN Italy as these documents will become official Italian documents.
Certificates of No Impediment (CNI)
The first step is to book an appointment with your local registry office in the UK. This cannot be more than six months from the date of your wedding as the Certificate of No Impediment is valid for six months from the date of issue. You and your UK citizen fiancé will require a CNI each. You may be asked to bring along supporting documentation. Passport, proof of address.
Please be aware that the CNI can take up to 28 days to be issued and this should be factored into the timeline for applying for documents to ensure you will have all the documentation for your legal wedding – spontaneous elope couples take note!
Statutory Declaration (Dichiarazione Giurata)
While you are waiting for your Certificates of No Impediment you can do the Statutory Declaration document which is a bilingual document (English on left hand-side and Italian on right hand-side). The document should be completed in front of a Notary or Solicitor. You may be asked to take along supporting documents, birth certificates, divorce certificates, name change, proof of address.
Each individual will need to do a Statutory Declaration. When completing this document it is very important to complete the fields carefully.
Please do NOT sign and date the document until you are with the solicitor/notary.
Please ensure that when you write your name it should be as it appears on your passport and if you have not previously been married it should be the same as on your birth certificate.
Any discrepancy can result in your documentation being rejected by the town hall in Italy. If you are unsure about completing the Statutory Declaration please contact a wedding planner in Italy.
Hague Apostille stamps
Apostille stamps are obtained from the Legalisation Department of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in Milton Keynes.
Once the CNIs and the Statutory Declarations are complete all documents are to be sent to the Foreign & Commonwealth Legalisation Department at Milton Keynes. It is not possible or necessary to go in person. The documents are to be sent by courier/post or if you opt to use a Solicitor they can arrange to send the CNIs and Statutory declaration to the Legalisation Department to get the Apostilles. Four Apostilles, one for each document is required.
Translation of documents in Italy
The two CNIs will now need to be translated into Italian. This step must take place in Italy as the translations will become official Italian document. The translated CNIs will then be legalised by the Italian authorities by issuing of official stamps which are obtained at Tribunale Office. The Statutory Declaration document is already in English and Italian with Hague Apostille. When complete all documents are to be sent to the Comune – Town Hall where the wedding will take place.
Note: The Comune – Town Hall may require additional documentation – this should be checked at the time of booking the date/time for the wedding.
UK citizens residing in third country (not UK or Italy)
There is a new process for expats that do not live in the UK or Italy. The process is more involved as there are two options available:
- Return to the UK and post notice with UK registrar (7 days residency requirement)
- Go to Rome and post notice at the UK Embassy – contact a wedding planner in Italy for a full explanation of what is required to ensure that you correctly following the procedure for the legal requirements for civil weddings in Italy for UK non residents.
Residency Requirement & Regulations
Most Town Halls will waiver the residency requirement for foreign couples. However, it is advisable to arrive four days prior to your wedding day, particularly if you are undertaking the legal paperwork yourselves. In some parts of Italy the Comune – Town Hall request the couple do a Declaration of Marriage. This can be two or three days before the wedding. If the couple do not speak Italian an Interpreter will need to accompany the couple.
Other important information
A divorced female is not permitted to enter into marriage until 300 days have lapsed on issue of the Decree Absolute. A special dispensation can be made to the Tribunale which may be granted in certain circumstances. This situation does not apply to divorced males – men can be married the next day!
The application for the CNI and completing the Statutory Declaration should NOT be made more than six months prior to the date of the wedding in Italy. For Scotland it is no more than three months before the wedding date.
If neither person speaks Italian, by law an interpreter must be present at the civil ceremony and at the pre-wedding Declaration of Marriage.
Two witnesses over the age of 18 years are required to sign the registrar.
Multilingual Wedding Certificate will be issued. Italy signed to the Vienna Convention of 8 September 1976 – to provide multilingual extracts from civil documents. Couples should receive a multilingual version of the extracts of the civil register of marriage. Make sure to request several copies of your marriage certificate.
There is no legal requirement to lodge your wedding abroad with the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths. If the couple choose to do this the GRO will take the original copy of the marriage certificate and will issue certified copies on request. Alternatively the couple can organise their own safekeeping of the marriage certificate(s).
In May 2016 Italy became last Western European country to join the list of over 20 worldwide countries that have legalised same-sex weddings and it now recognises civil unions. You can find out more about same-sex weddings in Italy here.
Note: Information on the legal requirements for civil weddings in Italy subject to change, correct as of July 2021.
Photography of Katie & Sam’s wedding in Italy by Francesco Quaglia
Legal Requirements for Civil Weddings in Italy
Jo Daye (Virtual Planning Consultations)
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