So you’ve found yourself a German soulmate and now you want to make that commitment last forever – at least legally speaking. Here's a guide to help get you through the paperwork-filled process.
Where to go
In Germany, only marriages at a Standesamt (registry office) are considered legally valid – so that church ceremony doesn’t actually count for anything.
You also have to apply for marriage at the Standesamt in person as a couple – though there are rare exceptions – and you must get married within six months of this registration.
German footballer Mario Gomez and wife Carina Wanzung leaving a Standesamt in Munich. Photo: DPA.
The kinds of documents you need depends on where you’re from, and also where in Germany you’ll be registering your marriage. The city-state of Berlin, for example, states simply that engaged couples should seek individual consultation to find out what sort of paperwork is required. In general though, you’ll probably need some form of identification and your birth certificate, perhaps even a long-form one.
You may also need to show proof that you’ve registered your address with the city.
And in some states, like Baden-Württemberg, you may be asked to have your documents translated into German by officially appointed translators.
Proof of single status
Non-EU citizens often need to get something called a Ehefähigkeitszeugnis (also known as a CNI in some countries) from their home country, which verifies that they are free to marry.
US citizens are also advised to have an Apostille – basically a certification that your documents are valid in both Germany and the US. Citizens of other countries might also have to obtain one of these.
Canadian citizens may likewise be asked for a Ehefähigkeitszeugnis, also called a Ledigkeitsbescheinigung. To obtain one of these, Canadians must submit to their country’s authorities a certified copy of the second and third pages of their passports; a certified copy of their birth or citizenship certificate; and a written declaration of their current marital status along with their address in Germany and future spouse’s name.
But depending on where you are in Germany, for example in Bavaria, you may be able to simply give a declaration of your prior single status directly at the Standesamt.
UK citizens, meanwhile, have to apply for an exemption from the Ehefähigkeitszeugnis (Befreiung von der Beibringung des Ehefähigkeitszeugnisses) from the regional German authority (Oberlandesgericht) where they want to marry.
Other possible documents
The Australian embassy also advises its citizens to bring along a salary statement or bank statements, on which administrative marriage fees could be based.
Australia also recommends showing proof of divorce if you had a prior marriage, or the former partner’s death certificate, as evidence that any prior marriages are no longer valid.
Getting married on a Saturday can cost extra
Aside from all the fabulous wedding plans you may be concocting, just getting the legal stuff done can cost a pretty penny. Bavaria, for example, lists a minimum of €70 for reviewing the foreign partner’s eligibility for marriage alone, noting that there could be other fees.
In Berlin, there’s an €80 fee for applying for marriage and a review of whether the marriage requirements have been met, as well as a €10 fee for the marriage certificate.
In Frankfurt, the fee for registering a marriage increases from €42 to €63 when the laws of a foreign partner's country have to be considered. The marriage certificate costs €11. And if you want to get hitched at a particularly lovely Standesamt in the finance hub, you'll have to dish out even more dough: the charming, timber-framed Seckbacher Rathaus costs an extra €357, the Palmengarten's Standesamt hall costs €395, and the Nikolauskapelle costs €435.
Hamburg states that fees range between €88 and €122.50 total, noting that there could also be extra charges for things like getting married on a Saturday.