Here’s how to marry a German as an expat

Getting married in Germany isn't as simple as eloping and having an Elvis impersonator read out your vows. Here's what you should know as an expat.

Here's how to marry a German as an expat
File photo: DPA.

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.

Basic documents

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.

SEE ALSO: The traditions you should know before a German wedding

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 

Photo: DPA.

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.

READ ALSO: Ten beautiful ways to express your love in Germany


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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.