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Moving to Germany For Members

EXPLAINED: How to have your marriage abroad recognised in Germany

Aaron Burnett
Aaron Burnett - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: How to have your marriage abroad recognised in Germany
A newlywed couple pose on the Alexander III bridge in Paris. If getting married abroad, there's an extra step to having it recognized in Germany. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Moving to Germany? Or have you lived here a while and just decided to get married abroad? You should advise the German authorities that you’ve tied the knot – particularly if you’re married to a German or other EU national - as it has implications for your tax and residency rights. Here’s how.

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If you got married outside of Germany before moving here – or if you already live in Germany but opted for a beachside wedding in Spain or the excitement of a Las Vegas wedding chapel, you’ll typically need to advise German authorities.

This is especially true if at least one partner is German.

READ ALSO: Here's how to marry a German as an expat

Does Germany consider my marriage valid?

In most cases, yes.

If the marriage performed abroad was conducted in the customary manner that the country typically observes, and is a legal marriage in that country – Germany will typically consider it valid in Germany as well.

You then just need to go about proving it.

READ ALSO: I just got married in Germany. How does this affect my taxes?

Two golden wedding rings on a rock

Registering a foreign marriage in Germany is a fairly easy process, and grants a load of rights. Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

What documents do I need?

To do this, make an appointment at your local registry office and present your marriage certificate. If you’re moving to Germany for the first time, you can try simply bringing your marriage certificate with you to your first appointment registering your residence (Anmeldung), along with your passport and birth certificate.

Official documents such as your marriage certificate may need to be authenticated depending on which country the document is from. German authorities won’t require this step if the certificate is from one of the 125 signatories of the Hague Convention, which includes European countries, the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Brazil, and India - just to name a few.

'Ja, Ich will': What it's like to get married in Germany

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If in doubt, it’s a good idea to check in with the responsible German mission abroad, who can then authenticate the document. They cannot, however, legally translate it into German. You also can't get married at a German mission abroad.

In most cases, you won’t need your marriage certificate authenticated. However, if the certificate is in a language other than German, you may need to have it translated by a court-approved translator. Documents issues in English are often accepted, but this may depend on your local authority.

If your certificate is from another EU country, you can request an EU multilingual standard form from that country’s authorities. The form, when presented together with your original document, can be used as a translation aid. Germany will typically waive the requirement for a certified translation if you have one of these. The forms, however, are only available in other EU countries.

READ ALSO: 10 things you need to know about German weddings

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What if one of us is German?

Before the German partner gets married abroad, they may be required to get a “certificate of no impediment” (Ehefähigkeitszeugnis) from German authorities – which simply certifies that they are not married already and thus can marry. This certificate is available either at local authority offices in Germany or from the relevant German mission abroad. It’s typically valid for six months.

If the German partner is divorced, they may need a copy of the divorce certificate from a German court as well.

Unlike some nationalities, Germans who are married abroad aren't legally required to inform the German authorities of their marriage abroad if they're not resident in Germany. However, it may still be wise to register a marriage abroad with a German consulate in order for the German partner to pass on their German citizenship to any children they may have.

EXPLAINED: Who is entitled to German citizenship by descent and how to apply for it

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Comments (1)

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Stan Carr 2023/12/13 07:06
When we moved to Germany 2-1/2 years ago, the local city administrator refused to register us as a married couple because our marriage certificate from the U.S. was not written in German. We proved our marriage status only by going to a company in Munich who provided an endorsed document. After 25 years of marriage, we were stunned by the negative attitude of the small-town local official. Our landlord accompanied us to the residential registration meeting and we were only able to register our residency because of the landlord’s insistence. When we moved to a larger city, we felt welcomed. The lessen was that an administrator can ignore official rules. Sometimes it’s best to find a friendly one. In any case, we love living here and want to remain as residents.

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