Marriage Abroad

U.S. embassy and consulate personnel cannot perform marriages in foreign countries. Depending on the law of the foreign country, local civil or religious officials generally perform marriages. Marriages performed overseas are considered valid in the country where they take place if they are entered into in accordance with local law. Recognition of the validity of marriages performed abroad depends on the laws of the place in which the marriage is to be recognized.

The process of marrying overseas can be time-consuming and expensive. Procedures vary from country to country, and some require lengthy preparation. If you plan to marry in a foreign country, you should find out the requirements of that country before you travel.

Some of the requirements you might encounter are:

  • Parties must be resident in that country for a specified period of time before a marriage may be performed there.
  • Blood tests.
  • Minimum age for the parties who are being married.
  • Parental consent.
  • Documents certifying the end of any previous relationship (such as death or divorce certificates), translated into the local language, and authenticated.
  • Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry: Some countries require an affidavit by the parties as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. No such government-issued document exists in the United States. You may execute such an affidavit at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. embassy or consulate cannot attest to your marital status. However, most countries will accept a statement from you regarding your ability to marry if your signature on the affidavit has been notarized by a U.S. consular officer.

Contact the embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where you plan to marry to learn about specific requirements. You can also find foreign embassy and consulate contact information in the Country Information the Department of State publishes for each country. If you are already abroad, you may wish to consult with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Validity of Marriages Abroad

If you get married abroad and need to know if your marriage will be recognized in the United States and what documentation may be needed, contact the office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States.

Marriage to a Foreign Citizen

You can get information on obtaining a visa for a foreign spouse here.

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Last Updated: November 22, 2022