How to obtain a marriage licence in Germany

So, you would like to get married in Germany? This is quite possible and, like all matters in Germany, even if it is not particularly simple it is at least well documented!

The first step is to visit the local Standesamt. This will be the office in the town in which you are registered as living. If you are living in Germany without being registered, i.e. you are living in Germany illegally, then you cannot do this! If you do not live in Germany but wish to visit the country and marry there, then I guess that you should ask your nearest germany Consulate but I have no idea at all as to whether or not this is possible.

At the Standesamt, you will be asked a large number of questions about yourself and your fiancee. They will want to know about your nationality, past marital history, any children that you have etc.They will then refer to their book of regulations for you and for you fiancee. In there, they will find a list of documents that you must produce. This list will depend on your own details and so, you are unlikely to be asked for exactly the same documents for your fiancee as for you.

Just to make things more interesting, each of the separate Laender within Germany has its own version of this list so, where you live also has an effect on the documents required. In my own case, things would have been a lot easier had I lived in Bayern rather than in Baden-Wurtemburg!

OK, once you have the list, you need to set about obtaining the documents. Some, such as your birth certificate, are obvious and straightforward. I had to produce the original of my fiancees parents marriage certificate!

You really should get this list before your fiancee leaves her own country so that she can bring with her, or send to you, any documents that she must produce.

Every document must be produced in original form and with a certified translation into German. For documents in Russian, for example, it will be a lot cheaper to have these translations done in Russia than in Germany. We had no problems having these translations accepted. Do remember to ask for certified translations. THese cost more than non-certified ones but they are essential.

One document that caused us problems was a letter from the Russian authorities saying that my fiancee was free to marry. The registry office in St.Petersburg simply said that they did not issue documents such as this. However, the Russian Consulate in Muenchen issued it on payment of a DeM50 fee with no formalities at all!

So, once you have the documents and certified translations, you must take them to the Standesamt. They will be checked and, if all are in order, they will proceed directly to the next step.

You must attend the office, with your fiancee and, unless you are both fluent in German, with one or two translators as required. You will both be asked a fairly simple set of questions. For example, I was asked "Are you aware that your fiancee was previously married, is divorced and has a child by that marriage whom she expects will live with you after the marriage?" At this point, there was a large thud and said child emerged from underneath the registrar's desk clutching his head and crying. :-)

You will also be asked what you wish to do about names after the marriage.

Once this hurdle is passed, you must pay a fee and the papers are posted off to the court in the nearest large town for examination.

This takes about two weeks and, after that, the court will issue the marriage licence. You can then make an appointment to attend the Standesamt for the civil marriage itself.

For this, you will need to bring translators as before and also witnesses. The witnesses must bring their passports!

The civil marriage formalities themselves are short and simple.

After the marriage, you will want to arrange long term residence permission and perhaps change the name in your wife's passport. You can read about this on the next page.

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