If you picture yourself tying the knot abroad, choosing the right destination is not only about finding the perfect wedding venue but also establishing the legalities behind saying ‘I Do’.

Requirements and restrictions differ widely for UK citizens marrying in foreign countries, so before you get your heart set on a particular location, it’s worth noting the formalities of getting married abroad.

Destination Wedding Legalities for International Marriage

Some countries, in Europe have residency requirements disallowing legal civil ceremonies between two UK citizens. These countries offer incredible backdrops and locations ideal for weddings, in this instance you can consider opting for a symbolic ceremony or blessing and complete the legalities back home at your local registry office.

If however you wish to say ‘I Do’ abroad to form a legally binding marriage in the UK, we have collated our top destinations to consider and the information you need, from documentation required to the process formalities.

Documentation you will need to get married abroad

Firstly, there’s a couple of documents you will need wherever you legally choose to get married abroad, most obvious being a passport. Ensure the timescale you have left on your passport is sufficient for your intended travel and marriage formalities.

You will also need a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) to legally marry abroad, this formally states there are no reasons as to why you can’t marry and proves that you are free to get married. This document will need to be obtained from the UK government but you will need to follow the guidance from the local authorities where your ceremony is going to take place. Your CNI may need to be legalised and translated.

The following information on destination wedding legalities relates to UK citizen couples of the opposite sex wishing to marry abroad…

Italy

UK couples can have a legal civil or Roman Catholic ceremony in Italy, providing the right documentation is obtained. From the exquisite Tuscan countryside to the historic cities of Rome and Florence, the country has some of the most outstanding beauty spots in the world to exchange vows.

Documentation you will need

You will each need a CNI and a statutory declaration, which will be issued in the UK after you give 28 days notice of marriage and no objections are made. A statutory declaration will need to be signed in front of a solicitor or public notary in the UK.

These documents will then need to be legalised and translated, and eventually handed to the person who is going to officially marry you in Italy. (more info at Gov.uk)

What you should know

Documentation needs to go through the correct process and to be signed off by the right officials both in the UK and abroad to ensure you are legally fit to wed. The process can be started from 6 months prior to your wedding date and although can be managed by yourself, the help of a planner or wedding coordinator would certainly be beneficial, especially if you are not familiar with the exact location you wish to hold your ceremony.

Same sex civil partnerships can take place in Italy when the documentation as stated above is provided. You must wait 300 days to marry after a recent divorce or death of a spouse.

Read More | Getting Married in Italy

Spain

Civil ceremonies can only take place in Spain if either the bride or groom are residents for at least 2 years, so unless you plan on moving out to Spain and becoming an official resident prior to getting married, as a UK couple you can’t have a legal civil ceremony here.

However, if one or both of you are of the Catholic faith, you can legally marry in a Spanish Catholic Church. If this is the right option for you, start conversations with your priest at home who should be able to liaise with officials in Spain.

What you will need for a Catholic Wedding in Spain & Ibiza

  • A valid 10-year passport
  • A baptism certificate
  • Confirmation certificate
  • Certificate of no impediments (CNI)
  • Certificate of completion of pre-marriage course

Other religious ceremonies can be performed in Spain involving UK citizens, speak to officials in your religious setting to establish the formalities. Protestant, Islamic or Jewish couple’s will need to apply through the local municipality or registry office.

Is Spain the best place for you to get married abroad?

Put simply, you either need to be Spanish or of a particular faith such as Catholic to legally marry in Spain. With its contemporary seafront platforms, exclusive wedding villas and Spanish country houses, there’s a huge draw to get married here.

Many UK couples opt for a gorgeous blessing in Spain and its surrounding stunning islands for idyllic sun-kissed weddings and perform the legalities back in the UK.

DiscoverStunning Wedding Venues in Spain

Ibiza

The legal requirements to marry in Ibiza mirror those of mainland Spain. You will find all of the necessary information above regarding residency and religious ceremonies.

Read More | Getting Married in Ibiza

Greece

Greece really is the pinnacle of a wedding destination, from mainland Crete to the utterly remarkable Greek islands of Santorini, Ios and Mykonos, dramatic backdrops and exciting ceremony spaces feature prominently. And, whats more UK couples can legally marry here.

How to legally get married in Greece

Firstly, the process is somewhat complex, requiring a variety of official documentation which needs to be completed both in the UK and in Greece. A professional planner is very much recommended to guide you through or ultimately take charge of the process.

Civil and religious ceremonies can take place as long as the strict process is adhered to and documentation meets approval. Catholic or Orthodox wedding ceremonies will be conducted in Greek.

To receive your CNI’s your wedding notice must be published in the local newspaper or town hall of your intended wedding location, 8 days prior to your marriage licence application. All important documents then need to be sent to the priest or town hall 4 weeks prior to your wedding date.

Your paperwork will need to be submitted in Greek, your birth certificate will need an official translation and you will need an Apostille stamp.

After your ceremony in Greece

Your Marriage Certificate will be issued within 3 days but its worth noting that the certificate will need to be translated in English to be legal back home. You or your planner will need to make the necessary arrangements to have the certificate sent to the British Embassy and then forwarded to your home address.

Discover | The Best Wedding Venues in Greece

Cyprus

Compared to many countries around the world, Cyprus offers one of the most simplistic procedures for UK couples to legally marry abroad. With minimal paperwork and restrictions the destination provides ideal spaces to say ‘I Do’. From traditional Cypriot villas to famous beach side resorts you can become Mr & Mrs in a relaxed sun-kissed setting.

Documentation you need

You’ll each need a CNI signed by a solicitor or notary public and you’ll need to keep their full contact details to hand, just in case officials in Cyprus need to contact said solicitor prior to your ceremony.

Original long birth certificates and valid passports with at least 3 months left must be present. You’ll also need two witnesses passport photocopies, with any expiry date of at least 6 months after your wedding date.

Further documentation will be needed if you are a divorcee, widower or have changed your name. For couples under the age of 18 written consent must be submitted.

Tips for getting married in Cyprus

Avoid the Cypriot bank holidays to make sure your day runs as smoothly as possible. Dates to keep clear include; 1st of April and 15th of August.

There are no formalities on the duration of stay when you fly out to get married in Cyprus but being settled a couple of days before allows for last minute prep and final meetings with suppliers and venues.

Read more | Getting Married in Cyprus

Mexico

As with any destination wedding you have to acknowledge marriage process’ differ from that of the UK’s. Civil ceremonies taken place in Mexico will legally stand in the UK if the correct procedures are taken, religious ceremonies are more complex to arrange here and are not legally binding.

Civil ceremonies can take place outside of the registry office, so if you imagine yourself walking up a white sandy aisle, Mexico is simply perfect. Trendy Tulum is just one of the wedding hotspots here, featuring outstanding backdrops for exotic destination weddings.

What you need to get married in Mexico

  • CNI which depending on the nearest embassy to your ceremony location may need to be legalised and translated
  • Passport (valid for 6 months)
  • Birth certificate
  • Travel Visa
  • Blood test certificate & possibly a chest x-ray
  • Four witnesses

Important to note…

All states in Mexico require you to have a local blood test to determine blood type and to be tested for HIV or STD (sexually transmitted diseases) This needs to take place between 15 and 5 days prior to your wedding day and a health certificate will need to be filled out in Spanish.

The legal marriage process is made a lot simpler by either hiring a professional wedding planner or discussing legalities with your wedding venue who deal with the requirements regularly.

View | Incredible Wedding Venues in Mexico

Gibraltar

Gibraltar is British overseas Territory and UK citizen’s can legally marry here. There are no residency or faith restrictions but you must apply for a special marriage licence.

Your marriage licence application can be made from 3 months up to 1 day prior to your wedding day. This entails you signing affidavits stating you are free to marry in front of a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public. You will also need to provide the registrar with evidence that you will both be staying in Gibraltar the night prior to or after your wedding day.

Do I need to visit Gibraltar prior to getting married?

Visiting your destination wedding location is always useful, whether the aim is to choose your venue or finalise details such as menu options but for Gibraltar this is not a legal requirement. If you plan on visiting within 3 months prior to your wedding it is advisable that you apply for your special marriage licence so you don’t have to rush around and do this just before the wedding.

Read more | Wedding Spotlight on Green List Gibraltar

Getting married abroad

If you’re ready to find your dream wedding destination, let us inspire you or Ask Our Experts for personal help and advice on discovering your unique place to say ‘I Do’.

For further information regarding the legal requirements for getting married abroad visit gov.uk