Italian Wedding Legal Requirements for US Citizens

June 23, 2023

Planning a destination wedding is an exciting endeavour, and when it comes to romance and elegance, few places can rival Italy. With its stunning landscapes, rich history, and exquisite cuisine, Italy is a dream location for couples looking to tie the knot.

However, before you embark on this unforgettable journey, you must familiarize yourself with the legalities for US citizens to marry in Italy. In this blog post, we will guide you through the necessary steps and legal requirements, ensuring that your dream wedding becomes a reality.

How Can I Get Married In Italy?

Getting married in a foreign country can be an incredibly romantic and unforgettable experience. Picture exchanging vows amidst breathtaking landscapes, surrounded by the rich history and culture of a place like Italy. Ah, more!

But before you start dreaming about your destination wedding, it's essential to consider the legal requirements involved, especially for US citizens. Let's dive into the options!

First, let's talk about the two types of ceremonies you can choose from symbolic and legally binding. Symbolic ceremonies are not legally recognized, but they allow you to have a beautiful, personalized celebration in the location of your dreams.

On the other hand, lawfully binding ceremonies make your marriage official in the eyes of the law, both in the country where you tie the knot and back home.

If you decide to have your legal ceremony in Italy, buckle up for a journey through the land of romance and bureaucracy. The process may vary depending on the region where you plan to marry, so it's essential to do thorough research and consult with the appropriate authorities. But don’t worry, because your wedding planner in Italy can help you navigate everything. 

Generally, you'll need to provide documents, including birth certificates, valid passports, and a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) from the US Embassy or Consulate. It's crucial to allow plenty of time for the paperwork to be processed and prepared for some translations and notarizations.

On the other hand, if you opt for a legal ceremony in the US, you'll have the advantage of dealing with standard processes and procedures. You'll still need to fulfill the legal requirements set by your state, such as obtaining a marriage license, completing the necessary paperwork, and having an officiant to solemnize your union. Once you've taken care of these essentials, you can focus on planning a splendid symbolic ceremony in Italy tailored to your tastes and preferences.

Religious ceremony in a Church and legal requirement documents

What Are The Legal Requirements To Get Married In Italy?

To obtain a marriage license in Italy, you must present specific wedding documents that comply with Italian law. 

You must have a valid US passport and bring your birth certificate (either an original or a notarized copy). Additionally, if either of you has been divorced, you must present evidence of marriage termination.

Also, women divorced in the last 300 days must visit the Italian District Attorney’s office in the city where the marriage will be performed to obtain a waiver. The waiver is received upon medical evidence showing that the woman isn’t pregnant.

1. Atto Notorio

The first wedding document you must acquire is the Atto Notorio before travelling to Italy. This affidavit shows who you and your fiance are and that you are free to marry. You must present the document and additional copies of your passports to obtain the declaration. 

Once you complete this, the documents must be translated by a certified translator and sent to your home state's Secretary of State's Notary Public. Next, you must set an appointment with an Italian embassy closest to you, and two witnesses must accompany you, both of which must show valid photo identifications. 

However, this part may be the most challenging part of the process, as only some states have an Italian embassy, meaning you must travel. In addition, getting the Atto Notorio three months before the wedding is important, and not earlier.

If the marriage doesn’t happen within this period, the declaration will expire, meaning you’ll need to obtain a new one. With this in mind, plan accordingly and stick to your schedule with attention.

Once you get to the embassy, the legal requirements state that all of your documents need to be in Italian and are valid. After double-checking everything and the witnesses have testified that they know you, you are presented with the Atto Notorio, making you a step closer to your dream Italian wedding.


Discover more: Captivating Wedding Lantern Decor For a Magical Celebration


2. Nulla Osta

The rest of the wedding documents are obtained in Italy, meaning you must travel ahead to arrange everything. The following declaration you must get is the Nulla Osta, issued in US embassies or consulates in major Italian cities - Milan, Palermo, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Venice.

To obtain a Nulla Osta, you must set an appointment in a US embassy and give a sworn statement that nothing’s preventing you from legally marrying in the country. The document costs $50 per person and is valid six months from the issue date. Furthermore, your name must be written the same throughout all papers. 

After you’ve acquired the Nulla Osta, legal requirements state that the document needs to be legalized. This is done at a “Prefettura” in the district where your wedding will occur. 

3. Declaration of Intent To Marry

Finally, the last wedding document you require is the Declaration of Intent to Marry, which is very easy to obtain. Simply bring the previous documents to a town hall and complete the form. As you’re probably aware, not everyone speaks English in the hall, so bringing an interpreter or your Italian wedding planner with you is advisable. 

4. Civil Vs. Religious Ceremony

Now that the hard part is over, you need to decide whether you want a civil or religious ceremony.

Civil ceremonies are typically done in the town hall or on-site at your chosen wedding venue. It is performed either by the mayor or one of their deputies. Two witnesses must be present, none of which can be related to either party. Just like before, it is suggested that you bring an interpreter, but they cannot serve as a witness. 

In contrast, religious ceremonies are performed in a church or basilica by a Roman Catholic priest. If you opt for this option, you are exempt from having a civil marriage but must present all the required wedding documents.

If you want your religious ceremony to be performed by a non-Roman Catholic priest, the validity of the union must be ensured, meaning that you have to have a civil ceremony.  


Suggested for you: What Is a Catholic Marriage Certificate?


Additional Information

As previously mentioned, all required documents must be translated into Italian and further apostilled to verify their authenticity, both the originals and copies. 

Furthermore, you must register the marriage at the local Registrar of Vital Statistics after the ceremony. Remember that you don’t need to do the process again once you return home, as your marriage license will be verified as valid in the US. After all the legalities are done, you can finally kick back and savour every moment of married life together.

As you can see, planning an Italian wedding - legally, that is - is simple if you are willing to go through all the documents. At first glance, it appears you have to do a ton of paperwork and adhere to many legal requirements. The reality is much simpler - you just need patience and your Italian wedding planner by your side.

Religius ceremony in Italian church

Stress-Free Wedding Planning From Abroad

When it comes to planning a destination wedding in Italy, hiring a good wedding planner (did someone say VB Events!?) can be a game-changer.

With the intricate details and legal requirements involved, having a knowledgeable and experienced professional by your side can make the entire process smoother and more enjoyable. 

A wedding planner who specializes in Italy weddings will be well-versed in the local customs, venues, vendors, and legalities, ensuring that every aspect of your special day is meticulously planned and executed. From handling the paperwork and translations to coordinating with local vendors, propose you the best catering services and creating a breathtaking event, a wedding planner becomes your trusted guide, turning your dreams into reality while alleviating the stress and allowing you to fully savour the magic of your Italian wedding.

As a last note, set a date for the wedding first, as it will dictate the timeframe you have for obtaining the required documentation. If you get stuck in any situation, contact your wedding planner in Italy, as they will gladly help you out. With just a few simple steps and meticulous planning, your enchanting Italian wedding will finally become a reality.

Next Up > Beyond the Backup: Embracing the Beauty of Plan B Weddings

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