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American citizens getting legally married in Italy

The complete how-to for American citizens getting married in Italy

Italy remains a hugely popular destination for Americans planning a wedding abroad – and the good news is it’s completely possible for US citizens to get legally married in Italy. Of course, many Americans choose to get legally wed in American and have a symbolic wedding ceremony in Italy. However if you prefer to have your Italian wedding ceremony as your official, legally binding event, then you will need to do some planning and admin work in advance.

To get married in a civil or legally recognised religious wedding in Italy, you will need to provide specific documents from America that certify your identify and state that there are no legal impediments to your marriage. There are also several steps you need to follow just before your wedding day when you arrive in Italy.

Documents you need to arrange in America

  • A valid American passport. (Active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces can present their military ID card instead).
  • Your original birth certificate, which shows both parents’ names, or your naturalisation certificate if you were naturalised in America. This needs an Apostille stamp by the Secretary of State in the state that issued the document. The Apostille is valid for six months. The document then needs to be officially translated into Italian which you can do in the USA.
  • If you have been married before, your final divorce decree or death certificate of your previous spouse. This needs an Apostille stamp by the Secretary of State in the state that issued the document. The Apostille is valid for six months. The document then needs to be officially translated into Italian. If you are a female whose previous marriage was terminated within the last 300 days, you must obtain a waiver from the Italian District Attorney’s Office (Procura della Repubblica presso il tribunale) at the court in the city where the new marriage will be performed. The waiver is issued upon presentation of medical evidence that you are not pregnant.
  • Apostille stamps can be arranged by sending your documents to your Secretary of State’s Notary Public along with a small fee via post.

Once you have these documents...

Atto Notorio

You need to arrange an appointment at the Italian Consulate nearest to your home in the USA to obtain your Atto Notorio – an an Affidavit or “Dichiarazione Giurata” which states there are no impediments to your marriage. (It is also possible for US citizens to obtain this at an Italian Consulate in a foreign coutnry or before a magistrate in Italy, usually before a court official in the city where the marriage will take place – however doing it in Italy is much more expensive.) Make sure you give yourself plenty of time before leaving the United States, as some courts may have long waiting lists for this service.  

You will need to bring your documents, which have an Apostille stamp and have been translated into Italian, to the appointment at the Consulate, along with two or more witnesses, (who may be of any nationality, must be over 18, possess valid photo identification, and know the applicant; they cannot be family members, future family members or affines). Make sure you confirm ahead of time with the Consulate how many witnesses they require. Ensure you and your witnesses also bring along your drivers licenses to the appointment.

To be valid, your Atto Notorio document must have “Repubblica Italiana” and “Consoloato Generale d’Italia” specifically written at the top of the page. Make sure the Consulate also stamps your documents’ translations if they Consulate didn’t do the translation (some Consulates offer official translation services).

Send a copy of your documents to Italy....

Make sure you send us a copy of your documents so we can ensure and check with the local commune that everything is correct before you arrive in Italy. And don’t forget to bring all of the original documents with you when you come to Italy – and put them in your hand luggage, so there is no risk of them getting lost. *We also suggest that you bring a photocopy of everything.*

When you arrive in Italy

3 days before your wedding...

You will need to obtain the Nulla Osta from the American Consulate or Embassy in Italy (in Rome, Milan, Florence or Naples), which gives you authorisation to get married. You will need to bring all of your original documents and passports with you. No witnesses are necessary, however we can accompany you to ensure it all goes smoothly. This should happen generally three working days before you wedding, and you should book your appointment about a month beforehand. You will also need to bring around €30 cash with you.

Once the Nulla Osta/“Dichiarazione Giurata” has been issued, you must take it to the Legalization Office (Ufficio Legalizzazioni) of the local Prefettura to legalize it. You will need to purchase a €16 revenue stamp (marca da bollo) from any tobacco shop (tabacchi) and present it to the clerk of the Legalization Office (Ufficio Legalizzazioni) at the Prefettura (an Italian government office) for each document to be authenticated.

About 1-2 day before your wedding...

A declaration is sometimes requested by the town hall/city commune/wedding hall where you will get married one or two days before the wedding. This depends on the area where your wedding is taking place, and we will be able to help you arrange this. You will need to visit along with an interpreter to present your documents and make your declaration of intent to marry.

If one of you is an Italian citizen or resident in Italy, then you will need to post your marriage banns and wait two Sundays before you can get married in a civil ceremony. However, if neither party to the marriage is an Italian citizen or a resident of Italy, banns are automatically waived or posted for a shorter period of time which may vary from one day to a week depending on the town hall regulations.

On the wedding day

The Mayor, the Ufficiale dello State Civile or one of their assistants will perform the civil ceremony. You will need to have two witnesses present with you and an interpreter. Witnesses may be of any nationality, but must be over 18 and possess valid photo identification.  A witness cannot serve as interpreter.  You will have to pay a rental fee for the marriage hall or the location where you will get married, which varies according to the location, the season and the day of the week.  The fee ranges from a minimum of €500 to a maximum of €9,200.

After the wedding

The officiant will present you with your wedding certificate straight after the civil ceremony. It’s often a good idea to get an Apostille stamp on the certificate from the Prefettura having jurisdiction over the area where you were married – but will take a few days, so try and factor some time for this before leaving on your honeymoon.

 A complete list of Prefettura offices is available here.

And finally, don't forget...

Make sure your full name is spelt consistently on your passport, Atto Notorio and Nulla Osta.

Both spouses need to be single, legally divorced or widowed. If the woman has been divorced, the divorce must have been finalised at least 300 days before the new wedding date.