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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 to get you Otto Nottorio

  • 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 in the USA, by a certified translator - the Italian Consulate will provide a list of approved translators. The translations of your birth certificates must be authenticated by the Italian Consulate (stamped with a seal).
  • 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 in the USA, by a certified translator - the Italian Consulate will provide a list of approved translators. The translations of your divoice decree or death certificate must be authenticated by the Italian Consulate (stamped with a seal). 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.
  • Documents requiring Hague Apostils
  • Official documents that are issued in a Country and must be used abroad (e.g. an American birth certificate to be used in Italy) need to be legalized or “authenticated” by the appropriate authorities in the originating Country to prove that the document was issued by a competent official and that is genuine and not fraudulent.
  • Since the U.S. and Italy are part of the Hague Apostille Convention of 1961, both Countries will accept an Apostille stamp on the certificate or official document concerned, as proof of legalization.
  • Apostille stamps on documents originating in a U.S can be arranged by sending your documents to your Secretary of State’s Notary Public office 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 Affidavit which states there are no impediments to your marriage, or he/she is not prohibited from marrying and he/she is not in any of the conditions that according to the Italian Civil Code forbid marriage. This is basically a declaration stating that you and your fiancé are who you say you are, that you are free to marry each other. (It is also possible for US citizens to obtain this at an Italian Consulate in a foreign country 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 must receive your Atto Notorio no more than 3 months prior to your wedding date in Italy, otherwise, it will expire by the time you get married.

You will need to bring your documents (this varies by state, so confirm the documents they need. ), 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 as it varies by state. 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. The Consulate will also stamp your Atto Notorio document.

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 Comune 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...

Each U.S. citizen has to obtain a Dichiarazione Giurata /Nulla Osta from the American Consulate or Embassy in Italy (in Milan, Genoa, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples or Palermo), 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. Like with the Atto Notorio, to get the Nulla Osta, you will need to do a sworn statement that there are no impediments as to why that cannot get legally married in Italy, this will be sworn by you before an American consular officer commissioned in Italy. This should happen generally three working days before you wedding, and you should book your appointment about a month beforehand. The USA embassy/consulate gives out appointments only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so make sure you arrive in Italy in plenty of time to complete the process. The Nulla Osta document is valid for 6 months. You will also need to bring around €30 each 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...

Set an appointment at the Comune (one or two days before the wedding) where you want to get married. Complete a “Declaration of Intention to Marry”. Present all the documents that you have to the Marriage office (Ufficio Matrimoni). This depends on the area where your wedding is taking place, and we can 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 written in the same way on your passport, Atto Notorio and Nulla Osta. Otherwise, your paperwork will not be valid. *Brides, you will have to write out your maiden name!