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American citizens getting legally married in Italy

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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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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...

You need to arrange an appointment at the Italian Consulate neatest to your home in the USA to obtain your Atto Notorio – an affidavit which states there are no impediments to your marriage. (It is also possible for US citizens to obtain this at an Italian Consulate in Australia or before a magistrate in Italy – however doing it in Italy is much more expensive.)

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 can’t be relatives. 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).

Make sure you send us a copy of your documents so we can ensure 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.

When you arrive in Italy

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 you have received your Nulla Osta, it needs to be authenticated with an Apostille stamp at the Ufficio Legalizazione of the provincial Italian Government Agency - the local Prefecture office. This can be arranged by our local assistants, but you will need to come along, You will need to purchase two Marco da Bollo Stamps (revenue Stamps) from any tabacchi store ahead of your visit to the Prefettura.

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.

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.

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 –but will take a few days, so try and factor some time for this before leaving on your honeymoon.

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.