Marrying an Italian : The legal stuff

Marrying an Italian : The legal stuff

As Shakespeare famously wrote, “The course of true love never did run smooth,” and never has this been truer if you are a foreigner who wants to marry an Italian in Italy.  During this process you will bear witness to Italian bureaucracy at its finest and will probably argue with your partner more than if you were constructing flat-pack furniture! So to help here is my ultimate guide of what you need to know/do if you want to marry an Italian here in Italy.

First of all, congratulations! Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting and daunting things to do, especially in a foreign country  when perhaps your level of Italian isn’t as strong as your mother tongue and you don’t know where to begin. Below is my step by step guide to what you need to do and when to do it so you can still keep those rose-tinted glasses firmly in place.

 What type of wedding do you want?

A big church wedding? An outdoor ceremony in a vineyard? This is the first thing you need to decide as weddings are big business in Italy so if you have dreamed of a church wedding you need to book it early, churches can be booked up as far as 18 months in advance!

The legally binding part of the wedding can be done in the local comune (some comune’s have special rooms for this, mine didn’t and I didn’t realise at the time that I’d actually legally married!)  Allow yourself at least three months before your planned wedding date in order to complete all the documentation as Italian bureaucracy is famous for having a few hiccups.

When you decide why type of wedding you want the first thing you need to do is head to your local comune and ask which documents they require.  In most places the required documentation is:

  • Certificate of Residency
  • Nulla Osta (to be issued by your embassy)
  • Full Birth Certificate
  • Identity Documents -e.g passport

You will then need to obtain a Certificate of No Impediment known in Italy as a Nulla Osta

For a certificate of no impediment (Nulla Osta) you will need to go to the nearest embassy (for those in Calabria it is Rome). There you will have to declare that you are not married and there is no reason why you are unable to marry and then they will post your banns for 23 days.  If there are no objections during this time period they will then issue you with a Nulla Osta (which can be couriered to you so you don’t have to organise a repeat trip to Rome).

You must make an appointment through the British Consular website and you will need to provide:

  • a copy of your passport
  • a Certificate of Residence and proof of residence dated no more than 21 days before your appointment
  • a copy of your payslip
  • a copy of your birth certificate
  • certificato di stato libero for your partner
  • copy of your partner’s ID card
  • Divorce Decree Absolute if you are divorced
  • Evidence of termination of any previous marriage of both parties, if applicable.

Upon issue of the Nulla Osta you are then allowed to marry in Italy from 2 days to 6 months after. Hoorah!

Now you need to decide whether you want a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony.

Requirements for a Catholic wedding

You must have all original certificates for Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation, along with your Nulla Osta that you have got from the embassy.  If you don’t have these certificates (for example, I didn’t do my confirmation) you will need to attend a course in Italy to do these.

You will also be required to attend a pre-wedding course, the length of which will depend on your parish.

As a Catholic wedding is legally binding it is recognised by the Italian authorities as the priest will read the legal bit, meaning it’s no necessary to also have a separate civil ceremony.

If you do have your heart set on a church wedding, it often pays to do your research early and book the church and priest as soon as possible.  In the summer months weddings take place virtually every day so there is a lot of demand.  Also, remember that summer in Calabria is hot, hot, hot so think very carefully about booking that 15th August wedding, you will be baking!


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