How to get married in Italy – navigating the paperwork maze!
Italy is a gloriously beautiful country for anyone dreaming of a destination wedding. The documentation is a bit less glorious and can be a fairly tedious process filled with red tape. The process is easier for some nationalities over others.
Here are some useful tips on the paperwork for a wedding in Italy.
First of all your names should be the same on all of the documents that will be presented.
A passport is an absolute requirement for anyone wanting to get married in Italy in a civil ceremony.
The NULLA OSTA
This document is a requirement to have a civil ceremony in Italy. This Statutory Declaration in some cases must be translated into Italian, depending on your nationality and be legalized at a Prefettura. To obtain a Nulla Osta you will have to produce the following documents:
- Your full name
- Place and date of birth
- Marital status - single, divorced or widowed
- Mother and Father names
AMERICANS and AUSTRALIANS
The most complex process is reserved for US and Australian nationals who must complete what is called an ATTO NOTORIO (affidavit) in their home country at the Italian Consulate. This document is absolutely necessary for the Italian authorities to marry in Italy. The couple and their chosen witnesses (in some cases 2 in other 4) must travel to the nearest Italian Consulate under their city’s jurisdiction and have an Atto Notorio drawn up. Obtaining an appointment with the Italian Consulate requires extreme patience and persistence. Italian consulates are not exactly cooperative and the process must also be completed within a specific time period (3 months expiration period) but far enough in advance so that the lengthy wait for an appointment can be completed.
It is also possible to do an Atto Notorio in Italy at the Prefettura. Our agency provides the necessary witnesses and support. In either case you must produce the following documentation:
- Birth certificate (which will have to be apostilled)
- Divorce or death certificate if you have been previously married (which will have to be apostilled)
- Translation of the above (except for passport)
- Apostille on the translations
The Italian Consulate will then prepare the Atto Notorio which will be presented to the town hall for the civil ceremony in Italy. Once in Italy you must complete the final step, the Nulla Osta at the US Consulate or Embassy. They go by appointment only and after the Nulla Osta has been drawn up and completed it must be legalized at the Prefettura. Our team manages this last step.
The Atto Notorio and Nulla Osta will be presented to the town hall where you will be getting married in Italy.
UK citizens who reside in the UK have a simplified process – they will have to obtain a Certificate of Non Impediment and also a Statutory declaration from a public notary. However if you are a UK national residing outside of the UK you will actually have to fly to Italy (Rome) to process your paperwork in person. Not the most convenient option for many couples.
These two YouTube links are excellent resources.
If residing in the UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EhPz7-wjWjc
If residing outside of the UK https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5tr_TKlCq8
TOWN HALL DECLARATION
Regardless of your citizenship, 95% of the town halls will require that you sign a declaration some days prior to your Italy wedding and you must have a translator present to translate the document to you prior to signing it. This declaration does not require witnesses.
The town hall will require a fee to marry you and this can range anywhere from Euro 250 to well over Euro 2.500 for more glamorous Italy wedding venues such as those around Lake Como or Florence's famous Sala Rossa.
FINALLY THE CEREMONY!
Your civil ceremony in Italy is conducted by a representative of the town hall who will read the entire ceremony in Italian – this is a requirement of Italian law. Once again, the ceremony must be translated into English by a translator. Agencies such as ours provide this service (including the declaration).
After the reading of the Articles of the Civil Code – which will not take more than 15 minutes - you are generally allowed to personalize the ceremony as you wish with readings, music, personal vows etc…
In addition, it is possible for the bride to arrive traditionally, walking down an aisle to music.
CIVIL CEREMONIES DIRECT AT YOUR VENUE
Only venues authorized by the town hall to celebrate on location can do so. They apply each year for a special permission and require approval by the local government.
Distinctive Italy is one of the few agencies with official civil celebrants that are authorized to celebrate a legally binding ceremony outside of town halls, at most private locations throughout Italy. Please inquire.
CATHOLIC with CIVIL VALIDITY
Catholic ceremonies in Italy can only be celebrated in a church, not outside. The ceremony can be a religious blessing only or also be legally binding. If you choose to have a Catholic blessing in Italy then you will need to be civilly married prior to coming to the country.
Either way, the ceremony is exactly the same as far as format – a full mass is celebrated.
For the civil portion you simply follow the same process as if you were only getting married in a civil ceremony. The priest at the end of the Catholic rite will sign the civil paperwork and combine the two ceremonies.
We highly recommend that you do not try to handle the civil paperwork for your wedding in Italy alone. The chances of something going wrong are high and most town halls do not have bi-lingual staff. You will save yourself a considerable amount of stress!
PROTESTANT with CIVIL VALIDITY
Finally, if you dream of a Protestant wedding in Italy with that will be legally recognized in your home country this is definitely possible. There are Pastors that are authorized by the Italian State to celebrate a religious ceremony with civil validity at your preferred location, thus avoiding the need to go to a town hall.