U.S. embassy and consulate personnel cannot perform marriages in foreign countries. Depending on the law of the foreign country, local civil or religious officials generally perform marriages. Marriages performed overseas are considered valid in the country where they take place if they are entered into in accordance with local law. Recognition of the validity of marriages performed abroad is dependent upon the laws of the place in which the marriage is to be recognized.
Procedures vary from country to country, and some require lengthy preparation.
- Many countries have requirements that the parties have been resident in that country for a specified period of time before a marriage may be performed there.
- There may be requirements for blood tests, etc.
- There may be requirements for the minimum age of the parties who are being married.
- There may be requirements for parental consent.
- There is also, in many countries, a requirement that documents certifying the end of any previous relationship (such as death or divorce certificates) be submitted, translated into the local language, and authenticated.
- Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry: Some countries require an affidavit by the parties as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. No such government-issued document exists in the United States. You may execute such an affidavit at a U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. embassy or consulate cannot attest to your marital status; however, most countries will accept a statement from you regarding your ability to marry if your signature on the affidavit has been notarized by a U.S. consular officer.
The process of marrying overseas can be time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, if you plan to marry in a foreign country, you should find out the requirements of that country before you travel. Contact the embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where you plan to marry to learn about specific requirements. A listing of foreign embassies and consulates in the United States is available on the Department of State's website. Foreign embassy and consulate contact information can also be found in the Country Specific Information the Department of State publishes for each country. If you are already abroad, you may wish to consult with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Validity of Marriages Abroad
If you get married abroad and need to know if your marriage will be recognized in the United States and what documentation may be needed, contact the office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States.
Marriage to a Foreign Citizen
Information on obtaining a visa for a foreign spouse may be obtained from any office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. embassies and consulates abroad, or the Department of State Visa Office, Washington, DC 20522-1707. General information regarding visas may be obtained by calling the Visa Office on 202-485-7600.
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Learn About Your Destination
Sign your passport, and fill in the emergency information. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.