When getting married overseas, even a simple, intimate ceremony requires careful planning. From making sure that you comply with the residency and documentation requirements of the country where you want to get married, to ensuring that your marriage will be recognized in the United States, getting married abroad raises a number of issues not involved in getting married back home.
However, it is important not to let these issues dissuade you from tying the knot wherever you want. These issues can be overcome, and it is often simply a matter of finding someone with experience who can help you through the process. At Jiah Kim & Associates, we have helped many cross-border couples plan their future. If you want to get married overseas, we can make sure that the legal hurdles do not stand in your way.
Getting Married Overseas: When Both Fiancés are U.S. Citizens
If you and your fiancé are both U.S. citizens, you will have more to deal with, on the front end, in terms of paperwork and satisfying residency requirements; however, you will avoid much of the post-marriage red tape in terms of your fiancé immigrating to the United States (should you choose to return home after you get married).
When planning your overseas marriage, it is important to know that American diplomatic and consular offices do not have the power to marry. It is a common misconception that American citizens can go to the embassy in a foreign country to get married. Instead, similar to the United States, marriage ceremonies in most countries must be performed by either religious or local state officials. As a result, when planning your marriage, you will want to locate a local government office or religious institution that has experience conducting marriages for foreign nationals.
Getting Married Overseas: When Marrying a Foreign National
If your fiancé is not a U.S. citizen, he or she may have an easier time satisfying the local requirements to obtain a marriage license (assuming that you are getting married in his or her country of citizenship). But, if you plan to move to the United States with your new husband or wife, you will need to deal with U.S. immigration requirements in order to do so. Unfortunately, marriage to a U.S. citizen does not automatically confer the right to enter U.S. soil. If you will be moving back to the United States, the process of securing a green card for your spouse starts with filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What is Required to Marry Overseas?
In order to get married overseas, you will need to comply with the requirements of local law. Unfortunately, each country is different, so there isn’t one simple answer when it comes to figuring out what you need to do in order to legally get married abroad.
Generally speaking, however, most countries have two main types of requirements. These are (i) a residency requirement, and (ii) a requirement to provide certain types of documentation.
Not all countries have residency requirements, and among those that do, many have “residency” periods that are very short – even as short as 24 hours. France is among the notable exceptions, requiring a residence period of 40 days before you can legally marry.
The documentation requirements vary widely from country to country, as well. Passports and birth certificates will generally be a given, while additional requirements can range from blood test results and x-rays (in Mexico and other countries) to Italy’s requirement for declarations “atto norio” sworn before an Italian consulate officer by four individuals who must attest that they know no reason why you and your fiancé should not be permitted to marry.
As you might expect, some countries have additional requirements, as well, and we can help make sure that you address all of the requirements for getting married in your country of choice.
What is Required to Register a Marriage in the U.S.?
In the United States, marriage is a matter of state law. As a result, the State Department does not impose any uniform requirements for registering a marriage in the U.S.
As a general rule, marriages entered into abroad will be valid in the U.S., as long as they do not violate the laws of the state in which you are domiciled. However, different states have different requirements, and to ensure that your overseas marriage will be recognized domestically, you will need to check your state’s laws to find out if registration, or any other type of filing, is required.
The Importance of Prenuptial Agreements in International Marriages
For international travelers, it’s particularly important to consider the benefits of a prenuptial agreement. More than just “planning for divorce,” prenuptial agreements serve a number of important purposes, and these purposes are magnified when you live or own property overseas. In fact, a prenuptial agreement can be a critical component of an international estate plan, and at Jiah Kim & Associates, we can help you craft an agreement that is custom-tailored to your unique personal circumstances.
Contact Jiah Kim & Associates Today
If you would like help overcoming the legal hurdles involved in getting married overseas, we invite you to schedule a consultation. At Jiah Kim & Associates, we focus our practice on representing expats and international travelers. To speak with an attorney, call us at (646) 389-5065 or contact us online today.
This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. You understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the blog publisher. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.