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There is only one happiness in life... to love and be loved.

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Getting married abroad - Paperwork overview

It's simpler than you think...

* First you will usually need to apply for a marriage licence from the country you have chosen. Some countries don't have licences, so you will need a different form to prove your identity and that you are legally allowed to marry.

* To apply for your licence or wedding, you will need some form of documentation, at least passport and birth certificate and sometimes divorce and/or death certificates if relevant. Make sure all the names correspond.

* Some countries require originals of documents, others are happy with photocopies.

* Some countries (like Italy) require additional forms.

* Most countries charge for a licence but generally it's a small fee that won't break the bank! There's details for each country in Where in the World.


* You will either need to send an application and your ID documents ahead of your arrival or simply present them in person. Don't forget to take copies of anything you send!

* Forms are generally available to download from the country embassy website or from your wedding planner/ travel agent or hotel. Or via this website!


Two things to consider - the deadline for your application, and the time it then takes to process.

* For the countries that require you to apply for a licence in person, you will either be able to do this as soon as you arrive or you may have to be in the country for a couple of days before you can apply.

* For those countries that request an application by post, the notice period can vary from a few days to a few weeks.

* Once the authorities have seen your documents & completed your application, they will then process your licence/ permissions. The time this takes can vary - from on the spot to a few weeks. Usually it's a matter of days.

* Expert Tip - "If you are having to apply for your licence in person, make sure you arrive in the country during the week to coincide with business office hours. Even if you don't have to attend a meeting, some countries state the minimum 'residency' to be business days only, so it's good to consider this when planning your flights ".

To find out your destination's specific requirements, check out the legalities pages in

'Where in the World'

Will we need witnesses?

Generally yes, two of them, either members of your wedding party or a stranger recruited locally. Some countries ask for copies of their passports on the day.

Important - The details provided are based on both parties being aged over 18, British Citizens currently living and working in the UK. Any circumstances different to this may require additional checks. Please confirm with the relevant authorities well ahead of your wedding.