My partner and I are getting married next year. We are planning to travel abroad for the ceremony. What do we need to do?
Answer (March 2015)
If either your or your partner are Irish citizens and you are thinking of getting married outside Ireland, the legal validity of your marriage is governed, in part, by the laws of the country in which you marry. In most, if not all cases, the legal formalities abroad are very different to those in Ireland. For example, a church marriage abroad is usually a purely religious ceremony with no legal effect. Because it is not recognised in law in the country in which it takes place, it cannot be regarded as a legal marriage in Ireland. This is the case even though a marriage in the same church or denomination in Ireland is legally binding. This is because the religious ceremony is recognised in Ireland as a civil contract.
It is very important, therefore, that you make sure to meet all the legal requirements of the country you are marrying in. You should contact the civil registration office in that country to find out what is required. You may decide to have a civil marriage in Ireland followed by a religious ceremony abroad.
Although you must meet the foreign requirements, you are still bound by Irish law as far as the capacity to marry is concerned. For example, your marriage abroad will not be recognised under Irish law if one or both of you was ordinarily resident in Ireland and one or both of you was aged under 18 at the time of the marriage and did not have a Court Exemption Order.
Marriages that take place outside the State are not normally registered in Ireland. They are usually registered in the country where they occur. Your foreign marriage certificate will usually be accepted for official purposes in Ireland if you need to show evidence that you are married. If the certificate is in a foreign language, you must provide an official translation or a translation from a recognised translation agency.
You may require a Certificate of Freedom to Marry to get married in some foreign countries. This may also be called “Certificate de Coutume” or “Certificate of Nulla Osta”. You apply online to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry.
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