Requirements For US
US citizens planning to marry in Italy must present certain documents and comply with specific requirements of Italian law in order to obtain a marriage license.
The documents required and the procedures to follow are described below. The following list of documents is given as an indication only. The applicable law on marriages is one and the same all over Italy, but City Halls may interpret it in slightly different ways. Therefore in case you would need to provide an additional document, your wedding planner will be in charge to advise you.
Before arriving in Italy
- US Passport
Make sure you travel with a Valid US passport (members of US Armed Forces can present their ID card, along with a permission to marry issued by their Commanding officer).
- Birth Certificate
The original Birth Certificate, with Apostille and translated into Italian should show the names of both parents. Send the original birth certificate to the appropriate office to be authenticated for use in Italy. If born in the United States, you must send the original birth certificate to the office of the Secretary of State of the state in which you were born to receive an Apostille stamp, which authenticates official documents for use in Italy.
- Evidence of termination of any marriage (e.g. final divorce decree, annulment decree or death certificate of former spouse)
The certificate of termination of any previous marriage has to be translated and with the Apostille seal. If you will be married in the Roman Catholic Church, bring baptismal and confirmation certificates.
If you were married before, bring evidence of termination of the previous marriage, and if you are under age 18, a sworn statement by parents or legal guardian(s).
If however any previous divorce, annulment or death has been recorded properly on the Atto Notorio then these documents are no longer necessary.
Any previous marriage of the bride must have been dissolved at least 300 days before the date of the proposed marriage: a woman whose previous marriage was terminated within the last 300 days must obtain a waiver from the Procura della Repubblica presso il Tribunale (District Attorney's office) at the Palazzo di Giustizia (Courthouse), in the city where the new marriage will be performed. Such waiver is issued upon presentation of medical evidence that the applicant is not pregnant.
Note: All documents originating out of Italy (birth certificate, divorce decree, etc.) must be translated into Italian and authenticated by the nearest Italian Consulate having jurisdiction over the place of issuance in the U.S. before they can have any legal validity before Italian authorities.
Both the original documents and the translations must be legalized for use in Italy, with the so-called Apostille stamp, in accordance with The Hague Convention on the legalization of foreign public documents.
In the US, the Apostille stamp is placed by the Secretary of State in the State where the document was issued. Call the nearest Italian Consulate in the United States, or wherever you may be outside of Italy, to get details on proper methods of translating documents.
- Atto Notorio
Before leaving the United States to get married in Italy, it is advisable to obtain an Atto Notorio from the Italian Consulate closest to your current residence.
This is a declaration, in addition to the sworn statement, stating that according to the laws to which the citizen is subject in the United States there is no obstacle to his/her marriage. This declaration is to be sworn to by two witnesses (a witness may be of any nationality, but must be over 18, with current photo ID), before an Italian Consul outside Italy or, in Italy, before a Court official in the city where the marriage is to take place.
If you decide to request the Atto Notorio in Italy you must advise the wedding planner in advance in order to be able to schedule an appointment with the Court since some Courts may have long waiting lists for this service.
The Atto Notorio can be executed at any Tribunale Ordinario in Italy. It requires many revenue stamps (marche da bollo), two witnesses over 18 years of age and an interpreter. You, the witnesses, and the interpreter must show proof of recent entry into Italy, i.e. plane ticket or visa, or a Permit to Stay (permesso di soggiorno).
Once in Italy
- Nulla Osta
A declaration (Nulla Osta or Affidavit) is required by Italian law. A Nulla Osta literally states that there are no impediments, or that one is free to marry, according to the laws of the State of which the citizen is a resident.
Your legal status must be such that you can legally marry under Italian and US law. To obtain a Nulla Osta you should visit the Consular Section nearest your wedding destination. The Nulla Osta is valid for three months and costs approximately 50 euros per person.
You can download the appropriate Nulla Osta form ahead of time in order to save time. If so, please fill it in but do not sign it ahead of time as it will have to be signed in front of the Consul.
Note: Once issued, this affidavit must be stamped by the Legalization Office of any Prefettura in our Consular District (there is one in every province capital).Your wedding planner beside the assistance during your Nulla Osta will also help to legalize your documents for you. Each Nulla Osta requires a revenue stamp of Euro 16. Please note that depending on your wedding location, it may be essential that you also attend this appointment.
- Declaration of Intention
All the above documents have to be presented to the Wedding Hall in the city where the marriage will be performed, where usually it is required a "Declaration of Intention to Marry" before an Ufficiale di Stato Civile (Civil Registrar).
Usually the Declaration takes place 2 or 3 days prior the wedding. Banns are posted only after the Declaration of Intention to Marry has been filed.
Additional Informaton Banns and Marriage Ceremony
Civil Banns must be posted at the Town Hall for two consecutive weeks including two Sundays before the marriage can take place. However, banns are automatically waived if neither party to the marriage is an Italian citizen or a resident of Italy.
A civil ceremony is performed by the Mayor or one of his deputies. At this time you will need two witnesses and one interpreter to translate your ceremony from Italian into English.
Civil and Religious Ceremony
If a religious ceremony is to be performed by a Catholic priest, a separate civil ceremony will not be needed, as the priest will register the marriage with the civil authorities.
The Roman Catholic Church requires documentation besides the documents listed above (such as baptismal and confirmation certificates and letters of freedom). For complete information you should check with your wedding planner.
Because of the special Italian requirements applicable to marriages performed by non-Roman Catholic ministers, the latter usually insist on a prior civil ceremony before (not always, can depend on the wedding destination) performing a religious ceremony to ensure the legality of the marriage.
After the marriage is performed, the passport of a US citizen wife may be amended to read in her married name. To that effect, she should visit a US Embassy or Consulate with the Civil Certificate of Marriage issued by the Wedding Hall, along with her passport. There is no charge for this service.
Travel to the United States
A US citizen does not acquire Italian citizenship through marriage to an Italian. An Italian does not become a US citizen through marriage to a US citizen and therefore he/she must have a visa to stay in the United States for more than 90 days.
A US citizen who desires to live in the US with a foreign spouse must file a Petition for an Alien Relative with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). Once the petition has been approved, INS will transmit the paperwork to the American Consulate in Naples, which will issue an immigrant visa to the foreign spouse. The approval of the petition and the processing of the immigrant visa often takes months.
Under Italian law, all public documents -- regardless of their origin -- are considered valid for only six months from the date of issue. Americans are therefore advised to make sure that all documents to be submitted to Italian authorities have not been issued more than six months ahead of the marriage.