Getting Married in Italy: What You Need to Know

Italy is probably the most romantic country in the world to get married in, and you don’t have to live in Italy to get married here. Although there is quite a lot of legwork and paper chasing involved, countless American citizens have tied the knot in Florence, Rome, and many other cities. If you are thinking of an Italian wedding, check that rules haven’t changed with an Italian Consulate office in the U.S.

Regulations are the same nationwide when you’re getting married in Italy; however some cities (e.g. Florence) waive certain requirements when the marriage is between two U.S. citizens.

Along with two witnesses, Americans wishing to marry in Italy must—three days prior to the ceremony—appear before the Ufficiale di Stato Civile (in Florence, it’s the Civil Registrar in the Palazzo Vecchio), and declare their intent to marry. The following documents must be presented at this time:

A nulla osta, an oath notarized by an American consul in Italy, stating that there are no obstacles to the marriage as defined under American laws. (When making this declaration, you must present your passports and pay a notarial fee of $30.)

The consul’s signature affixed to this document must then be authenticated by the Ufficio Legalizzazione at one of the region’s prefetture. In Florence, the office is at Via Giacomini 8, and opening hours are 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday through Friday, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday. Please note that a nulla osta done at the embassy in Rome is not accepted at the comune in Florence.

A marca da bollo (administrative stamp fee) in the amount of $18 is payable to the prefettura. It can be purchased in a tobacco shop (tabacchi) and is then presented to the clerk at the Ufficio Legalizzazione for each document to be authenticated.

Before coming to Italy to marry, you must also obtain an atto notorio. This is an oath sworn in the presence of two witnesses and notarized by an Italian Consulate in the U.S., stating there are no legal impediments to the marriage. If you are already residing in Italy, this can be done at a Pretura (lower court house).

In Florence, you need to make an appointment with the Ufficio Atti Notori at the Pretura Circondariale di Firenze, Piazza San Marino 2; tel. +39 (055) 27-831. You will need some knowledge of Italian and there’s usually a wait of several weeks to the appointment.

Prior to the appointment, you will need to buy two types of Italian administrative stamps (marche per atti giudiziari), one to the value of $35.89 and the other for $18. These stamps can also be purchased in most tabacchi shops. Sounds odd, but this is where you go to purchase administrative stamps.

You will also need to produce birth certificates showing the names of both parents, and evidence of termination of any previous marriage. Any documents issued outside of Italy must be translated into Italian and authenticated by the Italian Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of residence in the U.S.

If any previous divorce, annulment, or death has been properly recorded on the atto notorio, these documents won’t be needed. Another thing to note is that any previous marriage of the bride must have been dissolved at least 300 days before the date of the proposed marriage.

After the above steps have been completed, banns (notices) are posted at the local city hall for two consecutive Sundays before the marriage occurs. The banns can be waived if neither party to the marriage is an Italian citizen or resides in Italy.

A marriage is considered valid in Italy if performed in a civil or religious ceremony.

A civil ceremony is performed at the city hall. A translator must interpret if one of the parties does not understand the Italian language.

A religious ceremony is performed by a Roman Catholic priest or a clergyman of any other denomination authorized by the Italian Ministry of the Interior to perform religious ceremonies.

If you want your marriage in Italy to be legally recognized in the U.S., the marriage certificate should be taken to the prefettura (the same office that authenticated the Consul’s signature) of the city where the marriage took place, to request the placement of an Apostille seal on the certificate.

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