Getting married abroad: The administrative side

When you dream of getting married abroad you're thinking of sandy beaches, romantic sunsets and idyllic seas. You aren't thinking about the boring, administrative process. Unfortunately, though, you can't have one without the other!

Getting married abroad is an unforgettable experience. The sun, the sea, the beautiful surroundings – it’s the perfect place to commit to your partner for the rest of your life. It gives you, and all your loved ones, a memory they’ll never forget.

But when you imagine your wedding overseas, you’re thinking about the venue, the flowers, the food. You aren’t thinking about the document legalisation process and the administrative nightmare you’ve got to go through first. Who wants to be thinking about Apostilles and stamps when you could be thinking about wedding dresses, beaches and Mamma Mia?

You can’t ignore document legalisation – it needs to happen if you want to get married abroad. If you don’t legalise your documents, there won’t be an overseas wedding.

What is document legalisation?

It’s the process of taking documents issued in one country and making them legally recognised in another. It’s so that the authorities in any one country can be sure that any foreign documents they’re dealing with are legitimate.

Generally, when you’re getting married abroad, you’ll need to provide:

  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • A Certificate of No Impediment (CNI)
  • (If a widow) Marriage and death certificates of previous spouse
  • (If divorced) Decree Absolute (Divorced papers)
  • (If legally changed name) Deed Poll
  • (If under 18) Parental consent
  • (If adopted) Adoption certificate

Some countries have extra document requirements, like sworn affidavits, but that list seems to be the standard for most. If you’re planning on getting married abroad and you aren’t sure what documents you need, get in touch with the Embassy of the country you’re going to (or ask your wedding planner, if you’ve got one). Different countries have different rules and procedures, so it’s definitely worth a check!

If you don’t have a copy of your certificate, don’t worry. We can get a replacement for you. Just visit our sister site, Vital Certificates, and we can have it sent to you within a few days. We can help with Deed Polls, too!

What’s the process?

Once you know exactly what documents you need to present, it’s time to legalise them. This is where things get tricky.

The legalisation process differs from country to country and, to make things even more complicated, different documents have different procedures. It’s the last thing you want to be thinking about when you’re trying to plan a wedding.

beautiful couple posing their wedding day

Generally, legalisation has three key steps:

  • Certification
  • Apostille
  • Consular stamp

To certify a document, you’ve got to find a solicitor or Notary public who is registered with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). They’ll make a certified copy of your document and sign it, confirming that they’ve seen the original and it’s legitimate. Not all documents will need to be certified, though.

Next, you’ll need an Apostille. It’s the cornerstone of all legalisation – you send your documents to the FCDO where they attach a little certificate (the Apostille), confirming that they’ve looked over it and it’s real.

Finally, you might need to send your documents to the embassy of whichever country you’re getting married in. They’ll look it over, check it meets their requirements, and, if it does, stamp it. You’re good to go, then – you can present your documents abroad, and you’ll be ready to get married!

How do I legalise my documents for getting married abroad?

It’s stressful enough, making preparations for the biggest day of your life. The last thing you want to be doing is worrying about document legalisation on top of everything else – trying to untangle the process, arranging appointments with the FCDO and embassy.

So just get us to do it for you. You send us your documents, we legalise them and send them back to you. With our 100% Acceptance Guarantee you don’t need to fret about them being rejected and causing any delays, and, because you won’t need to do anything yourself, you can spend your time planning your big day! It’s the perfect solution.

Declan Ramsden
Declan Ramsden

Declan is a Content Creator at Vital Consular. He studied English Literature for 4 years before joining the company. Outside of work, he enjoys listening to retro music and reading classic novels – particularly Charles Dickens!

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