You can get married in Germany even if you aren't a German citizen. In fact, marriage formalities are quite simple, but you are advised to enquire beforehand with your home country's embassy or consulate in Germany if you have already settled there. If not, you can still enquire with German authorities in your home country.
Specific documentation may be required, varying according to your home country or nationality.
Good to know:
Since 2001, Germany recognizes gay civil partnerships; same sex marriage is not currently recognized. Thus, both partners are allowed to change their last name, to support each other financially and to ask for financial aid in case of break-up. Gay widows and widowers are also eligible for a state pension.
How to register your marriage in Germany
It all begins with filing a request at the nearest Standesamt (magistrate's office) where the bride or groom is registered. In case you'd like to choose another location, they will transfer your application to the corresponding magistrate’s office. You can register up to 6 months in advance.
To notify the local authorities of your intention to marry, you need to present the following documents in original, along with German transcribed and notarized copies:
- both partners' birth certificates (a new copy in general)
- both partners' passports or EU ID cards
- a non-objection certificate (Ehefähigkeitszeugnis), which you can obtain at your home country's embassy or consulate in Germany
- proof of residence (Aufenthaltsbescheinigung) where applicable
- a divorce certificate in case of a previous marriage
- your deceased spouse's death certificate in case of widowhood
- fees applied
Generally, it's best to check with the local office which documents are needed. They usually have a list. The copies must not be dated more than 6 months old.
Procedures could take between 5 and 6 weeks and you cannot get married until you have received to certificate of capacity to marry. If one of the partners is not a German national, documents will be sent to the Oberlandesgerichtspräsident who will verify the couple's legal status before giving his approval.
After the wedding, other administrative acts may be considered, e.g. change of name, change of entry on one's tax card or an application to start a family book at a domestic registry etc.
Good to know:
Marriage in Germany is recognized by all European Union countries. It is best to enquire with your home country's embassy or consulate if you come from a non-European Union country.
Requirements for marriage
Both partners should be at least 18 years old to be eligible for marriage in Germany. Otherwise, parental consent will be required.
You must have resided in Germany for at least 21 days to be allowed to indicate your intention to marry before local authorities.
It is highly recommended that you inform local authorities if you intend to go back to your home country with your spouse later. Additional documents may be required.
You can proceed with the celebration of your wedding once you have obtained the authorisation to get married, but you are advised to inform relevant authorities beforehand if you want to change the venue. Most couples choose a historical building like the town hall. Many museums, palaces and castles also offer services.
The presence of two witnesses is compulsory. Given that the wedding ceremony will be conducted in German, you may have to hire a translator who could also be your witness.
If you wish to celebrate a religious wedding, you can choose among churches, cathedrals and many other venues. However, a Standesamt wedding is always required prior to the religious one. Needless to say, advance booking is required.
Good to know:
The registration of marriage with your home country's embassy or consulate is not mandatory, but still recommended for some nationalities.
If you are getting married to a German, be prepared for various traditional customs, which may vary depending on the local region. There is, for example, Polterabend when guests might smash porcelain cups and plates at your doorstep, expecting you to clean it up before the wedding for good luck. They might surprise the newlyweds with a log of wood to be sawn in half right outside the magistrate’s office while throwing rice at you - again for good luck. Another game is kidnapping the bride and taking her to clubs and bars until the groom saves her before midnight.
Usually the parents give short speeches, which can be quite formal. Like in many other countries, the groom will have a stag night. Hen nights have recently been adopted in the French way; the bride to be is meant to "sell" embarrassing items like string tangas or condoms to other guys, which helps to pay for the wedding (or the drinks that night).
Traditionally, the bride takes the groom’s family name, however nowadays it is the norm for many brides keep their maiden name or opt for double family names. The groom can also take on the bride's maiden name.
German citizenship after getting married
You are eligible for German citizenship if you have married a German national. In fact, naturalisation depends on your origin and on the length of your stay in the country. Generally after 2 years of marriage and 4 years of residence in Germany (and future unlimited right of residence), at least B1 German language skills and sufficient financial means, you should be ready to apply. A clean police record and an oath of loyalty are further criteria.
You can then submit an application (Einbürgerungsantrag) at the integration offices, including:
- passport or ID and proof of residency with photocopies
- passport pictures
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate or Familienbuch
- proof of German nationality of your spouse
- proof of financial means (payslips of the last 3 months, property, savings, pension schemes etc.)
- language certificate
- declaration of loyalty to the German basic law and compliance with the laws and directives
- you will also have to pass a test of citizenship (Einbürgerungstest).
Double-check if you are eligible to obtain dual citizenship (for example, if you are a citizen of another EU country), as it is not permitted in all circumstances.
BW Service - Information on marriage service-bw.de
Capacity to marry certificate - Virtual application form formulare.virtuelles-rathaus.de
Federal Foreign office - http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de
Wegweiser zur Einbürgerung www.einbuergerungstest.biz