Getting married in Germany

Marriage in Germany
Updated 2022-11-07 04:34

Non-German citizens can get married in Germany, whether to a German citizen or another foreign national. However, beyond being a cultural and symbolic union, marriage is also a legally binding contract, requiring specific formalities and inevitable bureaucracy to be performed. Depending on your nationality, spouse's nationality, and immigration status (e.g., permanent resident, visitor, etc.), other documentation may be required. In this article, we will explore the different cases, and we will guide you through the steps to what we wish for you to be a happy marriage!

Requirements for marriage in Germany

First things first; before you start considering marriage in Germany, a couple of requirements must be met. Both you and your partner must be at least 18 years old to be eligible for marriage in Germany. Otherwise, parental consent will be required. Also, suppose you or your partner are not permanent residents in Germany. In that case, 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 the local authorities if you intend to go back to your home country with your spouse later.

Registering your marriage in Germany

Registering your marriage in Germany begins with filing a request at the nearest Standesamt (magistrate's office), where one of the two partners is registered. In case you'd like to choose another location, your local Standesamt will transfer your application to the corresponding magistrate's office, where you can register up to six months in advance.

To notify the local authorities of your intention to marry, you need to pay the applicable fees and present the following documents in original, along with German transcribed and notarised copies:

  • both partners' birth certificates (not older than six months)
  • 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, which explains that there are no legal impediments for the person to get married
  • 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

Good to know:

Generally, it is best to check with the local office which documents are needed and follow the list of documents they will provide you with. In principle, the copies you present must not be dated more than six months old. If one of the partners is not a German national, documents will be sent to the Oberlandesgerichtspräsident for verification.

The couple must appear in person at the magistrate's office. However, if one of the partners cannot make it, they can authorize the other partner to register their marriage. In the unlikely event during which both partners cannot be present, they can send a representative to register their marriage — as long as they are able to give grave reasons for their absence.   

If you or your partner are planning to change their name, now is the time to state what names you want to have after the marriage. For example, you can register a common last name, even though this is not obligatory under German law. In any case, if you haven't made up your mind yet, you can change your name after the marriage. Traditionally, the bride takes the groom's family name. However, it is the norm for many brides to keep their maiden name or opt for double family names nowadays. It is important to consider that changing your name means changing all your documentation and even contacting your previous educational institutions and banks. If you hurry to move to a different country, this might not be a convenient solution. 


Registration procedures can take between five and six weeks, and you cannot get married until you have received a certificate of capacity to marry. 

The civil wedding ceremony in Germany

Suppose the magistrate's office concludes that all the conditions for a marriage are met. In that case, you will be given the authorization to get married in the next six months and dates to choose from for your wedding day, which will take place in the registry office or another venue (e.g., town hall, church, cathedral, castle, etc.) of your choice. Some registry offices have special halls for special occasions and offer celebratory touches such as decoration, music, etc. Of course, you should bear in mind that some dates and seasons (between May and September) are more popular than others. Hence, if you are not that flexible, you should proceed with the registration of your marriage as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. 


A civil registry (Standesamt) is required before a religious ceremony. Also, note that the church may require some additional documents in advance, such as baptismal certificates.

During the wedding ceremony, the presence of two witnesses is compulsory. Given that the wedding ceremony will be conducted in German, you may have to hire a legal translator who can also be your witness.

Good to know: 

Marriage registration with your home country's embassy or consulate is not mandatory but still recommended for some nationalities.

Local customs in Germany

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 taking the bride to clubs and bars until the groom saves her before midnight. During the wedding reception, usually, parents or friends give short speeches, which can be pretty formal. 

A marriage contract in Germany

Of course, no newly married couple wants to think about the event of separation. However, a divorce is also part of life and not that uncommon. Since divorce is already an unpleasant experience, a lot of the stresses can be prevented with a marriage contract — a notarised arrangement between the two spouses stating how income, inherited properties, compensations, etc. will be managed in the event of a divorce.  

Good to know: 

A marriage contract can be conducted by a notary or a lawyer before or during the marriage (and before the separation). 

Same-sex marriage in Germany

Between August 2001 and September 30, 2017, homosexual couples had the right to commit to a life partnership. Since October 1, 2017, same-sex couples can get married under the German law, enjoying the rights of heterosexual married couples, such as financial support to family members (spouse and children), inheritance management, health insurance funds, a right to joint names, and a survivor's pension. Very importantly, married same-sex couples can adopt a child or children together or become the step-parent of their partner's child.  

German citizenship after getting married

All European Union countries recognise marriage that has taken place in Germany. However, you should enquire with your home country's embassy or consulate, if you come from a non-European Union country, regarding the validity of the German marriage in your home country. It may be required to follow a marriage registration procedure for your wedding in Germany in your home country. Getting married to a German national or to a foreigner that has a residence in Germany allows you to receive a residence in Germany based on your marriage. 

You are eligible for German citizenship if you have married a German national. In fact, naturalisation depends on your origin and the length of your stay in the country. Generally, after two years of marriage and four years of residence in Germany (and future unlimited right of residence), at least B1 German language skills (as a part of the naturalisation), 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 three 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)


Check with your country of origin whether you are eligible to obtain dual citizenship, as not all countries accept dual citizenship, and if they do, not under all circumstances.

Useful links:

BW Service - Information on marriage (information is in German)

Capacity to marry certificate - Virtual application form

Federal Foreign Office (for marriages happening outside Germany)

Wegweiser zur Einbürgerung (information about the citizenship test is in German)

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.