Getting married in Greece

Updated 2023-05-07 11:46

Dreaming of getting married in Greece? Whether you're a foreigner or a Greek citizen, tying the knot in this beautiful Mediterranean country is a possibility. However, there are some legal requirements and paperwork to consider, including obtaining a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI), translating documents into Greek, and arranging for a religious ceremony if desired. In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential information you need to know about getting married in Greece.

Who can legally be married in Greece?

It is possible for foreigners to get married in Greece regardless of their citizenship. However, non-Greeks who are marrying Greek citizens are required to have a valid residence permit.

While the minimum legal age for marriage in Greece is 18 years, couples who are younger can still get married with the approval of a court and the permission of their parents or legal guardians.

Like many bureaucratic processes in Greece, obtaining a marriage license may require patience, with waiting times that can span weeks or even months for processing. It is advisable to apply well in advance to allow for ample time. However, once approved, a civil marriage license can be issued in just seven days.

What documents are required to get married in Greece?

Below are listed the required documents both parties require to obtain a marriage certificate or license in Greece:

  • A valid passport or identification document.
  • A residence permit (if you are a foreign national marrying a Greek Citizen).
  • A certified and approved copy of the person's birth certificate. The document has to be translated into Greek. An apostille stamp is required on the birth certificate to certify it.
  • Divorce decree, or death certificate (with translation in Greek) if either has been married previously.
  • Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) must be certified at the relevant consulate. The certificate must be in English and Greek.
  • Evidence of wedding notices in the newspaper, in the case that one of the parties is a Greek Citizen.
  • In the appropriate case, a document showing the court decision that authorizes the marriage for a couple below the age of 18.
  • The marriage application fee, completed using a public fee voucher, παράβολο (paravolo) is 30€.

Certificate of No impediment (CNI)

Foreigners who wish to marry in Greece, regardless of whether they are marrying a Greek citizen or not, must obtain a Certificate of Non-impediment (CNI). This official document certifies that there is no evidence or objection that could hinder the marriage or civil partnership.

If already in Greece, foreigners may obtain the certificate from their Consulate in Greece stating their ability to marry legally. However, a minimum residency period in Greece may be required, and the certificate delivery time can take weeks.

The consular officers may also require proof of civil status from the applicant's home country, which can be obtained from registry offices or previous places of residence. The document must be certified with the apostille stamp to be valid in Greece.

If unable to obtain the certificate from the consulate, the next step is to obtain it from the local registry or records office in the home country or previous place of residence. It is important to apply to the consulate in advance to allow for a longer processing time or additional requirements.

The Apostille stamp or legalization of documents

The Hague Convention of 5th October 1961 has made the legalization of documents across borders easier with Hague Convention apostilles (stamps) since 1961. The Apostille stamp confirms the authenticity of the document, enabling its legalization. To obtain copies of documents like birth certificates and divorce papers, visit a government office in the country or region where the document is from. Note that each document requires an apostille stamp. If the applicant comes from a non-Hague Convention signatory country, they will need a letter from their local registry/records stating the document's validity. The Greek Consulate in the applicant's country of origin may also authenticate the documents. The notarization fee for documents at the Greek Consulate in the UK is around 35€, but fees may vary depending on the document type.

Useful links:

Apostille – Verification of the authenticity of foreign official documents - Other Services

KEP and Services for Greeks Abroad

Translation of documents

Similar to the Apostille Stamp certification, all legal documents submitted in the marriage application must be translated into Greek. The translation process must be "official," meaning that it has been approved by a lawyer, a certified translator, or the Greek Foreign Ministry's Department of Translation. If an official translation cannot be obtained, it is recommended that you visit the consulate closest to your place of residence if you are outside Greece and need translation services. This is a fee-based service, with the current cost of translation at the Greek Consulate in London being 34€.

Useful link:

Govgr official translation website

Marriage ceremonies in Greece

To have a religious marriage ceremony in Greece, you must provide the aforementioned necessary documents, along with a baptism certificate and marriage license, to the priest or clergyman of your choice who will officiate your ceremony. If you are outside Athens or on the islands, you should reach out to the local clergy to arrange your ceremony. Below are some contacts for different religious faiths for wedding ceremonies in Athens, Greece.

  • For Orthodox ceremonies: Contact the Archdiocese of Athens. Tel: 210 3352322. Email: [email protected], or you can contact your local Orthodox Church.
  • Protestant Ceremony: There is the option to contact First Free Evangelical Church in Athens. Email: [email protected] Tel: 210 3231079.
  • For further information, see the website. In addition, there is St Andrew's International Church.
  • Roman Catholic ceremony: Contact Saint Dionisios Aeropagitus Roman Catholic Cathedral. Tel: 210 362 3603
  • Finally, for a Jewish Ceremony, one can contact the Athens Jewish Community via email at [email protected] or call 210 325 2875. For further information, see the Athens Jewish Community website.

Registering your marriage in Greece

To ensure the validity of a marriage in Greece, whether it is a civil or religious ceremony, it must be registered with the Vital Statistics Office (Lixiarcheio) within 40 days of the ceremony. The registration can be carried out by either of the parties involved or by a person with a signed power of attorney from a Notary Public, granting them permission to register the marriage.

Once the registration process is complete, the marriage certificate (ληξιαρχική πράξη γάμου) should be available within 3 days. However, this time frame is not a guarantee due to the bureaucratic processes in Greece. The certificate can be collected in person or sent via courier. It is important to note that failing to register a marriage means it will have no legal legitimacy. If the registration is not done within 40 days, a fine may be imposed, and the couple may have to seek authorization from the District Attorney.

The required documents for a marriage or civil ceremony in Greece may vary depending on the institution and the office they were issued from. It is essential to collate all the necessary documents for the specific institution you choose.

Marriage certificate issued by the Greek Consulate

The documents required are :

  • The certificate of marriage given by the Greek Consulate
  • A valid passport or ID from the applicant.

Registration of the marriage is completed through the Special Civil Registry Section. It is the place for the registration of births, marriages, deaths and divorces. You can attend your local civil registry section in Greece, but you must make an appointment before your visit.

You can also register the marriage through the Special Civil Registry Section by either partner or via third-party authorization; however, this authorization must be approved by the ΚΕΠ (KEP) or the Greek consulate. Authorization can be completed by a certified Lawyer, although this authorization should be certified by the ΚΕΠ (KEP) or the Greek consulate, or other persons who have a legitimate interest.

Marriage certificate issued by a Civil Registry Office abroad

The documents required are:

  • The marriage certificate in the foreign country (document must be legally approved by the KEP or consulate)
  • An official translation of the marriage certificate in Greek (must be from translators approved by the KEP or Gov. gr. 3)
  • A birth certificate from the Greek citizen or both parties to be married, obtained six months before submission
  • A family status certificate from the Greek partners, evidencing Greek citizenship. The family status has to have been obtained in the last six months.

Again, the process of registering the marriage is done through the Special Civil Registry Section. The registration can be completed by any of the individuals marrying, by an authorized third party, using a notarization Special Power of Attorney, a Lawyer who is authorized through the Notarised Special Power of Attorney, or any persons with a legal or legitimate interest.

Religious marriage certificate issued by a church abroad

The documents you require to register the marriage are as listed:

  • The marriage certificate is given by the Church abroad where the ceremony happened. It has to be translated by an official body in the instance that it is not in Greek.
  • The marriage certificate from the church abroad must be verified by the Church bodies in Greece; as with Orthodox Christian marriages, the signature on the certificate is verified by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece or by The Order of the Athens Prosecutor on registering the marriage.
  • A Family Status certificate is required and must have been given in the last six months by the Civil Register, with the registration of the Greek partner or both persons if the two are Greek Citizens.

The Special Civil Registry Section registers the marriage. In this case, it can be completed by any partner, an authorized third party holding notarized Special Power of Attorney, an authorized lawyer using notarized Special Power of Attorney, or persons of legitimate interest.

What are the procedures for getting married in Greece?

  • If the marriage involves a Greek citizen, then a Wedding Notice is required. This requires a note published in the local newspaper stating their intention to marry. It must be published in the newspaper eight days before the application for the marriage license is made. There must be individual notices published for the bride and the groom.
  • To get married in Greece, obtaining a marriage license is a requirement. It is recommended that the couple visits their local Consular office with their valid passports or ID documents. Each individual will need to make an application, complete an authorization, and finally sign a declaration of No Impediment to Marriage (a certificate of No impediment). After completing these steps, the signed documents will be sent to the relevant municipality registry office. The registry office will then issue the marriage license and a birth certificate (if applicable). The fee for the marriage license application is 10€.
  • Depending on the type of ceremony you wish to have, you will need to submit your required documents to the relevant institution. If you are planning to have a religious marriage, you will need to submit your documents to the Clergy. On the other hand, if it is a civil service, you will need to submit them to the Registry office (ληξιαρχείο). If you plan to have both a civil and religious ceremony, you will need to submit your documents to both the Clergy and Registry office.
  • After your marriage or civil ceremony, it is necessary to submit your required documents to the Vital Statistics office (ληξιαρχείο) to register your marriage. Without registering your marriage, it holds no legal validity. It is important to complete this process within 40 days after the ceremony.

Same-sex marriage in Greece

Regrettably, Greece has yet to acknowledge same-sex marriage. This is partly due to the significant influence the Orthodox Church still holds in the country. Nevertheless, NGOs and Human Rights organizations are optimistic that this will change in the near future. Since 2015, same-sex couples have been able to choose civil unions as an alternative. Civil unions provide the same legal rights as marriage without undergoing the marriage process.

Marriage traditions in Greece

In terms of traditions, many in Greece are related to Greek Orthodox marriages, as the country is fundamentally Orthodox. The movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" is often used as a reference point, though it may be exaggerated. Greek weddings are typically grand affairs, with sometimes over 500 guests! This is because Greeks usually get married in front of their friends, family, parents' friends, and wider circles, making it a spectacular event.

The date of the wedding ceremony holds significance in Greek weddings. Religious days such as August 15th, the Day of the Virgin, as well as the days leading up to Christmas and the fasting period of Lent, are usually avoided.

Although a dying ritual, traditionally, close family members and friends gather to make the couple's bed (to krevati) and scatter it with gifts symbolizing fertility and prosperity, such as coins, petals, and almonds, in the hope that luck will transfer to the newlyweds. It is customary for a baby to be placed on the bed, symbolizing the gender of the couple's firstborn. The bed is made by the bride and her unmarried friends/bridesmaids, and only after its completion does the groom give his approval.

As an act of brotherhood and trust, the groom is then shaved by his best man, known as "koumbaro" in Greek. Such acts emphasize the Koubaro's role in helping the groom prepare for his wedding day. Similarly, the Koubaro may also help the groom put on his jacket or gift him a boutonnière (lapel flower) to symbolize that he is ready to take his place at the altar. Similarly, the bride has a "koumbara" or maid of honor to help her get ready for the wedding. The Koumbara plays an important role in supporting the bride by organizing the Bachelorette party and helping her pick her dress, and continues to support her throughout the ceremony.

The emphasis on bidding farewell to the single life is a common theme in Greek bridal traditions. For example, the bride often writes the names of all her single friends present on the bottom of her wedding shoes, and after dancing at the wedding party, the names are usually rubbed off, foreshadowing that her friends won't remain single for long.

To ward off ill will or evil spirits, the bride usually wears a small blue eye, "mati", that protects her from the curse of the evil eye.

The Greek Orthodox marriage ceremony is filled with symbolic traditions that make it poignant and joyful in celebrating the beginning of a couple's life together. As mentioned earlier, the Koubaro and Koumbara play critical roles in the wedding preparation and during the ceremony. The couple has gold crowns (stefanas) placed on their heads by the groom's Koumbaro. They are connected by a strand of ribbon, representing the amalgamation of the couple as one. The crowns are then moved over the heads of the couple three times to signify the Holy Trinity. Similarly, the couple drinks wine from the same cup and is guided around the ceremony table three times by the groom's Koumbaro (again to signify the Trinity), while the priest offers a prayer for the couple.

As the bride and groom leave the church, it is customary to shower them with rice as a symbol of fertility and health.

The fun then begins with the reception or wedding party! The newlyweds start with their first dance, and then everyone gets involved in classic wedding dances such as Zeibekiko, Sirtaki, and Tsamiko. Most of these dances involve participants joining arms and dancing in synchronicity. So, if you get called up to dance at a Greek wedding, make sure you have your wits about you, as the dances can speed up, so you'll need quick feet!

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.