It is possible to proceed with the transcription in Italy of marriages contracted abroad if they are celebrated in a foreign location and one wishes for them to be registered in our country.
Furthermore, the transcription of the marriage has retroactive civil effects to the date of its celebration.
Even if celebrated abroad, marriages can be valid for all legal purposes in Italy as long as they are conducted legitimately.
The office responsible for accepting applications for the transcription of marriages/civil unions contracted abroad is the Civil Registry Office of the Italian Municipality where one has residency, citizenship, or any other relevant connection (birth, past residency, etc.).
Celebrating a Marriage Abroad
If both spouses are Italian citizens or if one of them is an Italian citizen and the other is a foreigner, the foreign marriage can be celebrated by the competent diplomatic or consular authority or by a local authority, in accordance with the laws of the country where the marriage takes place.
The foreign marriage is preceded by publications aimed at verifying that the two individuals meet the requirements and that there are no impediments to getting married.
- Minimum age,
- Capacity to understand and intend,
- Free civil status, meaning no existing valid marriage bond.
- Presence of close blood relationships,
- Presence of affinities,
- Adoption relationship between the parties.
The absence of any requirement or the presence of an impediment renders the marriage invalid under Italian legal standards.
In some countries, a certificate attesting the absence of impediments to marriage or a "certificate of matrimonial capacity" under the Monaco Convention of September 5, 1980, might be required.
Italian citizens abroad are subject to Italian laws regarding marriage impediments. (See applicable law for international marriages.)
According to Article 28 of Law No. 218 of 1995, "A marriage is valid as to form if it is considered as such by the law of the place of celebration or by the national law of at least one of the spouses at the time of celebration, or by the law of the State of common residence at that time."
In the case of a civil union, the rules remain the same, but the publications are replaced by a verbal request in which the interested parties assume the responsibility to declare that there are no impediments as provided by the law (the same impediments that would prevent a marriage).
Transcribing a Marriage Contracted Abroad to Italy
To initiate the process of transcribing a foreign marriage into Italy, a joint application by both spouses must be submitted.
The spouses need to provide a series of documents to the Civil Registry Office of the relevant Italian Municipality:
- Marriage Certificate: A certified copy of the marriage certificate from abroad is required, serving as the main proof of the marriage.
- Official Translation: An official translation in Italian, duly certified according to Italian law, must be attached to the marriage certificate.
- Identification Documents: Copies of the identification documents of the spouses should be enclosed.
- Stamp Duty: If required.
- Additional Documents: Depending on the discretion of the office where the application is submitted, additional documents such as proof of residency or Italian citizenship may be requested.
Once the Civil Registry Office examines the documents and verifies the fulfillment of legal conditions, the document can be transcribed, and confirmation will be provided to the interested parties.
The same procedure is followed for judgments issued by foreign courts or foreign civil status measures, which must be transcribed in the Italian Civil Registry in order to be effective in Italy.
Transcription of Civil Unions Celebrated Abroad
Civil unions allow cohabiting couples to legally formalize their union with the competent authorities.
To transcribe a foreign civil union document, the original or a certified copy of the document must be presented.
While the procedure is the same as for marriages, in the case of same-sex marriages, since the practice is not currently recognized in Italy, the union is transcribed as a civil union.
The document must be legalized or apostilled, depending on the conventions between Italy and the country where the document was issued.
It must be accompanied by a duly certified translation.
The document must not contain elements contrary to Italian public order. Transcribing the foreign document will grant civilly united individuals and same-sex spouses the same rights as a married couple.
Marriage Abroad and Validity in Italy
A marriage (or civil union) celebrated abroad can be recognized in Italy, even if it may not meet the requirements demanded of Italians to marry (or enter into a civil union).
However, before requesting transcription, it is prerequisite to verify that the marriage meets all the requirements according to Italian law.
If the marriage celebrated abroad is religious, in order to be considered valid and effective in Italy, it must have civil effects according to the laws of the foreign state in which it was celebrated and must be transcribed as declarative value in the records of the Italian Civil Registry.
Timeline for Transcription of Marriage Document
The transcription of the marriage document is usually carried out within 30 days from the submission of the request.
Since the timing for completing the transcription may vary based on the availability of the relevant office, it is advisable to initiate the procedure as soon as possible after obtaining the necessary documents.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.