Tying the knot overseas

by Senior Airman Caitlin Guinazu
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Photo18aMarriage is one of the biggest commitments made in life. It’s a promise to build a life together, to account for another’s needs and start a family. Once the commitment is made, the paperwork shouldn’t be the thing that keeps someone from taking the big leap.

Here is some helpful advice for those wishing to tie the knot overseas:

Plan ahead: Procedures vary from place to place and some require extensive preparations. When planning to marry in a foreign land, learn the requirements of that country. Marriages, which are legally performed and valid abroad, are also legally binding in the U.S., unless the marriage breaks U.S. state laws.

Documentation needed: Valid forms of identification or U.S. passports are required, in addition to birth certificates, divorce decrees and death certificates. Some countries require the documents presented to the marriage registrar first be authenticated in the U.S. by a consular official of that country. This process can be time consuming and costly.

Affidavit of eligibility to wed: Some countries require an affidavit to be submitted by both parties as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. The document certifies the end of any previous relationships, such as death or divorce certificates, and states that the party is free to marry. This government-issued document does not exist in the U.S.

Some countries require documents presented to the marriage registrar be translated into the native language of that country and authenticated. A list of certified translators can be found at the Ramstein legal office.
Marriages abroad are performed by the local (foreign country’s) civil or religious executives and adhere to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed.

Finally, if an American citizen marries a German citizen, the American does not acquire a German citizenship, nor does the German citizen acquire a U.S. citizenship. If deciding to live in the U.S. after marrying, the American spouse will need to apply for an Immigrant Visa on behalf of the non-American spouse.

For more information on getting married in Germany, pick up a marriage in Germany packet from the 786th Force Support Squadron passport office.