Quick and easy guide for your dream wedding
Getting married abroad, every destination will require both the bride and groom to have:
- A full 10-year valid passport with more than six months remaining before expiry
- Full birth certificates
- If divorced, the decree absolute
- If widowed, the marriage and death certificates of the deceased spouse
- Deed poll proof of any name change
- Adoption certificate if relevant
Most destinations will require original documents or certified copies. Check whether photocopies are also necessary.
Other common documents
- Certificates of no impediment The bride and groom need one each and they can be obtained from the local registry office. They usually take around a month to issue and cost about £30. They are generally regarded as being valid for six months from the date of issue.
They are required in Aruba, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Lapland, Malta and Turkey.
- Single Status Statutory Declaration Each person who has never been married will need one of these, stamped and certified by a solicitor no more than three months before the return date of travel, in destinations including Antigua, the Bahamas, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Lapland, Kenya, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
Special requirements for Caribbean destinations
- Antigua Documentation needs to be approved by the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs in St John’s and a marriage application completed. Wedding ceremonies are conducted by the registrar or by a civil marriage officer, and must take place between 8am and 6pm.
- Aruba Couples must hold a ceremony at the Civil Town House, but can also hold an additional ceremony at the beach, resort, on a boat etc. Two witnesses are required.
- The Bahamas A special licence taking 24 hours to process must be applied for from the Registrar General’s Office, Nassau and Freeport, or the Commissioner’s Office, Out Islands. All documents must be notarised by a solicitor.
- Barbados A marriage licence must be obtained in person from the Ministry of Home Affairs. Two witnesses are needed, plus valid return tickets.
- Cuba Some documents may need to be translated into Spanish by a translator approved by the Cuban embassy. All documents must be legalised by the FCO and then validated by the Cuban consulate in London prior to the wedding.
- Dominican Republic All documents must be legalised by the FCO, translated into Spanish and legalised by the Embassy of the Dominican Republic, from which clients will also need a tourist card.
- Jamaica If an application for a marriage licence is made in advance, couples can get married 24 hours after arrival. Arrangements can be made through hotels and operators or directly through the Ministry of National Security and Justice.
- St Lucia There is a no residency policy in St Lucia so couples can marry hours after they arrive. A solicitor needs to apply for a marriage licence – this can be arranged by hotels and operators.
Special requirements for Long haul destinations
- Bali Must have 7 nights residency in their hotel prior to getting married, residency period does not include Weekend / Bank holidays. Certificate of No Impediment must be obtained from local registry office before travel. This document is only valid for 3 months. Couple must visit the Consulate in person for endorsements, once before the wedding and once after. Taxi transfer and price for endorsement are payable locally.
- Kenya A special marriage licence can be applied for with a minimum residency of three days. Written parental consent is needed if the bride and groom are under 21, which must be stamped by a solicitor.
- Mauritius If bride divorced and remarrying within 10 months, must do a pregnancy test in resort (local charge).
- Mexico Minimum residency is 3 business days (Monday-Saturday are classed as business days). Couples must arrive in resort by 3pm in order for that day to be considered as their first day. Compulsory blood test and medical taken in resort (local charge), documents translated in resort (local charge).
- Seychelles A copy of previous marriage certificate is also required with the applicable divorce document.
- Sri Lanka During some public holidays alcohol can’t be served in hotels, so check in advance.
- Thailand Couples who want to jet straight to the beach can only have a blessing. To legally marry, clients have to spend about four days in Bangkok. The process, involves visits to the British embassy and the Thai district registry office to make applications and sign papers before moving on to the wedding location.
- The US Issuing marriage licences in the US requires just one visit to the local county court office where it is usually issued immediately and can be used straight away. The cost varies from state to state.
Special requirements for European destinations
- Cyprus Anyone wishing to get married in Cyprus must apply in person on their arrival to the marriage officer in the municipality of their choice. Visit ucm.org.cy for more information. Most couples choose to apply for the more expensive special licence (€282), which allows them to marry after three working days in the resort. Couples also need an affidavit stating a range of personal details, issued and stamped by a solicitor. Two witnesses are required, who must bring their passports. Couples can have civil or religious ceremonies.
- Greece Exact requirements vary from island to island so it’s best to check with the tour operator you book through. Many islands require copies of the couple’s passports, certified by a solicitor, and documents should be legalised by the Foreign Office – see gov.uk/marriage-abroad for more information. Most also ask for copies of the documents translated into Greek by a translator approved by the Greek embassy in London, and some islands need them to be sent to the embassy for checking prior to the wedding.
- Italy The minimum residency period before a wedding can take place varies between four and seven days in different parts of Italy. Two witnesses are needed and should bring their passports. Previously married brides must have been divorced or widowed for 300 days or more before the ceremony. Local charges may apply and documents may need to be translated into Italian.
- Lapland Documentation needs to be certified by the FCO and passports also need to be certified by a solicitor.
- Malta Minimum stay prior to the ceremony is two days. Forms RZ1 (Publication of Banns) and RZ2 (Declaration of Oath) must be completed no more than three months before return date of travel. These are issued by the Maltese government and must also be certified by a solicitor, as must a third- party affidavit confirming the single status of both people. A government tax of approximately €90 is payable on weddings. For more information contact the marriage registry office in Valletta.
- Turkey A marriage licence is needed and can be applied for locally after ones day’s residency. The couple should take eight passport photos each with them. All documents must be translated at the British consulate and bride and groom may need to get a medical report or blood test locally as a formality. These will all incur extra costs.
This information is a guideline only for British passport holders. Non British passport holders or those with documents issued outside of the UK should contact their local embassy. Some specific hotels and resorts may have different guidelines, which can change at any time, it is therefore advisable to speak with your weddings specialist. Additional charges will apply if documents have to legalised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This is only applicable in some destinations. Documentation can change without prior notice, the information given at time of booking is correct. In some destinations, it is necessary to visit a local government office prior to your celebration, which is not included in the cost of your wedding package. Should you require any Visa information, please contact your locally embassy for information and applications. At short notice, laws and requirements are subject to change.