The Italian marriage certificate proves that 2 people are legally married. You might need to apply for a marriage certificate to support the Italian Visa application of your spouse, enroll with your spouse as a family at a Municipality in Italy, and much more. In any case, with this guide we will explain how to get an Italian marriage certificate, or legalize a foreign one to make it valid in Italy.
What is a marriage certificate
A marriage certificate is an official document stating that two people are legally married. In most cases, government officials issue the marriage certificate after its civil registration.
Different types of marriage certificates in Italy
Marriage certificates in Italy can be divided into 3 main types:
- Marriage certificate (certificato di matrimonio): it contains the main information of the event, such as the bride and groom’s personal data, date and place of marriage;
- Marriage extract (estratto di matrimonio): it contains the same information as the marriage certificate, but has additional information, such as separation of property agreements or further agreements made after the marriage, dissolution etc.;
- Act of marriage (atto di matrimonio): it is a true copy of the original document present in the Registry of Civil Status in Italy, which includes in full all the data related to the two persons involved in the marriage. It includes potential annotations, like the name of the celebrating pastor and church, residence of the spouses, the property regime adopted etc.
Unless said otherwise, this article refers to the Certificato di Matrimonio when dealing with the legalization of a marriage certificate.
Marriage certificates are useful to prove family relations during immigration processes. This may include the Municipality registration or a family visa application. For these immigration processes, it is of the utmost importance that the names reported on the certificate match exactly with the names reported on the person’s identity document (i.e. passport). If the names don’t match, additional documents must be provided (i.e. affidavit of identity).
Contrary to birth certificates who have an unlimited validity, marriage certificate have a legal validity of 6 (six) months from the date of release.
Validity of foreign marriage certificates in Italy
In order to be legally valid in Italy, marriage certificates issued by foreign countries must first be legalized. The legalization must be completed in the country that issued the certificate and it might involve an attestation by the Italian diplomatic-consular representation abroad, unless an international convention on the exemption of legalization applies.
To be valid in Italy, the marriage certificate also needs a translation into Italian, except if is issued on multilingual format as provided for by international conventions.
Translations must contain the stamp “per traduzione conforme“, to prove they are certified. Official translators can validate the translation in Countries where such profession exists. The consular office will then legalize their signature. The consular office will have to affix a certification of conformity for countries where translators are not available.
Validity of the Italian marriage certificate abroad
Similarly, Italian marriage certificates to be used in foreign countries must be legalized by the relevant authorities. Where no international convention applies, the certificate must undergo a full legalization process. This includes two main steps:
- Attestation by the local Prefettura – It will legalize only marriage certificates issued for foreign use and wet signed. Electronic signatures are usually not accepted as per current law dispositions;
- Attestation by the diplomatic-consular representation of the destination country of the certificate. In these cases, a consular fee is usually due to legalize the certificate. If in need of a translation, note that many consulates have their own list of official translators.
Apostille for Marriage Certificates
If the marriage certificate is intended for foreign Countries that have signed the Hague Convention, applicants are only required to apply for an apostille stamp on their certificate. In fact, the Hague Convention provides for the abolition of the legalization of foreign public documents.
In this case, the applicant can avail of a simplified process that does not involve the consular attestation.
For more information, have a look at the full list of Countries that have ratified the Hague Convention.
If you are interested in legalizing or getting apostille for your documents, have a look at our legalization and apostille services.
Transcription of marriage certificates
Italian citizens who marry abroad can transcribe their marriage certificate in the Municipality where they are registered in the A.I.R.E. registers (list of Italian living abroad). Such process is required for instance when applying for a residence permit for a non-EU spouse of an Italian.
Applicants residing abroad who wish to apply for the transcription of their marriage certificates must do so through the competent diplomatic or consular Representation. Alternatively, the Italian citizen may present the birth certificate in Italy, duly legalized and translated, directly to the relevant Italian municipality.
Birth acts issued by countries that have signed to the Vienna Convention – which provides for the issuance of a multilingual form – are exempt from legalization and translation.