Italy is probably among the most romantic destinations in the world to get married in and one does not have to live in the Bel Paese to be able to do it. However, it is important that non-Italian citizens be aware of the steps, paperwork and procedure involved if considering an Italian wedding. Italian Consular offices are the best sources of accurate information.
Regulations are the same nationwide when getting married in Italy. In the case of a civil ceremony, along with two witnesses, Americans wishing to marry in Italy must appear before the Ufficiale di Stato Civile and declare their intent to marry at least three days prior to the ceremony. The following documents must be presented at this time:
A nulla osta, an oath notarized by the competent U.S. Consulate in Italy, stating that there are no obstacles to the marriage as defined under American laws. The U.S. Consul’s signature affixed to this document must then be authenticated by the Ufficio Legalizzazione at one of the region’s Prefetture. A marca da bollo (administrative stamp fee) must also be presented to cover the cost. It can be purchased at a tobacco shop (tabacchi) and is then presented to the clerk at the Ufficio Legalizzazione for each document to be authenticated.
It is essential to remember that prior to leaving for Italy to marry, the couple must also obtain an Atto notorio, stating there are no legal impediments to the marriage as defined under Italian laws. This is an oath sworn in the presence of two witnesses at the Legal Sector of the competent Consulate of Italy in the U.S. At the time of the appointment, each applicant will need to produce: a) a certified copy of the birth certificate in Long Form, which includes the names of both parents, legalized with an Apostille from the Secretary of State of the State where the birth took place. The birth certificate must have an Italian translation authenticated by the Italian Consulate with jurisdiction the State of residence in the U.S.; b) a signed Statements from the County Clerk – Vital Records Division indicating that there is no record of a current marriage for each applicant. These documents, too, must each bear an Apostille from the Secretary of State, however, will not need to be translated. In case of previous marriages, the following items must also be produced: a final decree of divorce, legalized with an Apostille from the Secretary of State of the state where the divorce took place, and an Italian translation certified by the competent Italian consular authority. The divorce certificate decree must also be accompanied by a certificate of No Appeal issued by the County Clerk where the divorce was registered, legalized with the Apostille and completed by a translation in Italian. In the event of the death of a previous spouse, a death certificate of the previous spouse, legalized with the Apostille issued by the Secretary of State of the state where the event took place and an Italian translation that is certified by the competent Italian consular authority must be submitted. Applicants who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces must also acquire a consent to the marriage from the Commanding office. It is important to keep in mind that a previous marriage of the bride must have been dissolved at least 300 days before the date of the intended new marriage in Italy and also that the Atto Notorio is only valid for 90 days.
A marriage is considered valid in Italy if performed in a civil or religious ceremony. A civil ceremony is performed only at City Hall. A translator must interpret if one of the parties does not understand the Italian language. A religious ceremony is performed by a Roman Catholic priest or a clergyman of any other denomination, authorized by the Italian Ministry of the Interior to perform religious ceremonies. For religious weddings, the couple must directly contact the marriage officiant in order to obtain specific information relating to religious records and steps needed. Consular offices do not provide assistance related to a religious ceremony.
Finally, it is noteworthy to point out that significant changes regulating Civil Unions between Individuals of the Same Sex and Rules Regarding Cohabitation in Italy have become effective last year. In accordance with Decree no.144/2016 issued by the President of the Council of Ministers, Civil Unions contracted according to Italian Law in an Italian Consulate can now be registered in the Vital Records Registry. Furthermore, the Consular Office can now send foreign Marriage or Civil Union Certificates between people of the same sex to the Comune (town) of reference for registration of the same in the Provisional Registry of Civil Unions established through said Decree.