For many couples, a wedding in Italy is what dreams are made of.
It’s considered one of the most romantic countries to get married, offering brides and grooms the chance to tie the knot in the most beautiful, historical, and scenic locations.
Sicily is chosen time and time again as a place that combines all these elements.
But before this dream is made a reality, there are several stages to go through to make it possible.
We have put together this ultimate guide to the legal requirements of marriage in Italy, so that you can understand the first steps you need to take.
The legal requirements vary based on which country you come from, and on which type of ceremony (religious, civil, symbolic, etc.) you wish to have.
When it comes to planning a destination wedding, while entirely possible to organise yourself, we highly recommend hiring an expert local wedding planner.
Our highly experienced wedding planner will be able to guide you through every step and remove the stresses that inevitably arise!
In both cases keep on reading and find out the paperwork you’ll need to getting married in Italy (or Sicily!).
Marriage in Italy: type of possible weddings
1. Religious ceremonies
As a country with a rich religious history, Italy is chosen frequently by couples looking to have a religious wedding ceremony. The country has no shortage of charming and historical churches providing an intimate and humble setting.
Italian law states that Catholic ceremonies must take place within a Catholic church and conducted by a Catholic priest.
When it comes to the dates regarding paperwork, you must obtain it within (but not before) 6 months of your planned wedding date.
The archdiocese in Italy must receive this paperwork at least 2 months prior to the wedding.
For Jewish weddings, there are many beautiful and historical synagogues that make for both a stunning and suitable wedding location.
Depending on the Rabbi, you may also be able to get married in an alternative venue such as a villa or outdoor location.
Make sure to contact your Rabbi soon as you know you want to get married in Italy, so that there is plenty of time for him to support you with the relevant documentation.
Protestant and other religious weddings can also be held and be a ‘civil ceremony’ meaning it’s legally binding in Italy, otherwise you can also choose to have a >‘marriage blessing’ which is less official. In this case, you will need to provide proof of the civil ceremony.
2. Civil weddings
A civil wedding is legally binding and recognised by Italian law.
Perhaps the main limit of a civil wedding is the location: this type of wedding must be conducted in an authorised venue(usually a town hall) and is overseen my a local government official.
Bear in mind that even though the religious wedding ceremony and the civil wedding ceremony can both be overseen by a minister, it does not mean that a religious ceremony is automatically a civil ceremony.
Since it’s legally binding, there is a lot of paperwork involved in Civil wedding ceremonies, and which you need to organise before arriving in Italy.
This also varies depending on your Nationality. The best way to overcome the bureaucratic challenge is with the help of an expert wedding planner.
Another option is to have the civil wedding in your own country, before coming to Italy for the symbolic ceremony.
3. Symbolic ceremonies
A symbolic ceremony is what its name suggests: not a legally binding ceremony but one that otherwise has the characteristics of an official wedding.
You still say you ‘i do’s’ but it does not have any legal weighting.
Many couples who want to get married in Italy choose to have both types of ceremony because the Symbolic ceremony gives you a lot more choice in terms of location and wedding style.
In Sicily there are endless options for a beautiful symbolic ceremony: it could take place on the beach, in a royal palace, on a volcanic island, or even on a private yacht (for some inspiration check our post about the best and unique wedding venues in Sicily)
4. Same-sex marriage in Italy
Same-sex civil unions are finally legal ( since 2016) in Italy. Meaning anyone is free to make their love official in one of the most romantic destinations possible.
Much of the planning and preparation is the same as a mixed-sex wedding. However, there is currently one main difference, which is that there is a mandatory period of time the couple must wait between their appointment at the town hall and the date of the ceremony.
The legal documents required from the town hall in Italy may also vary slightly, but not always so it’s best to check with the town hall itself (unless you have chosen a destination wedding planner, who will take care of all such tasks).
Getting married in Italy – What documents do you need?
To get married in Italy you do not need to be a resident, however, in order to legally get married here, it is necessary to present certain papers and certifications.
We have listed the most important ones.
Our destination wedding planner services include practical help to deal with the legal side so that you can be sure you have all the papers in order and can get married without troubles or worries.
Paperwork for a Catholic wedding
If you would like to have a Catholic wedding in Italy, there are several requirements you need to fulfill and paperwork that you need to gather. You need:
- To be granted permission from your Parish Bishop and complete the Pre-Cana course, in addition to gathering the required baptis, communion and confirmation certificates
- Written permission from your parish priest, stating their acceptance of your wedding taking place in your chosen church in Italy
- Another permission letter (Same as above) but from the bishop of the parish
- Provide proof of the annulment of any past marriages
- Pre-Nuptial Enquiry Form for each person to be completed by the priest
- Certificate of civil wedding certificate, if the Italian priest is conducting only the religious ceremony side
- If one part of the couple is not Catholic, you need permission from your church allowing a “mixed-religion” wedding
How to get all paperwork for your destination wedding in Italy
Generally speaking, there is plenty of conflicting advice when it comes to what paperwork you need for your destination wedding in Italy.
The requirements also vary depending on which country you are from.
For example, if you are a British citizen, there are four main things you will need:
- Certificate of no Impediment. This is obtained from your local Registry Office in the UK
- The statutory declaration which you can download here
- To legalize your documents: after obtaining 1 and 2, they need to be legalised by the FCO Legalisation Office. This is done via their website.
- The translated version of the [legalized] Certificate of No Impediment.
These documents then need to be submitted to your chosen town hall in Italy where you wish for your wedding to take place.
If you are an American citizen, the requirements are slightly different. You will need:
- To obtain the Atto Notorio. You should request this from your nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate in the United States.
- Get the Nulla Osta from the U.S. consulate in Italy. You need to make an appointment via your embassy and must be at least one month before your wedding. But bear in mind the document expires after 6 months.
- Have the Nulla Osta in legalized in Italy. This can be done at the local “Prefettura” of the district where you have chosen to get married.
To find out which paperwork is necessary for your nationality, visit the website of your country’s embassy.
The Nulla Osta and how to get it
The Nulla Osta is the Italian version of the ‘Certificate of no Impediment’, which is a legal document stating the couple has the right to be married.
This is a fundamental document for foreigners getting married in Italy, and it must be sworn within Italy.
To obtain it, you will need to apply at your country’s consulate in Italy.
For example, if you are an Australian citizen, the Nulla Osta is obtained from the Australian Embassy in Rome or the Australian Consulate-General in Milan.
You will need to make an appointment through your country’s embassy in advance.
Costs of legal paperwork for getting married in Italy
The cost of the legal paperwork for getting married in Italy depends on which country you’re coming from and therefore which documents you need to obtain.
For example, for an American citizen following the process above, the cost is:
- The fee for the Atto Notorio is around $20.00 USD
- The fee for the Nulla Osta is $50 USD
- The fee for the legalization of the Nulla Osta is €16,00 EUR
How long do you need to be in Italy before getting married?
Technically speaking, there are no requirements for the number of days you need to spend in Italy before getting married here. You do not need to be a resident.
However, you do need to make sure you have enough time to make sure all the paperwork is sorted and everything is organized.
The time you need in the run-up to the wedding will depend on the type of service you have chosen, and whether or not you have hired a destination wedding planner.
If you are organizing your wedding and your paperwork yourself, then it is recommended that you arrive in Italy 3-5 days before the wedding so that you can submit your legal documents at the town hall and collect your finalized Nulla Osta.
If you have the support of a wedding planner, then there will be much less to do in terms of organization.
The process for finalizing your paperwork will also be easier as they can help guide you through every stage with clarity and ease.
List of all documents you need for getting married in Italy
Generally speaking, if you are a foreigner wanting to get married in Italy, you will need:
- Your passport
- Birth certificate
- The [legalized] Nulla òsta, or the equivalent certification of no impediment
While this information is as accurate as possible, if you are not hiring an expert wedding planner, and instead are organizing things yourself, we recommend that you consult the Italian Embassy or Consulate for your country to receive up to date and official advice on the steps you need to take to obtain all the necessary paperwork for marriage in Italy.