10 FAQ on Getting Married in Germany

As part of my very popular series of legal FAQ, I now address a subject which I am personally completely opposed to: how to get married in Germany? My personal advice would be not to do it. Don’t throw away freedom like that. On the other hand, as a lawyer, I do of course know that sometimes marriage is the easiest way to get a residence permit for Germany.

Before asking a new question, please read through the comments which may already answer your questions. And do you see the “Make a Donation” button in the right column? If you find these FAQ useful or if you ask a new question, it would be very nice if you make use of it. Thank you!

1. What are the legal requirements to get married?

The requirements to get married in Germany are determined by the laws of the bride’s and the groom’s respective countries (Art. 13 I EGBGB). If requirements of a foreign law cannot be met, Art. 13 II EGBGB does however allow for exceptions in most cases and reverts to German law.

The requirements under German law are a minimum age of 18 (a court can grant an exception if one of you is 16 or 17 years old, § 1303 II BGB), that you are not closely related with each other and that you are both single/widowed/divorced.

2. I don’t understand all this legal stuff. I just want to know what documents I need.

It doesn’t get much easier, unfortunately, because that too depends on the country of your citizenship. But generally, you need:

  • a passport or an ID card,
  • a birth certificate,
  • a statement from your home country that you are eligible to marry under that country’s laws (“Ehefähigkeitszeugnis”) or, for countries that don’t provide such a document,
  • proof that you are single, and
  • a court order exempting you from the requirement of the “Ehefähigkeitszeugnis” (§ 1309 II BGB), which is however a straightforward process if you come from a county that regularly doesn’t issue such certificates.

Problems may arise if your home country is not cooperative or if documents have been lost/destroyed in a civil war or a war. Under these exceptional circumstances, required documents can be replaced by affidavits.

Notice that you do NOT need a residence permit for Germany. Even if you only have a “Duldung”, you are eligible to get married. However, in these cases it is often problematic to prove your identity and that you are single without providing further documents.

3. Heck, that’s complicated! You are known as a super-lawyer, don’t you know some tricks?

Honestly, in many cases it’s easier to get married in another country and then return to Germany afterward.

Within the EU, Denmark is known as the country where it’s easy and quick to get married. Sometimes, particularly when visas are not an issue, it’s also an option to return to the home country of the bride or the groom to get married there. – I am curious to hear about your experiences in other countries. If you have any, please leave a comment below.

Foreign marriages are generally recognized in Germany.

4. I live abroad, but I am engaged to a German. Will I get a visa to get married in Germany?

Usually yes.

Your future spouse would need to prepare all the documents and submit them to the local “Standesamt”. Once they have approved everything and given you an appointment for the wedding, you can apply for a visa to travel to your wedding. After that, you apply for a residence permit as the spouse of a German (§ 28 I no. 1 AufenthG).

5. I am only on a tourist visa, but I met this cute German guy. Can we get married right away?

You actually CAN get married while on a tourist visa in Germany.

The real problem however is that the 3 months are usually not enough to get all the paperwork from your home country together, to get it translated, recognized, filed and then to get an appointment for the wedding with the “Standesamt”. One pro-tip is to go to a smaller, non-touristy town where you don’t have to wait for months. And don’t insist on a weekend wedding. Huge weddings are overrated anyway.

balloons wedding

6. I got married to a German outside of Germany. Can I move to Germany now?

Only if you move together. You cannot use your marriage to a German as a reason to move to Germany if he/she doesn’t move with you. By trying to do so, you would kind of show that you are not living together, which is the requirement to get a residence permit pursuant to § 28 I no. 1 AufenthG.

If your German spouse is already living in Germany, you can apply for a residence permit for the purpose of family reunion. You need to show a basic knowledge of the German language at the A1 level (§§ 28 I 5, 30 I 1 no. 2 AufenthG), with many exceptions for specific cases (§§ 28 I 5, 30 I 3 AufenthG) depending on the country of origin, the educational level or other personal circumstances of the applicant. – But the A1 level is really easy and if you ever want to apply for German citizenship, you need to speak German anyway.

There are NO financial requirements like minimum income.

Remember that you don’t need any visa or permit if you live in or move to another EU country together with your German spouse, which is a viable option in cases in which the German Consulate denies a visa.

7. Will I get German citizenship when I marry a German?

No.

But if you are married to a German citizen, you can apply for German citizenship after living in Germany for only 3 years. For more on German citizenship, please check my relevant FAQ.

8. You keep talking about brides and grooms. What about same-sex marriage?

Germany did not offer same-sex marriage until 2017, but something very similar: a “Lebenspartnerschaft”, something like a civil partnership.

From 2017 on, there will be marriage for same-sex couples, to which all the other questions and answers apply accordingly.

9. Do you recommend that we get a prenuptial agreement?

That really depends on your financial situation.

a) If you are poor and are planning to remain poor, it may not be necessary.

b) In all other cases: yes.

10. You were right. Getting married was a mistake. Can I get an annulment or a divorce?

Please check my FAQ on divorce law in Germany.

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About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Family Law, German Law, Germany, Immigration Law, Law, Marriage and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 10 FAQ on Getting Married in Germany

  1. Pingback: 10 FAQ on divorce in Germany | The Happy Hermit

  2. An American, now married to a German, I was overwhelmed by the time (and costs!) associated with marriage in Germany….just to have a ceremony in the municipal building. In our town, they wanted a statement that I was not facing criminal charges, further, one from my town in the US, my State, and Federal Government. They wanted ALL of these to be dated no more than 30 days prior to date of marriage- which would be difficult to guarantee could happen- the State, for instance, had stated it would take 45 days. I was terrified someone would lose my request and therefore I couldn´t get married………not exactly ideal when planning to have family and friends travel in for the occasion. So, it was easier, less stressful and cheaper to get married in Vegas. We applied online for a marriage certificate, flew out with friends, and had a little vacation in the Vegas area. :)

    I did have to wait to join my husband in Germany, as I had been told they needed an Apostile for the marriage certificate. Vegas had a wait time of 30 (or so) days. Annoyingly, when we registered me at the Rathaus, they never asked for the Apostile.

    • Exactly right. I usually tell clients that if they have a foreign option, it will usually be faster and easier. You may have to pay for a flight and a hotel, but at least you are not shuffling paperwork for weeks.

      Regarding the apostille, in my experience, it’s rarely needed if the original marriage certificate is in English and if it comes from a country that the local “Standesamt” deals with regularly.

      When getting married abroad and returning to Germany without the option for tourist visa, another option would be to return to a different EU country than the one of your EU spouse. Because then you fall under the EU freedom of movement and don’t need any visa, just the marriage certificate. Once in the EU, you can of course simply travel on to Germany within Schengen without any further passport checks.

      • You are (obviously) likely (VERY likely) right. I chose the safe option. Wait it out. But, thanks so much for the clarification!!! Especially for those who may now, or in the future, need the information. :)
        With regard to the Apostile, they had actually told us it was 100% necessary to have…………….and then never looked at. The (Auslanderamt) knew what a US marriage certificate looked like (though they were the same ones who said we needed one!).
        Thanks for your blog, and your beautiful pictures. :)

      • Thank you!
        It seems to be a general problem around the world, government offices asking for documents and then never looking at them. Before going to South America, I paid a lot of money for vaccinations because the government websites of several countries stated that I need a yellow fever certificate. I crossed a lot of borders in the past 15 months and nobody ever wanted to see it. Well, at least I am not going to die from yellow fever…

  3. My fiance is from Germany, who moved to the US for 10 years now. He basically does not know anything on how to get married in his home country! But I’m glad that I came across your article, my marriage will hopefully take place in Berlin!

    • Thank you!
      In Berlin, you may have to wait a bit longer for a wedding date because it’s a rather popular city recently. But if you are not in a rush, everything should work out fine.
      Good luck!

    • Also, take it as a good sign: if he doesn’t know anything about getting married, he was never interested in it before and YOU are the only one with whom he wants to be for all his life. :-)

  4. Pingback: AllExperts is dead | The Happy Hermit

  5. Kevin says:

    Good day. My girlfriend and I have been together for a few years and lived together in South Africa (i am South African), she has had to move back to Germany (she is German). We are expecting a kid in September too. We are not ready for marriage yet but is there any other visa I can get to go live with her for longer than 3months?

    • Absolutely.
      You need to officially acknowledge paternity at the German Consulate and your girlfriend needs to sign a joint custody declaration either at the German Consulate or at the Jugendamt in Germany.
      Then, you will receive a family reunion visa to be with your child (sec. 28 AufenthG).

  6. angela says:

    Hi. I and my German fiancee are planning to get married in Germany but still waiting for his documents from Standesamt. I’ve been several times in Germany, last was last February and currently holding 3 months valid Schengen visa for 1 year. My question is. if everything goes well and we get his documents to get married, can we get married with my Schengen visa? we both living in Dubai and together for 9 years and will go to Germany to get married. Thanks a lot :)

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