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.

60 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 :)

  7. jasica says:

    Hi. I am a south african and my boyfriend is German.I will be visiting him for 3weeks and we planning to start a new life together in German.I have all the required documents for marriage in Germany .my question,is will it be possible to get married with that short period of time visa? wont i get deported before we finalise our marriage? what happened when you overstay the visa,while waiting for any paper work that needs to be complited?

    thanks in advance

    • Did you already get an appointment for the wedding?
      If that is at the beginning of your stay, you can then immediately apply for a residence permit.
      If that won’t be issued in time, you can either overstay (you won’t be immediately deported, although you may have a problem getting a Schengen visa again) or wait in a non-Schengen country close by, like on the Balkans. That’s still much cheaper than flying back to South Africa.

  8. Appiah Francis says:

    Please I am married to a German and we live together for almost 2 years now but now living with her is dangerous because she keep fighting me all the time and since I don’t want to do anything that will bring in the police I have decided to move out.my questions is that if I ask for separation now that is 2 year am i going to loose my visa and my work permit? Though I have been working since the day I got my visa and the working permit.thank you.

    • That depends on your citizenship and your job.
      I will be happy to answer your questions once I receive a donation to keep this blog going. Thank you!

  9. axinear says:

    How much time would it take normally for marriage process between non-EU and a German? And also my country is not giving me the letter of permission for marriage, too..

  10. Wali says:

    Dear Sir Madam,
    Thank you very much!
    For all the following important informations
    I really appreciated your help!
    My situation is very difficult I hope you can give me advice what to do and of course I follow your advices

    I am from Afghanistan
    Sense five years I am in relationship with a British woman
    So of course we are I. Serious relationship and we want to get married as well

    I am an Afghan I am holiday Italian subsidiary’s documents
    Which has been issued for five years and It’s valid until August of 2019

    I have my mother with me who has serious heart problem and she is over 70 years old
    At the end of 2014 I come to Germany with my mother
    Because in Italy it was not possible to leave life without any support etc
    So I come to Germany and applied asylum applications but I told everything to the German immigration office
    About my Italian documents

    So I am really thanking Germany
    Until now the supporting us and I live life with German duldung

    So my question is that
    Do I get married with my Italian documents or German duldung as well
    If i get married in Denmark
    I want to tell everything to the UK immigration office
    I don’t have to hide or lie anything in my marriage visa application
    If they find out any lies they will not issue any visas for 10 years

    Please let me know what I have to do?
    I really need your advice
    Thank you so much in advance
    Wali

    • For the marriage in Denmark, you should show the papers that show your true identity, otherwise you will run into problems later. If both the Italian and the German paperwork shows the same identity, you can present both.

  11. Surinder says:

    Hello Sir, i am Indian and live in Germany since 2 years. I have “Duldung”can i marrie in Germany. My girlfriend is German and we living together.

  12. Kitty Cheung says:

    Hi Andres ~ i am currently living in HK and want to get married with my German fiance in oct 2018. THERE is so much paperwork!!!!! i am flying over to apply for our marriage in early April however, i didn’t get the proof of residency documents ready (or i maybe able to get it ontime but won’t have it Apostille on time, do you think it will matter? (should i bring along some bank statements proofing my residency in HK (the lady at the registration office said that would be sufficient, according to my fiance).
    I will need the successful marriage application letter so that i can apply for my marriage visa
    around mid April in order to move over to Germany by end of June. Would i be able to get such thing right after my marriage application?

    Regarding translations, is there a list of certified translators or i just search online to find translation company to translate the documents? i saw somewhere that the translated documents will need to be signed by a notary to show the authentication of the translation. Is this necessary? Where can we find this person?

    Thanks a lot for your post!!! it really helped me a lot and i will update you as to how it went with my applications!

    • Have you considered getting married in Hong Kong, if that is easier, or in Denmark, where it is definitely easier? With that marriage, you could then apply for the spouse visa if you want to live in Germany together.

    • Kitty says:

      unfortunately, we didn’t think it would be so complicated so we have already booked the venue and notified friends… luckily we still have time and we began the search early this year regsrding paperwork , so it should still be ok.
      Just forgot to factor in Chinese New Year which delayed the approval of one of the applications><

    • You could keep the venue and have the friends show up there, just get the paperwork done before in Hong Kong or in Denmark. The act of getting married is just the two of you signing a paper and a municipal official registering it. I don’t think that’s the part that your friends want to watch (and if it is, just sign another document when they are there – nobody will notice the difference).

    • Kitty says:

      Hi Andreas, since we started the process, guess we will just have to go through with it.
      So the question now is, when I apply for the marriage visa in HK, they need me to leave my passport with them. But I am planning to go to Germany because of his mothers surgery while the visa is being processed, do you think it will be a problem for me to use my other passport (British National Overseas) to enter and exit Germany?

    • A much bigger problem is asking lots of questions without sending a contribution for my blog. ;-)

    • Kitty Cheung says:

      already done

    • Thank you very, very much for your generous donation!!

      You have two options:
      (1) The easiest way is indeed to use your BNO passport, with which you can stay in Germany (or indeed in the Schengen area) for up to 90 days out of 180 days. There is no problem using one passport one time and another passport another time. But you need to stick to the Schengen time limits, because you are still the same person and are only allowed 90 days out of 180 days. (It could be that nobody will check at the border if they only scan the passport, but if they check for your name and DOB, they might find out.)
      (2) You could also ask the German embassy/consulate to have your passport handed back if you can show the flight tickets. Obviously, you will only be issued the visa for Germany upon returning the passport. They can do that, but they won’t be very happy about the extra work.

      So if your BNO passport is still valid and you haven’t used up the 90 Schengen days yet, I would use that one.

  13. Gurjeet sharma says:

    Hallo sir .. my name is Gurjeet .. I live in Germany .. I have a duldung .. I want doing marriage in Germany … My girlfriend is cortian .. she is live in Germany also .. can we do marriage Germany…

  14. Leon Z says:

    Greetings Herr Moser,

    I have the following set of questions, hope you can help me.

    I am mexican, but I have already gotten the Niederlassungserlaubnis. Now, my girlf friend and I are getting a baby and, thus, getting married. She is ukranian and close to end her Abitur and, thus, get back to Ukraine.

    My question is: my Niederlassungserlaubnis is also extended to her if we get married? I have read that, if i were already married, my wife and children (if the case) will get that extended to them, but i haven’t found any information with regards the other case.

    Also, I want to ask you if you recommend us to get married in Germany (in this case, Frankfurt), or rather go getting married in Denmark? Please, advise.

    Thanks a lot for your time and kind consideration,

    Sincerly yours, Leon

    • Hello Leon,

      as to the second question: the marriage in Denmark is usually much easier, quicker and more straightforward. I would save myself the hassle of going through a two-foreigner wedding in Germany because you’ll be expected to provide tons of documents.
      As Denmark is a EU country, the marriage is fully recognized in Germany.

      For the first question, I would need to do some research, so I would appreciate a donation to my blog. What is the basis for your Niederlassungserlaubnis? Did you get a residence permit for Germany based on employment or as a student or some other reason?

    • LEON Z says:

      Thanks a lot for your kind and quick reply.

      How can i make a donation? I TOTALLY donate, totally worth it!!

      I got my Niederlassungserlaubnis because of high specialized worker regime. I’ve been working/living here since 2013 but till now i shall “tie-the-knott”.

      And, yes… i am of the mind of getting married in Denmark:faster, non-complicated and with not so much paperwork.

      Again, thanks a lot and, for sure, i shall donate
      Kind regards, Leon

    • There is a Paypal button on the right, but I think it’s sometimes not shown when accessing by phone or tablet. For a direct donation, the Paypal address is moser@moser-law.com.
      Thank you very much already!

    • Leon Z says:

      Dear Herr MOser,

      I have made a donation, you’ll be notified of it. I wasa bit confused beacuse button says:”Would you like a postcard from Montenegro?”, hehe.

      Again, thanks a lot for your kind support and your time and answers.

      Kind Regards, Leon Z

  15. chloe says:

    Good day,please help.I am stranded. I am South African,came to Germany in tourist visa. My boyfriend and i decided to get married here in Germany (his German).We already have the date to get married this months but the problem is that the Auslanderbehorder is saying that after marriage i wont get a Visa instead i will get a Duldong because i came in Germany with a wrong Visa.Please help me, what can i do? if i go back to SA and apply for family reunion Visa theres noway im gonna get it,since my Visa has now expired. With the Duldong its temporary and has terms and conditions ,basically i cant work or do anything. I am based in Karlsruhe and im scared that i might be deported anytime from now because of that. we have decided to go ahead with the marriage but the problem is that i wont get Visa. on what grounds can i get a Visa after marriage even though i have broken the law?

    • It seems that there are two problems:
      a) You came with a tourist visa instead of a fiancée visa. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you could show that getting married was a spontaneous decision and you didn’t have that plan when you applied for the tourist visa.
      b) Your visa has already expired. That’s the much bigger problem because it will prevent you from ever getting a Schengen visa again. Luckily for you, any long-term visas for Germany are not Schengen visas, so Germany can still grant visas.

      Normally, once you get married, you won’t be deported and things can be worked out. But my recommendation would actually depend on a lot of individual factors regarding you and your boyfriend, your qualifications (for possible other visa types), your income, the time frame (when was the wedding planned? why the overstay?). For such a full consultation, I charge 400 EUR. Usually, it would be an alternative option to get married in South Africa or indeed any other country, but as you already have the wedding scheduled for this month, that’s probably not worth it.

  16. Sina says:

    Hello
    Since the law of Germany bans females under 16 to get married, If a young girl with nationality of Iran under 16 has been married in Iran according to the law of Iran (so in Iran her wedding is legit and legal), and after that migrates to the Germany with her husband, Is this marriage known as legal in Germany or not?

    Thank you

    • Hello Sina,
      actually, even the law for marriage within Germany has been changed in 2017: now, both partners need to be 18 in order to get married.
      For foreign marriages, if one of the partners was younger than 16 at the time of marriage, the marriage won’t be recognized. You would need to get married (again) once you are 18 or older.

  17. N Ali says:

    Hi; I have been living in UK for last 9 years and overstayed my visa for two years. My girlfriend moved to Germany after finding her dream job there. She is Polish national and used to live with me in England. I cannot travel legally to Germany as I am an over-stayer :( and she is too scared to come to my home country to marry me and she doesn’t want to come back to UK because she might lose her job.
    Many Thanks and please help us, we are looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    • Without being in the same country, there is no way of getting married.
      I don’t really see why your girlfriend would lose her job for traveling to the UK for a day or two. You just have to find a municipality in the UK where they will let you get married despite your immigration status, then you will schedule a date and she will know long in advance when to fly to the UK.
      Or you can of course do it in your home country, but it sounds like it’s farther away, so the flight would be more expensive and more complicated, so she would be away from work longer.

  18. N Ali says:

    Dear Andreas;
    Thanks for prompt response. According to new UK laws, if a partner is from outside EU, all councils (Municipals) refer your case to Home Office who come over to your house in 60 days and if my fiance is not with me, they will deport me straight away and if she is with me, they will allow us to get married here but I’ll have to apply from my home country to be with my wife after showing the proofs that she has been working here in UK for at least 3 months if we want to stay in UK.
    Can I get married in Germany if I am there illegally but with valid passport?

    • Well, staying in the UK doesn’t sound like an option anyway, if she is living and working in Germany.

      In Germany, it’s possible to get married irrespective of the immigration status, but it’s quite complicated. And it may take a long time, during which the immigration authorities might be after you.
      Within the EU, Denmark is the easiest country. No questions asked, quick and easy, and valid in all other EU countries.

      What country are you from?

  19. N Ali says:

    Pakistan. Do they not check your immigration status in Denmark?

    • In Denmark, they just check your identity.

      Hmm, Pakistan is tricky because there are no cheap flights and she would miss work for more than a weekend. But at some point in time, she is going to have holidays.

  20. N Ali says:

    Yes but she is quite reluctant to come to my country.
    So if I can somehow get to Denmark with my passport, we get married there and on that basis I can apply to come to Germany to be with my wife?

  21. N Ali says:

    Thank you so much for your responses. I have made a small donation. So would you be able to help me more?

    • Thanks for your donation!

      If you manage to get to Denmark, you should be able to get married there with your passports and birth certificates only.

      After that, you could simply move to Germany with your Polish wife under the EU freedom of movement, you wouldn’t even need a visa (although you can apply for a residence permit).

  22. N Ali says:

    Please pardon me if I sound silly by asking this: Will I be able to work in Germany even without Residence permit after marrying ?

  23. N Ali says:

    Hi;
    My girlfriend has been to a lawyer who reckons I can travel to Germany from UK based on a permission letter issued by marriage office in Germany. Only problem is it can take up to 6 months after verifying all my details from my home country. Is that possible?

    • I don’t think that would work because the marriage office cannot issue visas. Only the German embassy/consulate in the UK could issue the visa, and they won’t do that if you don’t have a legal status in the UK.
      And you will always face the issue of a possible border check by the UK police, who don’t need to give a damn about any German letter, even a visa. If they want to apprehend you, they can. So, the practical problems remain.

  24. Marcel says:

    I have a question concerning marrying in denmark then coming back to germany. I read somewhere that if your partner visits you with a tourist visa in germany and gets married later on in denmark, the wife/husband is sent back to her home country because they think she faked her visa and had different intentions before flying to germany than to get married. Is that true? I wanted to marry my girlfriend in Denmark after she comes to visit me with a tourist Visa because it is much easier + we won’t get married in germany anyway this paperwork is just way too troublesome over here. I am now worried if our plan can work out at all. Plus to me in my personal opinion I am not officially engaged until I ask my partner face to face to marry me. But I am not sure if the government shares my believe and personal values and calls us cheaters of the system. Any advice? Are we at risk if we do this with a tourist visa and leave for denmark?

    • It actually depends on the citizenship of your girlfriend if she can convert the Schengen tourist visa into a German residence permit or if she would be asked to leave.
      But in most cases, it’s no problem.
      As to the engagement, legally you are engaged from the time you set the wedding date with the municipal office in Denmark. I don’t know how far in advance they are booked out, but I think if you pick a small town and are flexible, you might get an appointment on short notice. Then you could say that it was a spontaneous decision. (After all, you have 3 months on the Schengen visa.)

      Last thing to remember: Even if your girlfriend/wife was asked to leave, you might be able to go to another country outside of Schengen, but nearby (e.g. in the Balkans), saving her a possibly expensive trip to her home country.

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