Marriage in foreign Guides

How to get married in Italy as a foreigner: A step-by-step guide 2023


Dreaming about a wedding in Italy? If you are an international visitor, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. Step-by-step instructions on how to get married in Italy as a foreigner will be provided to give you a sense of direction in all wedding-related matters.

Here we’ll talk about:

  • different types of marriages in Italy,
  • rules and required documents for getting married in Italy as a foreigner,
  • step-by-step guide and timeline for all the paperwork and arrangements.

Types of marriages in Italy

Legally, Italy recognizes two types of marriage: civil and religious. However, all religious weddings in Italy, except Catholic, require a civil ceremony to be deemed legally binding.


Italy also allows for the recognition of same-sex relationships called a civil unions. A civil union grants you rights similar to those of a marriage.


You’ll also come across non-marital partnerships, often called cohabitations.

Civil marriage in Italy

Civil marriage is a non-religious union between two individuals. They occur in a secular context and are conducted in Italian by the mayor or the civil registrar.

Ordinarily, the civil ceremony includes the reading of articles from the Italian civil code and the exchange of marriage vows.

In Italy, they may be held in a local town hall or one of its permitted sites. If you’re concerned about the background, have no fear! Included among the allowed locations are historic structures such as medieval castles, palaces, and villas. However, the majority of venues are indoors.

Civil ceremonies:

  • are performed by the city mayor or a civil officer,
  • are conducted in the Italian language,
  • require an official interpreter (if one of you doesn’t speak Italian),
  • must take place in a building approved by a local town hall,
  • can be personalized by for example incorporating personal vows, poetry or music,
  • last 20 – 30 minutes.

Religious wedding ceremonies in Italy

Religious weddings differ from civil weddings in their religious setting and ceremonies. They take place in churches, where a priest and both families would read passages from the Bible.

Italians are predominantly Catholic. Italy does recognize marriages of all faiths, though, unlike Catholic ceremonies, they aren’t legally binding unless a civil ceremony takes place before such a wedding.

A mixed-religion wedding (between spouses of different faiths) however will only be allowed if your Parish Bishop approves it.

Catholic wedding ceremonies:

  • require one of the partners to be Catholic,
  • require a longer time to plan (you’ll need to coordinate between the Italian church, your local church, city officials and consulates),
  • are legally binding as long as they have a civil element within the service,
  • take place in a consecrated church or chapel,
  • are conducted by a Catholic priest,
  • can be conducted in English,
  • last around an hour,
  • require the paperwork to be submitted at least 2 months prior to the wedding but no more than 6 months,
  • require the bride to cover her shoulders during the ceremony.

De facto couples and de facto cohabitation in Italy

Coppie di facto or de facto couples are heterosexual or same-sex couples who live together and in a stable relationship, outside of marriage or civil union.

This type of partnership also known as cohabitation grants the rights to, for example, take over lease agreements or to be compensated in case of the death of the partner.

Couples can choose to formalize their relationship by making a declaration to the registry office of the Municipality of residence and signing a cohabitation contract.

The main characteristics of a de facto relationship are:

  • partners live together and have a stable loving relationship,
  • in case of death, the other partner can stay on their property for up to 5 years,
  • partners have the right to custody of their children,
  • to be formally recognized they need to register as famiglia anagrafica (household) in the city registry.

When cohabitation is formalised:

  • the couples have full rights to hospital and prison visitation,
  • they have the right to make medical decisions and receive personal information about the health conditions of their partner,
  • a non-EU partner might have the right to a residence permit,
  • a partner has the right to participate in the management and profits of the family business of their partner,
  • it’s possible to take over the lease,
  • one of the partners can be appointed guardians in the event of the disqualification of one of the two spouses.

The cohabitation agreement allows you to establish in advance who to assign the common goods in the event of a dispute. As a formal contract, it requires a private deed authenticated by a notary or a lawyer and the relative transcription in the registers of the Municipality.

With the cohabitations agreement in Italy, couples can decide on:

  • place of residence of the cohabitants,
  • their methods of contributing to the needs of common life,
  • any property regime of community property.

Contrary to marriage, cohabitation in Italy means that:

  • if separated, the economically weaker partner can’t demand support from the stronger one,
  • in case of death, the surviving partner can only become the owner of the deceased’s assets through a will.

Marriage in Italy: requirements

Rules for getting married in Italy

To be able to get married in Italy as a foreigner:

  • both partners have to be single, legally divorced or widowed,
  • in case the woman divorced less than 300 days before the wedding, she’s required to provide a non-pregnancy certificate to the local court,
  • bride and groom mustn’t be relatives, even if through adoption,
  • the ceremony requires 2 witnesses,
  • a partner under 18 requires written parental consent.

Documents for foreigners getting married in Italy

To marry in Italy as a foreigner you’ll need:

  • valid passports or ID cards,
  • original birth certificates,
  • if divorced or widowed, divorce papers or a death certificate,
  • a marriage Nulla Osta (certificate of no impediments) that you can request in the Consulate or Embassy of your country in Italy,
  • an Atto Notorio signed by two witnesses,
  • a declaration of marriage intent submitted to the civil register.

A Catholic wedding ALSO requires:

  • certificates of baptism, confirmation and first communion,
  • a certificate of attendance to the pre-marriage course,
  • a prenuptial inquiry issued by the archdiocese of your hometown,
  • a written letter from your Priest or Pastoral Advisor with his permission,
  • Nihil Obstat, a letter of no impediment to marry from the Bishop of the Parish in your country,
  • if one of the partners isn’t Catholic, a mixed religion marriage approval,
  • if the priest doesn’t perform the civil part of the marriage, a civil wedding certificate shows that you’re legally married.

Note that all the aforementioned documents must be sealed and stamped by the Bishop’s office.

Planning a wedding in Italy

Start planning at least 4 months before a civil wedding and 6 months before the Catholic wedding date.

Here’s what your wedding preparations should look like:

  1. Contact your home country’s consulate in Italy to get advice on obtaining specific documents.
  2. Consider the type of wedding ceremony you want.
  3. Book your wedding location in Italy (for popular locations, you might want to do this already a year ahead).
  4. Apply for a visa if you need one.
  5. Collect the birth certificates.
  6. Prepare the divorce papers or a death certificate if applicable.
  7. Apply for Nulla Osta in the Consulate or Embassy of your country in Italy.
  8. Get an Atto Nottario sworn by two witnesses.

It’s normally easier to obtain an Atto Nottario in the Italian embassy in your home country.

Otherwise, you can also request it in the Civil Court in Italy or in the civil registrar of the marriage office where you will marry. Keep in mind that if one or more people present don’t speak Italian, you must get an interpreter.

  1. Submit your declaration of marriage intent to the local marriage office where your wedding ceremony will take place.

10. If you opt for a civil marriage:

  • Contact the town hall of the location you chose for your ceremony.
  • Choose your witnesses.
  • If one of you doesn’t speak Italian, hire an interpreter.
  • Rent the town hall for your ceremony.

10. If you opt for a religious wedding ceremony:

  • Follow the pre-cana classes (they might take from one full day to 6 months, depending on your church).
  • Get a declaration letter from your local priest, stating that you’re active members of the church and that you’ve completed your pre-cana classes.
  • Obtain Nihil Obstat from the Bishop of your parish. It should affirm that you have no impediment to getting married and include the name of the church in Italy and the date when you’re getting married.
  • Complete a Prenuptial Inquiry Form and get it approved by the Bishop of your parish. The form must be written on the parish letterhead, signed and stamped by the Bishop’s office.
  • Check with your priest if your documents need a legalized translation. Most of the time, the Italian church is willing to translate it for you.

It’s important that you send these documents no earlier than three months before your wedding date but no later than one month before it. Otherwise, it can expire or be delayed.

2 months before the wedding

  • Send the originals of Nihil Obstat, Prenuptial Inquiry Form and the declaration letter directly to the Italian Priest of the church where you’re getting married.

Your priest will consult you on the best address where you should send these documents. Since Italian mail isn’t very reliable, we advise you to use courier services such as FedEx or DHL. Make sure to save the tracking number!

If you have a wedding planner, you can first send the scanned copies of all the documents to them for a check with the local priest before sending the originals.

  1. After you’re done with the paperwork, you can go ahead and plan your guest list, book your accommodations and prepare your ceremony!
  2. At the wedding, you’ll sign your legal marriage licence and receive an official marriage certificate. After your wedding, you should visit the town hall to verify it.

Is it expensive to get married in Italy?

Here are some of the fees you can expect to pay for the paperwork to get married in Italy as a foreigner:

A revenue stamp for Nulla Osta€16
A revenue stamp for the Atto Notorio€16
An application for the Atto Notorio€10.62
An application for the Nulla Osta€40

These are some of the costs you can expect from your Italian wedding ceremony:

ItemApproximate cost
Accommodation€100 per person
Wedding Planner€1500
Drinks€50 per person
Food€65 per person

You’re all set!

Now that you know everything about how to get married in Italy as a foreigner, we wish you a great Italian wedding that you deserve!

Happy planning!

David Thomas

it is our pleasure to have David Thomas on our Guest Authors list. He is a top educationist and a renowned researcher with major publications in his field of interest. David Thomas won a total of 7 fully-funded scholarships to complete his academic career and also won numerous fundings for attending international academic conferences.

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