Make it real

The Prague Post

Legal requirements for getting married

Your wedding day is supposed to be full of all things beautiful — the dress, the flowers, the cake, the legal documents. OK, maybe there are a couple not-so-fun things that go into planning a wedding, especially if you aren’t a Czech citizen but are planning to tie the knot here. Luckily, however, it’s really not that difficult for foreigners to get married in this country.

Petra Hofman, director of White Agency, a local wedding planning agency, walks us through the process.

“The first step [in planning your wedding] is the legal requirements,” Hofman says. “That has to be done, then you can relax. It’s solved.”

Hofman recommends starting your paperwork 30 days before your wedding date. And, for destination weddings, authorities will want all documents a month prior to the big day, adds Hofman, whose agency handles all the paperwork, translations and notarizations that need to be done for couples already living here and those coming here for a destination wedding.

According to Hofman, it’s really not difficult for a foreigner to get married in the Czech Republic, especially when compared with other countries.

“You don’t need to be a resident to be married in the Czech Republic,” she says. “And there are no special requirements like chest X-rays or a blood test, like in Mexico.”

The most complicated part, Hofman adds, is the different requirements for each nationality. For example, legal documents for U.S. citizens can be processed within a couple of weeks, while Irish nationals will have to wait around three months, Hofman says.

This is due to the legal requirements required by the home country. Generally speaking, if you know how long it would take to receive permission to marry at home, you’ll get an idea of how long it will take here, Hofman says.

Book date with registry office

Both civil and religious ceremonies are legally valid here, so your first step is to book a date in either a registry office or the church where you wish to have your wedding. But be careful if you are looking to do a church wedding.

“If you want to get married in a church, you also have to follow their rules,” Hofman warns. “For example, if it’s a Catholic church, you have to be Catholic, or some churches require a letter from your home church.”

Other requirements for weddings are similar to those in other countries. You must declare that both parties are legally allowed to be married and that they are aware of each other’s health. A marriage in the Czech Republic is fully recognized by countries around the world. After the wedding, the marriage certificate issued by the registry office has to be legalized by Municipality Hall and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The certificate then has to be translated by a court translator into the person’s native language.

“Some nationalities have to announce their marriage in their country of origin,” Hofman says. “For some, it is done automatically by the Czech Registry Office.”

If all this sounds like too much work, you have another option, albeit not a legally binding one. You can choose to have a symbolic wedding.

“This looks exactly the same as a regular wedding — celebrant, photos, etc.,” Hofman explains. “But it’s for people who don’t want to do the legal work. They are legally married in their own country and have the wedding here.”

The biggest mistake you want to avoid, Hofman cautions, is leaving this important step till the last minute.

“It’s not difficult, but you don’t want the frustration,” Hofman says. “Your wedding is supposed to be a beautiful day, and you shouldn’t be stressed by legal documents.”

Documents necessary for marriage

Birth certificate
Certificate of citizenship (i.e. passport)
Certificate of martial status and residence
Death certificate of previous spouse, if applicable
Legally effective ruling on divorce of a previous marriage, if applicable
Certificate of legal residence in the Czech Republic
All documents must be issued by your home country; translated and notarized
Source: CzechTourism

For more information: White Agency
www.whiteagency.cz