Who may perform marriages abroad?

Only marriages performed at a registrar’s office (“Standesamt”) are legally valid in Germany. A church ceremony may be held later, if desired. Consular officers cannot perform marriages and you do not need to register your marriage with the Embassy or Consulate.

Does marriage affect my citizenship?

If an American citizen marries a German citizen, he or she does not acquire German citizenship, nor does the German citizen acquire US citizenship. If you wish to live in the U.S. after marrying, the American spouse will need to apply for an Immigrant Visa on behalf of the non-American spouse.

Does German or American naming law apply when choosing the family name after marriage?

You may wish to print out our standard letter (PDF) and take it to the Registrar’s Office.

What documents do I need to get married in Germany?

This depends on what the registrar’s office (“Standesamt”) requires and may vary from case to case. The Standesamt therefore requires that you make an appointment and discuss with them what is required for you.

There are, however, some standard requirements that apply in almost all cases:

  • Your birth certificate.
  • It is a German requirement that all documents must have been issued within the last six months; therefore you may have to obtain a new copy of your birth certificate. The Embassy or Consulate cannot obtain documents on your behalf and cannot provide translations of documents. More information about obtaining vital records in the U.S., such as birth certificates, can be found at How to obtain vital records.
  • For U. S. documents to be accepted by the German authorities, they also require that you provide an Apostille.
  • All foreigners marrying in Germany require an “Ehefähigkeitszeugnis” which is a Certificate of Free Status stating that you are legally free to marry. This document may be obtained by making an appointment for a notarial service at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin or at the Consulate General in Frankfurt.
    Residents of Bavaria may take the oath on this document directly at the Standesamt and do not need to come to the Consulate.

What if I work for the U.S. military in Germany?

Please consult your Pass and ID section for further instructions about getting married in Germany.