Marriage Abroad FAQs

Who may perform marriages in Germany? 

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?

No. If a U.S. citizen marries a German citizen, he or she does not acquire German citizenship, nor does the German citizen acquire U.S. citizenship. If you wish to live in the United States after marrying, the U.S. spouse will need to apply for an Immigrant Visa on behalf of the foreign spouse.

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 first step is to make an appointment with the Standesamt and discuss 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 consulates cannot obtain documents on your behalf nor provide translations of documents. More information about obtaining vital records in the United States can be found at: How to obtain vital records.
  • German authorities might also require that you provide an apostille for some of your vital documents issued abroad. An apostille must be acquired from the authority which issued the document. Generally the embassy and consulates cannot provide apostille for vital records unless they were issued by the U.S. Department of State.
  • All foreigners marrying in Germany require an Ehefähigkeitszeugnis which is a Certificate of Free Status stating that you are legally free to marry. To fulfill this requirement, U.S. citizens are required to take an oath at the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt or the U.S. Embassy in Berlin attesting to their marital status. Residents of Bavaria may take the oath directly at the Standesamt. This bilingual document, valid for six months, may be obtained during our walk-in hours or by appointment for a notarial service at the Consulate General in Frankfurt  (bring the appropriate form from this list) or notarial service at the U.S. Embassy Berlin (bring this document).

Is my marriage abroad recognized in the United States?

To know if your marriage will be recognized in the United States and what documentation may be needed, contact the office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States. You do not need to register your marriage with the embassy or consulate.

Does German or U.S. naming law apply when choosing the family name after marriage?

Click here for more information.

When should I replace my U.S. passport if I wish to change my name after marriage?

To avoid issues with the German authorities and airline bookings, we recommend you change your passport as soon as possible.

If your passport was issued less than a year ago, you can exchange your passport free of charge. Follow these instructions.

If your passport was issued more than a year ago, then you need to apply for a passport renewal and pay the appropriate fee.

You will need to document your name change with an original or certified copy of your marriage certificate and also submit a copy of the document thereof. Your original name change document will be returned to you with your new passport.

Who should I contact if I work for the U.S. military in Germany and want to get married? 

Contact your legal office to obtain your statement of being single or history of marriage.