Are marriages solemnized online in the United States of America legally valid in Germany?
According to Art. 34 of the Civil Status Act – Personenstandsgesetz (PStG), if a German has concluded the marriage abroad, the marriage may be recorded in the marriage register upon request.
<<Hat ein Deutscher im Ausland die Ehe geschlossen, so kann die Eheschließung auf Antrag im Eheregister beurkundet warden;>>
Source: § 34 PStG – Einzelnorm (gesetze-im-internet.de)
In Germany, there is no general recognition of a foreign marriage. Every single authority has to check the case itself.
The basic rule is that a marriage entered into abroad will be recognized in Germany provided that all legal requirements relating to marriage of that foreign country have been fulfilled. In addition, the bride and the groom must meet all legal capacity requirements for marriage under the law of their home countries (for example, they must be single, must be in legal age and not closely related to one another).
Recognition of marriage certificate
It is recommended to process an Apostille for your marriage certificate before submitting your document to German authority in Germany. The apostille is an official document confirming the authenticity of the marriage certificate.
For further details, contact the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Los Angeles for information about apostille.
Registration of marriage in Germany – the procedure
German law does not require the registration of marriage done abroad of a German national with a German authority. However, you are considered officially married in Germany only after you register your marriage in Germany. The marriage may be registered upon request at the competent Registrar´s Office (“Standesamt”) in Germany.
- Where to register the marriage
The Registrar´s Office responsible for processing the application is the German national´s current or last place of residency in Germany.
List of Registrar´s Office (Standesamt) : Standesämter der Bundesrepublik Deutschland nach Bundesländern (service-standesamt.de)
To speed up the processing time, it is highly recommended that you contact the proper Registrar’s Office in Germany prior to submitting your application and check if you need to schedule an appointment to submit the requirements or do you need to send the request for registration of marriage by mail. This also includes inquiring about the possibility of sending the documents directly to the Registrar’s Office without involving the German Missions.
ATTENTION: The requirements and the process of submission of the documents can be different significantly depending on the individual Registrar´s Office.
If you would like to directly submit the application to the Registrar’s Office in Germany, please, send in one completed application form, including the documents mentioned below, as notarized copies or in original form. Copies may be notarized by the German Consular Mission or a Notary Public. For details, see information leaflet.
If you would like to submit your application through the German Consular Mission, please consult directly the German Consular Mission of the groom or bride´s place of residence and present two completed application forms as well as the documents mentioned below as notarized copies (plus one set of simple copies), or in the original (plus 2 sets of simple copies):
List of German Consular Mission: The German Missions Abroad – Federal Foreign Office (auswaertiges-amt.de)
List of requirements
- marriage certificate with apostille (issued by the “Registrar/Clerk of the Court”)
- passportsof the husband and wife
- birth certificatesof the husband and wife
- certificate of civil status before marriage of the husband and wife
- Registration from Germany of the German national (“Anmeldebescheinigung”)
- if applicable, German Naturalization Certificate or “Staatsangehörigkeitsausweis”
- if applicable, divorce decree or death certificate
- if applicable, deregistration from Germany of the German national (“Abmeldebescheinigung”)
NOTE: The Registrar’s Offices in Germany have the right to request apostilles and translations of all foreign documents. It is the decision of the competent Registrar’s Office whether the documents are accepted with or without an apostille and translation. To search for a certified translator, you can visit justiz-dolmetscher.de or bdue.de.
Fees for registration of your marriage in Germany
The fees for registration of marriage and the issuance of the marriage certificate(s) are set by each German Federal State and may be different in each city.
The Registrar’s Office will send you a payment request after it received your application.
In most cases, the following fees apply.
NOTE: This is for your guide only.
Registration of marriage
(regardless of the outcome of the processing)
Additional fees if foreign law is applied
Issuance of marriage certificate
Request for additional copy
Receiving the marriage certificate from Germany
The processing times depends on the Registrar’s Office in charge and varies significantly from city to city.
Update from May 2022
Immigration of the foreign spouse
The application of the foreign spouse to migrate to Germany can be partly accepted, and partly not. The marriage is concluded in Utah and is valid according to Utah Law, then as stated above, basic rules apply, the marriage contracted outside Germany which is valid under the law of the State where it took place, is recognized in Germany as a valid marriage.
However, it is in the decision of the Civil Registry Office in Germany if they will recognize or record your marriage in the Registry Office of Germany because the registrar’s office in Germany claims that the marriage was concluded in Germany and the place of residence of the partner (no spouse or representative in Utah) and therefore German law is applicable.
According to Art. 11 EGBGB
“(1) A legal act is formally valid if it satisfies the formal requirements of the law which is applicable to the legal relationship forming the subject matter of the legal act, or the law of the State in which the act is performed, are observed.
(2) If a contract is concluded between persons who are in different countries, it shall be formally valid if it observes the formal requirements of the law which is applicable to the legal relationship forming the subject matter of the contract, or of the law of one of these countries”
It may be invalid in some registrar’s offices in Germany because the marriage was not concluded in Utah, but in the countries in which the spouses gave their declaration. For a marriage concluded in Germany, Art. 13 IV EGBGB must be observed:
(4) A marriage within the country may only be celebrated subject to the form provided for here. A marriage between two persons engaged to be married, neither of whom is a German national, may however be celebrated before a person properly authorized by the government of the State of which one of the persons engaged to be married is a national, according to the formalities prescribed by the law of that State;
Visa application for migration to Germany of the foreign spouse may or may not be accepted based on the decision of the Migration Office in Germany. Then, the recognition of marriage is according to the decision of the Civil Registry Office in Germany.
While we guarantee that online marriage is legal according to the laws in the US, it is not certain that the court of law and Immigration Services of your home country will recognize such union as valid. They may require further verification and additional documents if deemed necessary.
Disclaimer: This article is general in nature and it is not intended to be relied on as legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the subject in this article.