Getting Married in Italy - What you need - the civil side

In my last post, I talked about what you need for a Catholic church wedding in Italy, now, it's time to talk about the civil side of things. Here's our story...

We started looking into the civil side of things about a year before their proposed marriage date. The wedding is to be between a British guy and an Italian girl, and will take place in her hometown. Her side of things were all automatically taken care of (including the comune rustling up a Certificato di stato libero in 5 minutes, forgetting the whole 21 days notice thing...), however, the other side would be quite a different story.

Six months before the proposed wedding date, we asked the comune what we would need from the straniero to allow the marriage to be valid. The comune simply said to bring 'whatever you would normally have in your country'. So, off we went to get a 'Certificate of No-lawful Impediment' (CNI) from the local council registry office in the UK. So far, so good. Great.

However, after calling the comune to check a few times exactly what was needed, it transpired that the CNI would have to be translated (OK, no problem) and legalized. This posed a problem as we weren't sure exactly what that meant: translated by a professional translation service? Translated in front of a solicitor? Getting some stamp or apostille from the government? No one could help. No one (including the comune) seemed to know the answer and there seemed to be a real disconnect and 'lost in translation' moment.

So we phoned the Italian Embassy in London. They were closed. OK, call back. They don't know what you need as a UK citizen to get married in Italy, but suggest calling the Stato Civile in Italy. OK, fair enough, why would they know? We call the stato civile who also don't seem to work that much, or at least answer the phone. The stato civile don't know but promised to find out and get back to us.

In the meantime, we called the British Embassy in Rome. They suggested that we need a nulla osta also for the Brit, and that this basically consists of the CNI plus birth details. At the same time, the comune got back to say that a CNI is probably fine, and that maybe, yes, with a birth certificate translated as well, it would be better, but they're not quite sure. OK, so what do we do? Translate two documents into Italian, somehow legalize them, and then hope that this is enough? (this would have cost about £150) Or do something else? Also, why does no one seem to know what documents you need to get married in Italy!

This was all compounded by the fact that time was running out. We were scheduled to go to Italy to sign the 'compromesso', which is like a pre-wedding contract and is a legally binding document, about 2 months before the wedding. A week before this point, we had only just found out that the CNI was probably not enough. These were stressful times.

In the end however, we simply sent everything off to the British Embassy in Rome and amazingly, after a fair amount of phone calls and pleading, they processed everything, translated it all into Italian, and produced a nulla osta in 3 days flat, all for about 82EUR.


So what do you need for a nulla osta (as of August 2010):

- Original, long birth certificate, showing both your parents names
- Photocopies of both your passport, and of the passport of the person you want to marry
- The Certificate of No-lawful Impediment from your local council (this takes 21 days and costs about £35).
- The original 'Certificato di stato libero' from the Italian side (a photocopy will not work)
- Any documents relating to previous marriages or name changes

The British Embassy has a great page of information about all this here.

I would suggest anyone who wants to get married in Italy (and who isn't Italian) to immediately contact their Embassy in Italy to get them to sort everything out. It's unfair to ask the local comune to know what documents a foreigner needs to get married there, and it's unfair to ask the Italian Embassy in another country to know either.

So, with a nulla osta for the foreigner and the Certificato di stato libero for the Italian, we finally had all we needed to sign the compromesso and go ahead with the wedding :-)

Oh, and if you're wondering, the Stato civile did get back to us and said that a CNI was all you needed (which is wrong).

So, as with the church side, I would recommend starting the whole process as early as possible, and also getting the local embassy involved from the start.

Good luck!


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