Legal requirements for a legally binding wedding ceremony in Italy.

We have always appreciated that US citizens love so much to visit and experience our country.

The end of the 2ndworld war followed up a grand alliance between these two so different Nations.

Many Italians, after the war, migrated in the US, looking for new chances and hoping for a new life. And, many Americans want to be at least one time in Rome once they see the movie “La Dolce vita” or “Vacanze Romane.”

Picture of Giorgio Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in the movie "La dolce vita".

The reasons why many North American couples dream of getting married in Italy are many: history, beauty, and diversity of landscapes, charming traditions, culinary art, fashion design, happiness, good climate, security etc.

Typical Italian focaccia with basil and tomatoes and mozzarella on top.
Vineyards in San Gimignano, Tuscany

But today, we want to focus and help the readers to understand which are the right steps to get legally married in Italy obtaining legal effects in the US territory.

A specific bilateral agreement is in force between the USA and Italy regarding the marriage of US citizens in Italy: this is the Exchange of notes made in Rome on 8/18/1964 (from Italy, ratified with Legge: 13/10 / 1965, No. 1195).

Bilateral agreement between Italy and USA about wedding rules in Italy for American citizens.

The agreement was stipulated to “resolve” the question of the fact that in the USA, there were no competent authorities to issue the declaration required by art. 116, 1 (Italian) Civil Code (Codice Civile).

Let’s see point by point what the current legislation requires to get legally married in Italy for a US citizen obtaining legal effects in the territory of the United States.

If your question is “Can an American get married in Italy“, well the answer is yes!

So take into consideration what you will need to complete the full procedure as described below.

1) Check thevalidity U.S. passport;

2) Obtain your birth certificate (original or certified copy);

3) Evidence of the termination of previous marriage if applicable (e.g., final divorce decree, annulment decree, or death certificate of former spouse).

Women whose previous marriage terminated within the last 300 days must obtain a waiver from the Italian District Attorney’s Office (the so called Italian “Procura della Repubblica” of the competent Court in the town where the new marriage will be celebrated.

The waiver is issued upon presentation of medical evidence that you are not pregnant.

Your wedding planner will help you to start this procedure with local authorities.

4) The Affidavit or “Dichiarazione Giurata” needs to be sworn by you before an American consular officer commissioned in Italy.

You will have to state that there are no legal impediments to your marriage, according to the legislation of the Country in the US which you have residency.

Once the “Dichiarazione Giurata” has been issued  your assigned wedding planner in Italy will need to bring it to the Legalization Office of the local Prefettura to legalize it.

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American embassy in Rome

5) Atto Notorio is a declaration, to obtain in addition to the “Dichiarazione Giurata,” that states that according to the laws to which you are subject in the USA, there are no impediments to your marriage in Italy.

To swear this declaration, you will need two witnesses, and it will be sworn before an Italian consul outside Italy (in the USA if you are there) or, in Italy, in a Court (Tribunale ordinario).

If you are coming to Italy for your marriage, it would be advisable to get this declaration at the nearest Italian Embassy or Consulate before leaving the United States, as some Courts in Italy may have long waiting lists for this kind of service.

If you decide to request the Atto Notorio in Italy, you should contact the Notary Services Office (Ufficio Atti Notori) of competent Italian Court (Tribunale Ordinario) and set an appointment in advance (we don’t advise you to follow this path as it’s known that Italian justice system is pretty slow).

If the spouses or even only one of the witnesses do not speak Italian, the presence of an interpreter will be required.

The couple, as well as the witnesses and the interpreters, must show proof of their legal presence in Italy by presenting, for example, a plane ticket, visa, or permit to stay (so-called permesso di soggiorno).

Italian Embassy

 5) Declaration of Intention to Marry. You should present all the documents mentioned above to the competent Marriage Office of the town hall of the city where you planned to get married, where (most of the time, but not always) you will have to make a “Declaration of Intention to Marry” in front of a civil officer.

If you do not speak Italian, a professional interpreter may assist you in this phase.

When all this is done, you can finally set the date of your wedding according to the town hall availability.

court wedding in Italy

Civil Ceremony: A civil ceremony will be performed by the mayor or by one of his deputies. Two witnesses and, if necessary, an interpreter must be present at the ceremony.

Witnesses may be of any nationality, but must be over 18 and possess valid photo identification.

A witness cannot serve as an interpreter.  You will also have to pay a rental fee for the marriage hall, and it varies according to the town hall regulations, the season, and the day of the week.

a civil wedding ceremony in Italy

Religious Catholic Ceremony: A religious catholic ceremony is considered valid if performed by a Roman Catholic priest.

A separate civil ceremony will not be necessary, as the priest will be obliged by law to register the marriage at the civil authorities.

The Roman Catholic Church requires baptismal (Battesimo) and confirmation certificates (Cresima) in addition to the documents listed above.

For full information, you should contact the parish of your area in the US or where you are resident.

For other kind of religious ceremony please send a specific inquiry to get assistance.


A newlywed couple among Vineyards in Tuscany.

For English-language marriages at the Vatican, also known as the Holy See, we can contact on your behalf the parish priest of Santa Susanna Church.

Weddings at the Vatican will be registered with the Vatican civil authorities, and marriage certificates are issued by the Civil Registry of Vatican City (Ufficio di Stato Civile, Anagrafe e Notariato, Governatorato, Citta del Vaticano) as the Vatican is a separate State from Italy.

The notarized “Dichiarazione Giurata” is required but does not need to be legalized by an Italian Prefettura office as for the Italian law.

Other religious wedding ceremony

In regards to religious ceremony performed by the non-Roman Catholic clergy in Italy, a civil legally binding ceremony needs to be completed before the religious one, to ensure the legality of the marriage.

Please note that in Italy, to give validity to all foreign documents such as birth certificates, divorce decree, etc. they must be legalized for use in Italy and must be translated into Italian.

In regards to the legalization of a U.S. document for its use in Italy, you will need to have it stamped with a so-called Apostille stamped by the secretary of state in the State where the document is issued by The “Hague Convention” on the legalization of foreign public documents.

Under Italian law, all public documents originating from outside the EU are considered valid for only six months from the date of issue.  Therefore, you should make sure that all documents to be submitted to Italian authorities have not been issued more than six months ahead of the date of the marriage.

In regards to the Validity in the USA of the Italian Marriage Certificate, consider that marriages that are legally valid in Italy are automatically valid in the U.S.A.

Therefore, an Italian marriage certificate can undoubtedly prove your marriage in the USA, and it is considered valid once legalized through the above-mentioned Apostille procedure performed in Italy.

The Apostille stamp can be requested in the Legalization Office of the Italian Prefettura, having jurisdiction over the area where you will get married.

Please note that you may need several days to complete all of the procedures; therefore, you should plan everything in time. The timing will vary depending on the number of marriages the town hall chosen by you have to perform,.

Long waiting lists are not uncommon, so you should evaluate with your destination wedding planner in Italy the timing and the perfect place where to get married in Italy accordingly to your desires.

View from the drone of the wedding reception in San Giusto Abbey.

Vineyard wedding venue in Arezzo, Tuscany.


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