Can an American legally married in Italy?

As destination wedding planner in Italy, we have always appreciated that US citizens love so much to visit and experience our country.

The end of the second world 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 wanted 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, diversity of landscapes, charming traditions, culinary art, fashion design, happiness, good climate, security etc.

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).

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). The so-called nulla osta.

So let’s see how an US citizen can get married in Italy!

You will need for sure the following documents:

1) Sworn declaration to be done before an American consular officer commissioned in Italy.

Please note that you will need to do this step here in Italy. There’s no way you can do this in the US event though you go through the procedure in an Italian Consulate/Embassy located in the US.

You will need to fulfill a form of the sworn declaration before you apply for the appointment in a US Consulate Office in Italy. 

Your wedding planner will provide the form to complete, and it must be signed only once you are before the consular officer.

 There are several consular office in Italy where you can swear the above mentioned declaration. Following a list of them:

  • Consular District of Milan
  • Consular District of Florence
  • Consular District of Rome
  • Consular District of Naples
  • Consular District of Palermo
  • Consular District of Venice
  • Consular District of Genoa

As your wedding planner in Italy we can advise you on the most available consular district in order to speed up your civil wedding in Italy as a US citizen.

The sworn declaration (by the Italian law it is considered as a nulla osta) will have to be legalized at the local Prefettura (please note that not all Prefettura can legalize the signature of the US consul).

Please also note that the majority of Prefettura offices are overbooked therefore you should evaluate with your wedding planner in Italy which is the emergency procedure to start in order to obtain the legalization even though the Prefettura is fully booked.

American embassy in Rome


Atto Notorio issued in the USA

You will need:

1) 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).

Any other documents may be required depending on the Italian Embassy inquired.

Atto Notorio Issued in Italy (suggested)

Please note that the speeder and more effortless procedure to obtain the Atto Notorio, is to request it in an Italian court in Italy with the presence of two witnesses.

You will simply state that there are no impediments to your wedding in Italy and no documents will be required!

The Atto Notorio is issued immediately. If you plan to start the procedure in Italy, we can assist you as your wedding planner in Italy. However, once you are in Italy your wedding planner will assist you as witness since relatives are not accepted.

Please also note the we know exactly which Courts in Italy are the fastest and most efficient, therefore, we will be happy to guide you along the whole process to get your atto notorio in Italy and speed up the whole procedure.

In conclusion with the Atto Notorio and your Legalized Sworn declaration you are ready to get married in Italy!

In case you are NOT RESIDING IN ITALY, you will have to meet the local town hall registrar two days (or hopefully one day) before the wedding day, with an interpreter, in order to sign a Declaration of Intention to Marry stating that there are no impediments of kinship and affinity (your witnesses will not need to be present at this stage).At this stage you won’t need any witness.

Instead, suppose one of the spouses is residing in Italy.

In that case, beyond the two documents mentioned above (sworn declaration legalized and atto notorio), you will have to apply for banns of Marriage at the local city hall where the foreigner spouse live, for 12 consecutive days before the Marriage occurs. 

At this point, the civil wedding ceremony can take place since everything has been done. 

Now that everything is ready a civil ceremony will be performed by the mayor or by one of his deputies at the town hall selected. Two witnesses and, if necessary, an interpreter must be present at the ceremony.

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 wedding 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 competent town hall.

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 Catholic weddings or if you are American who wants to get legally married in Italy you can contact us for a free first consultation.

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.

In conclusion please note that 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.

The same term of six month is applied to the atto notorio even though it has been issued in Italy.

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.

Your wedding planner in Italy can surely advise you on the best time to apply for a specific town hall in relation to your needs,

Vineyard wedding venue in Arezzo, Tuscany.