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Getting married

There are rules and procedures you must follow in order to marry in Ireland. There are also rules and procedures if you are an Irish citizen and choose to marry abroad.

Requirements for marriage

If you are an Irish citizen normally resident in Ireland, you must be at least 18 years old to get married. There are some exceptions to this:

If either party is under 18 (and doesn’t have a Court Exemption Order) the marriage will not be recognised under Irish law. There is no longer any requirement for parental consent to a marriage, irrespective of the ages of the parties concerned.

Unless you are very young, you will probably not be asked to provide proof of your age. However, if requested to do so, you must provide evidence of age (for example, a Birth Certificate). If you don’t, then the Registrar or other relevant official will refuse to proceed with the marriage. If the marriage does go ahead despite the fact that one or both parties are underage, it will be void in law. A Registrar or other person solemnising the marriage who knowingly breaches these age requirements is liable, if convicted, to a fine of up to 635 euro.

Court Exemption Order

In certain special circumstances, you may be able to get a Court Exemption Order allowing the marriage to proceed even if one or both parties are under 18. The court will require you to show:

  • that there are good reasons for your application
  • that the granting of such an Exemption Order is in the best interests of the parties to the intended marriage.

Essentially, the age rule is the same, irrespective of whether or not you get married in a religious or civil ceremony. In addition, you must have the capacity to marry. That is, you must freely consent to the marriage and have the capacity to understand what marriage means. Read more about legal requirements for marriage in Ireland here.

Notification requirements for marriage

Since 5 November 2007 anyone marrying in the Republic of Ireland (irrespective of whether they are an Irish citizen or a foreign national) must give three months notification before they marry. You must make this notification in person to any Registrar.

When you make the appointment with the Registrar you will be informed what information and documents you need to bring with you. Generally, you and your intended spouse will be required to bring the following:

  • Passports or driving licences as identification.
  • Original final divorce decree if either of you is divorced. Further information will be required if it was a foreign divorce and you will require an approved English translation of the divorce decree.
  • Deceased spouse’s death certificate and previous civil marriage certificate if either of you is widowed.
  • PPS Numbers

You will also have to provide information about the intended marriage such as:

  • Whether it will be a civil or religious ceremony
  • The intended date and location of the marriage
  • Details of the proposed solemniser of the marriage
  • The names and dates of birth of the two proposed witnesses

You will also have to pay a notification fee of €150. When you attend the Registrar you will have to make a declaration of no impediment. The Registrar will issue an acknowlegement to both of you and the proposed solemniser of the marriage confirming the date of receipt of notification. This does not give you permission to marry. If all the information required has been supplied and there is no impediment to the marriage, the Registrar will issue you with a Marriage Registration Form.

Different ways of getting married

There are different legal ways of getting married in Ireland; you may choose a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony.

Religious ceremony

If you are intend getting married by church or religious ceremony, you should approach the authorities of the religious denomination concerned for advice on how to proceed. You will be told what requirements that religious body has in order to get married under their rites.

While a religious marriage ceremony can be performed according to the customs and rites of the religious body, there are certain requirements that must be met in order for the marriage to be legal:

  • the person solemnising must be on the Register of Solemnisers which is maintained by the General Registrar. It lists civil registrars and members of other religious bodies nominated as solemnisers
  • the ceremony must be performed in the presence of two witnesses aged 18 or over.

While the marriage ceremony can be performed according to the customs and rites of the religious body, as part of the ceremony you and your intended spouse must make two declarations:

  • That you do not know of any impediment to the marriage
  • That you accept each other as husband and wife

The venue for the ceremony is a matter for the religious body. According to the legislation the place where the solemnisation takes place must be open to the public. This means that access to the venue for the general public must be unrestricted.

Civil ceremony

If you are getting married by civil ceremony in a Registry Office or other approved place, you should approach the Registrar of Civil Marriages for the district in which you intend to marry for information on how to proceed. There is no requirement to live in the district where you want to get married. There is also a requirement to give 3 months notification to a Registrar.

A civil ceremony can be held in a Registry Office or some other venue that is approved by a Registrar. A Registrar will also have to be available to solemnise the marriage. If you want to get married in a venue other than the Registry Office you should contact the Registry Office for the district the venue is located in to arrange to have it approved. This may involve the Registrar inspecting the venue. Venues such as marquees, private dwellings or the open air are not acceptable. Remember that there is an additional fee for a civil ceremony held in a different venue than a Registry Office.

The marriage ceremony is solemnised by the Registrar, who is on the Register of Solemnisers. The ceremony must be performed in the presence of two witnesses aged 18 or over. During the ceremony you and your intended spouse must make two declarations:

  • That you do not know of any impediment to the marriage
  • That you accept each other as husband and wife

Since 5 November 2007, no matter how you marry (i.e., through a civil or religious ceremony), the registration process is the same. (There are transitional arrangements for those who have notified the Registrar before 5 November 2007.) You are issued with a Marriage Registration Form (MRF) by the Registrar, following notification, which gives you authorisation to get married. You give it to whomever will be solemnising your marriage. Following the marriage ceremony, the completed MRF should be given to a Registrar, within one month of the marriage ceremony, for the marriage to be registered.

Getting married outside of Ireland

If you are an Irish citizen and are planning to marry abroad, be aware that the legal validity of your marriage is governed, in part, by the laws of the country in which you marry. In most, if not all cases, the legal formalities abroad are very different to those in Ireland.

Make sure to meet all legal requirements of the country you are marrying in. Marriages that take place outside the state are not normally registered in Ireland, except in very specific circumstances laid down in Section 2 of the Marriages Act, 1972. This meant only marriages consisting solely of a religious ceremony, conducted in the département of Hautes Pyrénées, France before 1973 between couples where both or either partner was an Irish citizen on the day of the marriage had to be registered in Ireland. All other marriages that take place abroad do not need to be registered in Ireland.

Although you must meet the foreign requirements for formalities, you are still bound by Irish law as far as the capacity to marry is concerned. For example, your marriage abroad will not be recognised under Irish law if one or both of you was ordinarily resident in Ireland and one or both of you was under 18 at the time of the marriage and did not have a Court Exemption Order.

You may require a Certificate of Freedom to Marry to get married in some foreign countries: to apply for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry, Irish citizens living abroad should contact their nearest Irish embassy or the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Irish citizens living in Ireland should apply to the Consular Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs. If you are getting married in Italy for example, your Certificate of Freedom to Marry will be sent by the Department to the Irish embassy in Rome who will then forward it to the district where you will be married. In most other cases, the Certificate of Freedom to Marry will be issued by the Department and sent directly to you.

If you want a copy of your foreign marriage certificate, you should contact the embassy for the country concerned or the relevant religious authority.

Where To Apply
Department of Foreign Affairs

Dept: Consular Section
69-71 St. Stephen’s Green
County: Dublin 2
Ireland
Tel: +353 1 408 2308/2585/2302
Homepage: www.dfa.ie

For a Certificate of Freedom to Marry Abroad contact the Consular Section at (01) 408 2568

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