Getting Married: Making it Legal

How to officially get married in the Czech Republic

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the Czech Republic as a documented worker or resident, you are all-too familiar with the hallowed halls of bureaucracy. It should come as no surprise, then, that in order to get married in the Czech lands, you’ll need to do a little legal legwork. And just as with the obtaining of visas, work permits, and other official licenses, the burden can be eased by hiring someone to wait in all those lines for you. Prague’s wedding agencies regularly perform this function and most include paperwork help and translation of documents as part of their wedding-planning fee. That said, if you or your partner speak Czech, it’s entirely possible to petition for a marriage license on your own. Here, a guide to the ins and outs of the system and how to ensure that those all-important steps you take toward making it official are as painless as possible!

First things first
Just like any wedding, anywhere in the world, the first step you should take toward planning is deciding on a date. Because it may be necessary to obtain certain documents from your home country, you should build in plenty of time before the wedding to accommodate any emergency trips home and plan for unexpected surprises. In some cases, the paperwork can take up to six months to process, but the usual time involved is approximately one to two months. It’s also worth noting that a number of the documents necessary for filing the marriage application have a limited validity. And you should take into consideration the fact that if you plan to marry in a high-profile location you may need to book the venue up to a year in advance. Sketching out a time-line and keeping on top of the various deadlines can be an essential part of the process.

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Church or civil wedding?
You’ll also need to determine whether you’ll be having a civil or religious ceremony, as the documents needed for each type of marriage will differ. For civil marriages, you’ll take your documents to the Office of Vital Records (matrika) in the Municipal Office (místní úřad), under whose jurisdiction the venue for your ceremony falls. For church ceremonies, go directly to the officiating church authority. For Catholic ceremonies, at least one of the parties must be Catholic. Such weddings also require all the papers used in regular Catholic weddings: baptism certificates, a letter from the bride and/or groom’s parish priest, and a certificate proving completion of a marriage-preparation course. Some Protestant denominations also require a baptism certificate. Jewish ceremonies involve additional religious papers from home, of which the bride and/or groom can receive information from their local rabbinate.

Documents you’ll need
Whether you are a non-EU citizen marrying a Czech national, an EU citizen marrying a Czech national or two non-Czech persons marrying one another, you will need the form “A Questionnaire for Entering into Marriage”, available to download via the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic website, The Protocol on Contracting the Marriage form, to be filled in by the appropriate registrar together with you and your fiance or just one of you, as well as the documents listed below. These documents guarantee that a marriage entered into in the Czech Republic will be lawfully recognized by your native country. The papers must be translated into Czech by a legal translator before registration for the wedding can take place. Registration takes approximately one month.

-A birth certificate.
-A document, your passport suffices, that proves your nationality and identity.
-A Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage certifying your capacity to marry and certifying that no legal impediment exists. Depending on your nationality you may be able to make a sworn statement at your country’s embassy. For American citizens, you may do so at the U.S. Embassy for a fee of $50. This document may not be older than six months at the time of your marriage.
-If the bride or the groom has been widowed, the death certificate of the deceased spouse, or a notarized copy of this certificate, must be presented.
-If the bride or the groom is divorced, the divorce certificate, or a notarized copy, must be presented.
-Any necessary religious documents.
-For non-EU citizens who plan to reside in the Czech Republic, a certificate issued, no longer than seven days prior to the marriage by the Czech Foreign Police, that you may legally stay in the Czech Republic.

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All documents mentioned above issued in the country of your origin must be legalized by a governmental stamp called an apostille that certifies documents of origin for use in the Czech Republic. Note that if you were born in the U.S. and have previously used a birth certificate issued by the county you were born for a visa application, etc. you will actually need the birth certificate issued by the state you were born in. And of course, documentation will vary by nationality.

Fees to be paid
Fees for the translation of documents vary depending on the desired turnaround, but you can expect to pay in total around 400-500 CZK/page. Should you opt for a wedding agency to help you navigate the Czech legalese, the fees are generally included in the flat rate you’ll be paying. If, however, you’re going it alone, note that for Czech-to-foreign-national marriages, a fee of 2,000 CZK is required to process the paperwork. In the case of two expats tying the knot, the fee is 3,000 CZK. While you are registering at the matrika it will also be determined if your level of Czech is suitable for a civil ceremony that will be conducted by a Czech magistrate in Czech. The responsibility for hiring an interpreter falls to you. Interpreters cost around 1,800 CZK, or up to 2,500 CZK on the weekends, transportation to the venue not included.

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After the wedding
Shortly following the ceremony, a marriage certificate will be mailed to you. Foreigners must report the change in their marital status to the appropriate consular department of their home country’s embassy in the Czech Republic. Women who change their surname must apply for new personal documents upon presenting the officially translated marriage certificate to the consular department of her home state’s Embassy. At some point during the marriage registration process you will be asked to declare your intended surname (i.e. If you will both keep your original surnames, hyphenate, etc.) as well as the surname of any future children. A non-Czech woman is not required to apply the “ova” suffix to her name. Non-EU citizens married to Czech nationals are now eligible for an “EU Family Member” card. For more information about obtaining citizenship or permanent residency after marriage see The Ministry of the Interior’s site here.

Helpful resources:
The U.S. Embassy’s marriage-related pages:
http://prague.usembassy.gov/getting_married_in_the_czech_republic.html

Official EU page for marriage, same-sex marriage, and civil unions:
http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/family/couple/marriage/index_en.htm

The Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic marriage-related pages:
http://www.mvcr.cz/mvcren/article/marriage-between-czech-nationals-and-foreign-nationals-in-the-czech-republic.aspx

Home in the Czech Republic marriage-related pages:
http://www.en.domavcr.cz/advices-for-living-in-the-czech-republic/family/marriage-and-wedding


Lead photo by Whitelight


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