Marriage preparation for Switzerland

Between a Swiss National and a UK/Foreign National

The following procedure applies in connection with a marriage to be celebrated in Switzerland between a British or Foreign national and a Swiss national.

The future bridegroom and bride have to submit an application for preparation of marriage (available from Swiss missions) at the Registry Office in the place of residence in Switzerland. If they are not resident in Switzerland, the application has to be filed with the Registry Office where it is intended that the marriage shall take place. An engaged couple living abroad can also file the application with the Swiss embassy or consulate competent for their place of residence.

Besides the application form, the future bridegroom and bride have to sign a special declaration concerning the conditions for the marriage; they declare that they meet the requirements for the marriage, and that the documents presented are up to date, complete and true. This declaration has to be signed personally either at the competent Swiss embassy or consulate or before the Registrar in Switzerland. By signing the documents the bride and bridegroom confirm that they understand their contents. They also confirm that they are aware of the penal consequences in case of false declarations under Articles 65 and 69 3 of the Civil Status Ordinance. Translations of the documents to be signed can be viewed online on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice.

Further documents

The following documents have to be presented with the application for preparation of marriage:

Foreign national

  • a full-size birth certificate issued not more than six months before the application for marriage is made (can be obtained from the local Registrar or from the General Register Office)
  • original passport including residence permit if applicable
  • for British nationals: a certificate of no impediment to marriage issued by the local Superintendent Registrar. The document must bear the Apostille of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
    Legalisation Office
    For other nationals: if a certificate of no impediment cannot be provided, please submit a statutory declaration concerning marital status, nationality and domicile, signed in the presence of a notary public or a solicitor. This document must also bear the Apostille of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • if the foreign national is divorced or widowed an official copy of the decree absolute or a death certificate for the deceased spouse
  • a Deed Poll of change of name (with Apostille) if applicable
  • full-size birth certificate of children which the couple have had together as well as their original passports
  • additional documents may be required. Please contact the Civil Registry Office in Switzerland

Swiss national

  • certificate of residence issued by the local authorities; if the person is registered with a Swiss mission, a certificate of registration will be issued by that mission (a fee of £33.50 is payable)
  • original Swiss passport or identity card
  • in some cases a certificate of marital status issued by the place of origin (can be obtained through the Embassy in ca. 4-6 weeks for a fee, or directly from the place of origin in Switzerland) must be submitted.

Photocopies of the above-mentioned documents cannot be accepted. The original documents of civil status will not be returned.

If the application for the marriage is filed with a Swiss Representation, all documents are forwarded by that office to the competent authorities in Switzerland. If all requirements for the marriage are met, the Registry Office issues the authorisation for the marriage.

The marriage can take place 10 days at the earliest and 3 months at the latest after the authorisation is issued.

Should any documents of civil status have been issued outside the United Kingdom, please contact the Regional Consular Centre prior to submitting the documents in order to confirm the correct papers to be provided. Documents of civil status issued in a different country must be legalized by the competent Swiss Embassy or Consulate. In some cases, the legalization will be subject to a fee and can take several weeks.

It is strongly recommended that applications for marriage preparation are submitted to the Regional Consular Centre at least three months before the marriage is to take place. If some of the documents of civil status have been issued outside the UK, please note that these will first need to be translated/legalized by the competent Swiss Embassy or Consulate and that the process can take several weeks.

Name after marriage

Please contact the relevant Swiss mission if you would like to know the different possibilities with regard to surnames. If applicable, the necessary declarations are available.

Marriage ceremony

The marriage is performed publicly by the Civil Registrar in the town hall in the presence of two adult witnesses. A religious marriage ceremony is optional and may take place only after the civil marriage. Please note that the Regional Consular Centre is unable to give information on religious marriages.

Fees

The Regional Consular Centre charges a fee of approximately £220.00 for filing the application for marriage. The fee can only be paid in cash or by cheque.

Depending on the documents presented, additional costs may arise.

If, after the marriage, the couple take up residence in the United Kingdom, the Swiss partner should register with the Regional Consular Centre in London.

Applications for marriage preparation must be submitted during the opening hours of the Regional Consular Centre, from Monday to Friday between 09.00am-12.00noon.

Please note that all documents of civil status (birth, marriage, divorce, death, certificate of no impediment/statutory declaration) must be newly issued. Documents older than 6 months will not be accepted.

Between two Foreign Nationals

The following procedure applies in connection with a marriage to be celebrated in Switzerland between two foreign nationals without residence in Switzerland.

The authorities of the canton in which a foreign bride and bridegroom intend to get married have discretion as to whether to authorise a marriage between two foreigners without residence in Switzerland. The authorities might require a document providing proof of the capacity to marry and/or proof of the recognition of the marriage by the parties' home country.

The following general information may be helpful regarding the procedure for marriage in Switzerland.

Capacity to marry:

  1. the couple must be over 18
  2. neither must be already married
  3. persons subject to guardianship orders must obtain the consent of their legal representative
  4. the law prohibits marriage between (half-)brothers or (half-)sisters, between a person and his or her parent (natural or adoptive) or grandparents

Procedure

The future bridegroom and bride have to submit an application for preparation of marriage at the Registry Office in the place where it is intended that the marriage shall take place.

An engaged couple living abroad can file the application with the Swiss Representation of their place of residence. Besides the application form, the future bridegroom and bride have to sign a special declaration concerning the conditions for the marriage; they declare that they meet the requirements for the marriage, and that the documents presented are up to date, complete and true. This declaration has to be signed personally either at the competent Swiss Representation or before the Registrar in Switzerland. By signing the documents the bride and bridegroom confirm that they understand their contents. They also confirm that they are aware of the penal consequences in case of false declarations under Articles 65 and 69 3 of the Civil Status Ordinance. Translations of the documents to be signed can be viewed online on the website of the Swiss Federal Office of Justice.

Further documents

The following documents have to be presented with the application for preparation of marriage:

  • a full-size birth certificate of each party issued not more than six months before the application for marriage is made;
  • original passports, including residence permit if applicable;
  • for British nationals: a certificate of no impediment to marriage issued by the local Superintendent Registrar. The document must bear the Apostille of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Legalization Office (visit: http://www.fco.gov.uk -> Legalisation). For other nationals: if a certificate of no impediment cannot be provided, please submit a statutory declaration concerning marital status, nationality and domicile, signed in the presence of a notary public or a solicitor. This document must also bear the Apostille of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office;
  • an official copy of the decree absolute or a death certificate for the deceased spouse if one or both of the parties is divorced or widowed;
  • a Deed Poll of change of name (with Apostille) if applicable;
  • full-size birth certificate of children which the couple have had together including their original passports as well as a document confirming their address;
  • additional documents may be required. Please contact the Civil Registry Office in Switzerland.

Photocopies of the above-mentioned documents cannot be accepted. The original documents of civil status will not be returned.

If the application for the marriage is filed with a Swiss Representation, all documents are forwarded by that office to the competent authorities in Switzerland. If all requirements for the marriage are met, the Registry Office issues the authorisation for the marriage.

The marriage can take place at the latest three months after the authorisation is issued.

Should any documents of civil status have been issued outside the United Kingdom, please contact the Regional Consular Centre prior to submitting the documents in order to confirm the correct papers to be provided. Documents of civil status issued in a different country must be legalized by the competent Swiss Embassy or Consulate. In some cases, the legalization will be subject to a fee and can take several weeks.

It is strongly recommended that applications for marriage preparation are submitted to the Regional Consular Centre at least three months before the marriage is to take place. If some of the documents of civil status have been issued outside the UK, please note that these will first need to be translated/legalized by the competent Swiss Embassy or Consulate and that the process can take several weeks.

Marriage ceremony

The marriage is performed publicly by the Civil Registrar in the town hall in the presence of two adult witnesses. A religious marriage ceremony is optional and may take place only after the civil marriage. Please note that the Regional Consular Centre is unable to give information on religious marriages.

Fees

If the application for marriage is filed with the Regional Consular Centre, a fee of approx. £200.00 has to be paid in cash. The fee can only be paid in cash.

The fees and charges of the Civil Registrar and the cantonal authorities for the preparation of the marriage and the marriage ceremony may vary and can be quite high.

Foreign nationals are advised to consult their Embassy or Consulate in Switzerland after the ceremony if they wish the marriage to be registered in their home country.

Applications for marriage preparation must be submitted during the opening hours of the Regional Consular Centre, from Monday to Friday between 09.00am-12.00noon.

Please note that all documents of civil status (birth, marriage, divorce, death, certificate of no impediment/statutory declaration) must be newly issued. Documents older than 6 months will not be accepted.

Marriages in Canton Vaud / Place of origin in Canton Vaud

Important information:

Please note that if the marriage or the civil partnership are to take place in Canton Vaud and/or if the place of origin of a Swiss national is in the Canton Vaud, all documents of civil status (birth, marriage, death certificates or divorce decrees) will have to bear an Apostille from the Legalization Office at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Documents submitted without an Apostille will not be accepted.