Italian wedding ceremonies with civil validity are typically celebrated in town halls. Every Italian city, town or village has a town hall. In certain cases the city hall authorises external venues to celebrate legally binding civil weddings, in which case Italian castles, villas and rustic Italian wedding venues become great alternative venues for a civil wedding in Italy.
Whether in a town hall or in another venue, civil ceremonies in Italy are officiated by an Italian Mayor or representative in Italian and translated by an interpreter in English or in another language native to the couple. The ceremony lasts about twenty minutes and mainly consists of the reading of articles of the Italian civil code.
A civil Italian wedding ceremony can be personalized with individually written vows, readings and music. Most ceremonies are requested to last no longer than 30 minutes. To make the ceremony legally binding, the bride and groom must have one witness each. If you are eloping, then this is something to consider.
The cost of the civil ceremony depends on the town hall as fees may vary. On top of the city hall fee or the fee for the Italian authority to celebrate a wedding in another venue, the couple will need to pay for the paperwork in their native country and in Italy.
Broadly speaking there are 6 key steps to follow before you can be civilly married in Italy. From start-to-finish, you should allow for up to 4 months to complete all paperwork. Please note, depending on your country of residence, there will be some variations to these steps:
- Certificate of No-Impediment (CNI), or equivalent – one per person
- Statutory Declaration (if applicable) – one per person
- Legalisation of above documents in your country of residence
- Translation of above documents in Italy
- Translated documents along with copy of the couples passports and witness passports, sent to town hall
- 1 or 2 days before ceremony, couple visits town hall for a declaration of intent
Certificate of No-Impediment (CNI)
A Certificate of No-Impediment, also known as a CNI, is a document that states that there are no known impediments for you to marry, in other words, you are free to marry.
For example, a divorced female is not permitted to enter into marriage until 300 days have lapsed on issue of the Decree Absolute. A special dispensation can be made to the Italian court (Tribunale) which may be granted in certain circumstances. This situation does not apply to divorced males, men can be married the next day.
Certificates of No-Impediment are valid for 6 months from the date of issue (4 months in Ireland). You and your partner will require one CNI each. Typically, a CNI can take up to 30 days to issue, so this should be factored into your planning.
Statutory Declaration (if applicable)
While you are waiting for your CNI you can complete the Statutory Declaration document. A Statutory Declaration is a written statement of fact, which is a bilingual document easily obtained online, which should be completed in front of a Notary or Solicitor. You may be asked to take along supporting documents, birth certificates, divorce certificates, name change and proof of address.
Legalisation of above documents in your country of residence
Once the CNI’s and your Statutory Declaration are complete, these will need to be legalised. For certain nationalities the CNI is automatically legalised by the embassy on release. However, in countries like the UK, this, together with the Statutory Declaration will need to be legalised by the FCO.
Translation of Documents in Italy
Some embassy’s release documents in a plurilingual version which is automatically recognised by the town halls, Germany for example. Others such as the Irish embassy legalise and translate the documents and send them directly to the town hall. In most cases couples need to get documents translated by an Italian court (Tribunale), before sending them to the town hall.
Please note, depending on your nationality the Town Hall may require additional documentation. This should be checked at the time of booking the wedding.
Declaration of Intent
The couple must present themselves in person at the town hall 1 or 2 days before the ceremony, depending on the town hall itself. If the couple does not speak Italian, they must be accompanied by a translator. The same translator must translate the ceremony the day after. In this case a copy of the translator’s passport must be provided to the town hall, prior to the declaration.
At this meeting, a couple signs a document to confirm they are who they say they are, as-well-as, confirming a number of standard legislative requirements, i.e. the couple is not blood related etc.
Please note the above steps are only a guideline of the process to be civilly married in Italy. For the exact process, you need to follow, you should always check with the town hall in Italy and your embassy/consulate/registrar office. Individuals not living in their country of birth are advised to contact their embassy or consulate.