Wondering if your marriage outside the U.S. is valid?

Here are some basics to keep in mind.

We know: All About Getting Married Abroad

If I marry outside the U.S., of what country am I a citizen, and do I lose my U.S. citizenship?

In some countries, marriage to a national of that country will automatically make the spouse either a citizen of that country or eligible to become naturalized in that country expeditiously. The automatic acquisition of a second nationality will not affect U.S. citizenship.

However, naturalization in a foreign country on one's own application or the application of a duly authorized agent may cause the loss of American citizenship. Persons planning to apply for a foreign nationality should contact an American embassy or consulate for further information.

If I get married aboard, who does it? Can I do it in an American embassy?

Marriages abroad are almost always performed by local (foreign) civil or religious officials. The validity of marriages abroad is not dependent upon the presence of an American diplomatic or consular officer, but upon adherence to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed.

American diplomatic and consular officers are NOT permitted to perform marriages. As a rule, marriages are not performed on the premises of an American embassy or consulate. Consular officers may authenticate foreign marriage documents.

Is a marriage performed aboard, valid in the U.S.?

In general, marriages which are legally performed and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Inquiries regarding the validity of a marriage abroad should be directed to the attorney general of the state in the United States where the parties to the marriage live.

How do I find out about getting married in another country?

The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country in which the marriage is to be performed is the best source of information about marriage in that country. Some general information on marriage in a limited number of countries can be obtained from Overseas Citizens Services, Room 4811, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520. In addition, American embassies and consulates abroad frequently have information about marriage in the country in which they are located.

Do other countries have residency requirements before getting married?

Marriages abroad are subject to the residency requirements of the country in which the marriage is to be performed. There is almost always a lengthy waiting period.

What documents may be required if I want to get married abroad?

Most countries require that a valid U.S. passport be presented. In addition, birth certificates, divorce decrees, and death certificates are frequently required. Some countries require that the documents presented to the marriage registrar first be authenticated in the United States by a consular official of that country. This process can be time consuming and expensive.

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