The Italian citizenship by descent and getting married in Italy.

What if you have the right to the Italian citizenship by descent and you don’t know it? It happens to me quite often when a foreigner with Italian sounding name contacts me. My first question is – do you have Italian ancestors? The answer in many cases is: Yes. Italian grandparents, Italian parents. And this heritage gives you a special right.

Italian citizenship by descent. Born in a foreign land, the spouses aren’t often aware of this important fact. They have the right to the Italian citizenship by descent. In this situation there are two possible roads to take. You either forget it or you start the procedure to acquire your Italian citizenship.

What are the advantages of having an Italian citizenship? It is not only about the rights of an Italian citizen. Italy is a member of the European Union. As an Italian you automatically have all the priviledges reserved for EU citizens. It means free movement, free settlement and free employment. It may be especially interesting for the British citizens. As a Brit with Italian citizenship you will regain all the opportunities lost with Brexit.

How to get the Italian citizenship by descent? There is a bit of Italian red tape you will face. However, with my help, you can easily become a happy holder of the Italian passport. So far I have helped a few foreigners obtain the Italian citizenship by descent.

Getting married in Italy and Italian citizenship by descent. One important thing. Once you obtain the Italian citizenship, you must marry following the procedure for the Italian citizens. It is also obligatory for future spouses who already have a double citizenship, one being Italian. Obtaining the Italian citizenship by descent and marry as an Italian in the Bel paese can make your wedding even more special. If you suspect or know about your Italian origins and would like to start the procedure, contact me. I will assist you with it.

Chinese citizens getting married in Italy.

There is a growing interest among Chinese citizens in getting married in Italy. There reasons for that are various – from the assumption that the charm of the Italian peninsula has reached the remote Asian country to the fact that there is a big Chinese community living here. I have already helped a few couples. They were either of mixed nationality: Chinese and foreign, Chinese and Italian or both spouses were Chinese. In each case the procedure differs.

In general, for a Chinese citizen planning to get married in Italy, the procedures required by the Italian state follow the line for non-EU citizen.

Nulla Osta is the most important document. You need to apply for it at the Chinese consulate that covers the Italian region where you want to get married. It may be either Rome or Milan. In order to receive it, you need to present the following documents:

  • photocopy of the passport
  • photocopy of the notarial deed of birth
  • the original of the Chinese notarial deed of the free status
  • the original certificate of free status issued by the municipality of residence
  • a self-declaration of free status

When the consulate issues the Nulla Osta, it has to be legalised by a state office called Prefettura. Once it is ready, you can present it at the Italian municipality that will host your ceremony. You must also remember that the Nulla Osta is valid for 3 months. More on the Italian civil marriage ceremony here.

This article names the general, important steps to be taken. Once you start the procedure, you may face issues or encounter the famous Italian red tape. My job is to represent you and assist you along the way, making sure all the documents are ready on time. If you have any doubts, questions or you wish to receive a quote, contact me.

civil ceremony in Italy

The formula of the civil ceremony in Italy.

The civil ceremony in Italy, no matter of its location, has its precise formula and approximate duration. Traditionally, the ceremony is held in the town hall. However, in the last 20 years, due to the growing popularity of Italy as wedding destination, each region has nominated various locations to be chosen from. No matter what your choice is, the lenght, the protocol and the requirements for the ceremony stay the same.

The lenght and the formal requirements for the ceremony. The ceremony lasts approximately 20 minutes. It is performed in the Italian language by the mayor or an official delegate. You need to have 2 witnesses. The requirements for them are:

  • over 18 years old
  • they must speak Italian ( required by some municipalities)

Anyone, including members of the family, can be your witness.

If both or one of the spouses doesn’t speak Italian, the presence of an official translator is required.

The formula of the civil ceremony in Italy. Be it inside the town hall, on the grounds of a Medieval castle or among the vineyards in Tuscany, the civil ceremony will follow the same protocol:

  • Introduction – the state official checks and confirms the generalities of the spouses. Then, they read the articles of the Italian law that define the marriage, the rights and the obligations of the spouses.
  • The consent part – both spouses are asked if they are willing to marry and the “yes” must be pronounced and confirmed by the witnesses.
  • The exchange of the rings.
  • The official proclamation – the spouses being united in matrimony.
  • The lecture of the Act of Matrimony.
  • The signing of the official register.

At the end of the ceremony, the newly married will receive the Certificate of Matrimony.

If you are planning an elopement wedding in Italy, where only the two of you will be present, do not worry – we might also provide help with finding the witnesses. Also, we can help you find an offical translator that will be present during the ceremony.

The legal documents and their expiry dates.

Even if you plan a small civil ceremony without a wedding reception, you still need to take into consideration how long it takes to complete the legal procedure and the expiry dates of the required documents in Italy. That’s why the timing is very important when you decide to get married abroad. There are a few factors to be considered.

First of all, if you choose a very famous and requested destination and you opt for a date that is a weekend, it is always better to book at least a year in advance.

Then, the timing of the legal procedures and the expiry date of the documents is very important. No matter what your nationality and country of origin is, the documents to be presented to the Italian authorities expire after 6 months. For some European countries,  they are only valid for 4 months. However, when it comes to European states, also the times required to complete the procedure are shorter as the procedures are simpler.

By contrast, for non-European countries, the procedure is more complex. In such cases it is always preferable to get informed at least a year in advance on the procedures and types of documents to be collected.

A quite recent case that I remember is that of an American citizen, residing in the USA but born in India. He had to produce a birth certificate issued by the Ministry of Foreign  Affairs in India. This certificate had to have the apostille done and had to be translated into Italian. All this in order to obtain the Atto Notorio released by the Italian authorities with the expiry date after 6 months. Knowing the steps that we had to complete to obtain the document, we were able to start the procedures and complete them on time.

For this reason it is essential to know your personal situation at least a year before and understand what to do. Once you know how to proceed and the times required, you can proceed with the booking of the wedding venue and start the procedure with the right timing.

In other blog post I have explained the types of documents required for legal marriage according to the nationality. Here you can find out more. 

To sum up, knowing beforehand how long it takes to complete the procedure and the expiry dates of the documents, you will be able to avoid stressful and unpredicted situations. With the right guidance it will be completed smoothly and you will be able to focus on the more pleasant parts of the wedding preparations! 

Unique and unusual places for a legal wedding in Italy

Civil wedding does not necessary mean getting married in the very town hall of the municipality you have chosen. A compromise can be the civil ceremony in the official place and a symbolic ceremony in an unlimited variety of places, with the help of a celebrant. But there is also a third way – you can get legally married in Italy in a unique and unusual place. The list of such places is long and it is growing every year as the local governments authorise new locations for civil, legally binding, ceremonies.

As Italy is has a rich historical and natural patrimony, so is the list of unique places to get married in this beautiful country. Among them you will find:

  1. castles and historical buildings – from ruins of medieval castles located in historical centres or on top of hills to defence towers along the coast;
  2. villas and palaces with their amazing interiors full of art collections, antique furniture and beautiful surroundings;
  3. places of natural beauty – nature reserves, landscape parks, tops of hills or mountains, enchanting beaches on the coastline of the south of Italy and the Italian islands such as Sardinia and Sicily; little deserted islands reachable only by boat;
  4. unique places like archaeological sites, opera houses and theatres.

Every region of Italy is famous for its historical or natural patrimony.  The historical patrimony ranges from the times before the Roman Empire to the beginning of the 20th century. Think about Taormina, Nora, Florence, Venice, Palermo or Turin. All this surrounded by breathtaking mountainous or coastal landscape. Not to mention the spectacular hills of Tuscany. In any of these places there is a magical location where you can organise a legally-binding ceremony.

 There are regions or cities that have original and unique places to offer that you will not find in any other part of Italy or the world. In Sardinia you can get married inside one of the nuraghe, a tower-like, megalithic building left by a mysterious civilization. In Verona the civil ceremony can be organised in the house of Romeo and Juliet.

Whether you dream of a civil wedding inside the walls of a castle or with the sound of sea, the choices in Italy are unlimited. The list of unique places is getting longer and when starting your search, you can go either by region or by the typology. Just express your wish and I will find a perfect solution for you, assisting you with booking the place and following all the procedures.

Contact me  to see what we can do for you.

same sex marriage in Italy

Same-sex marriage in Italy for the Italian and non-Italian citizens.

The Civil Union Act, known also as the Cirinna Law passed in the Italian Parliament almost 4 years ago and since then  it is possible for same-sex couples to legalise their relationship in a civil union in Italy. The law in effect from 5 June 2016 makes the same-sex marriage in the form of a civil union accessible not only to Italian citizens but also to mixed couples (Italian and non-Italian) and to foreigners who do not reside in Italy.

The legal situation of gay people in the country of origin and the same-sex marriage in Italy.

What is important, you can still form a civil union with your partner in Italy, even if your country of origin does not recognise same-sex marriages or partnerships. The Italian law takes into consideration also these cases. The bill talks about special procedures when it comes to required documents and the situation of foreigners from countries where homosexuality is still illegal.

The documents required.

Regarding the documents, the requirements for the civil union are identical or similar to the ones required for civil marriage. The most important and most common document is the certificate of no impediment to the marriage. In Italy it is often referred to as “nulla osta”.  If you are a citizen of a country that does not recognise a same-sex marriage, you will be asked to request a certificate of your marital status that confirms that you are single.  

For example, even in the European Union there are still countries that does not officially recognise same-sex partnerships or marriages. I have organised a civil union for a same-sex couple originating from Poland. They both requested and obtained the certificate of marital status. After translating it in Italy the document was accepted by the Italian registry office.

The ceremony.

When it comes to the ceremony itself, there are some changes in the wording of the Act of the Civil Union. Apart from that the structure of the ceremony is the same. It is performed by the state official, at the town hall or at the place chosen by the couple (from the places officially recognised by the town hall), with the required presence of two witnesses, the consent part and the signing of the Act.

The recognition of the same-sex marriage in the country of origin.

The Civil Union is automatically recognised by the state of Italy, with all the rights and duties stated in the Civil Union Act. If you want to register the civil union in a country abroad you must bear in mind that for each state the situation will vary. The law applied will be the law of that country. If, for example, you are a British citizen who after getting married to their partner in Italy wants to register the union in the UK, then you can and you have to register as a civil partnership. If, however, you are a citizen of Lithuania or a US citizen residing in Kentucky, your same-sex marriage in Italy will not be recognised in your country.

So far I have assisted same-sex couples, Italian and non-Italian citizens, coming from China, the UK and the United States. Sometimes it was hard to get through the legal procedures of the country of origin. But we have made it and since I was also present at some of the unions ( I can assure you that these weddings were not only a celebration of love, a beautiful event shared with the loved ones, but also the victory of human rights.

Contact me for further information

Legal requirements for US citizens getting legally married in Italy

This article contains information for US citizens who are planning to get legally married in Italy and are looking for a guidance regarding all legal requirements.

All documents originating outside Italy (birth certificate, divorce decree, etc.) must be translated into Italian and authenticated by the nearest Italian Consulate having jurisdiction over the place of issuance in the U.S. before they can be presented to the Italian authorities and recognised by them as valid.

Both the original documents and the translations must be legalized for the use in Italy, with the so-called Apostille stamp, in accordance with The Hague Convention on the legalization of foreign public documents.

American citizens who decide to get married in Italy must prepare a series of documents. The same procedure is valid for the whole territory of Italy. The only thing that changes is the right American Consulate you need to contact, as there are a few in Italy and each of them has a different part of Italy under their jurisdiction.

Below you will find the list of necessary documents and the procedures to follow to obtain them.

There are documents that you need to acquire in US before travelling to Italy. They are the following:

1.Valid U.S. passport (members of the U.S. Armed Forces can present their military ID card instead).

2.Birth certificate (original or certified copy).
The original Long Birth Certificate (showing parents names) needs an Apostille and has to be translated into Italian in order to be used in Italy. Where to get the Apostille in US:

3. Evidence of the termination of any previous marriage/s if applicable (e.g., final divorce decree, annulment decree, or death certificate of former spouse). The certificate of termination of any previous marriage needs to have the Apostille and has to be translated into Italian.

If you are a female whose previous marriage was terminated within the last 300 days, you must obtain a waiver from “La  Procura della Repubblica presso il tribunale” in the city where the new marriage will be performed. The waiver is issued upon presentation of medical evidence that you are not pregnant.

4. Atto notorio

This is a declaration stating that according to the laws to which you are subject in the United States, there is no impediment to your marriage. This declaration is to be sworn to by two witnesses (who may be of any nationality, must be over 18, possess valid photo identification, and know the applicant; they cannot be family members, future family members or affines) before an Italian consul at the closest Italian Consulate to your current residence. If one or both spouses do not speak Italian, it is necessary to provide an interpreter, in addition to the two witnesses.
 Note: Neither spouse can act as a witness or interpreter.

Once in Italy, the procedure continues as follows.

First you need to obtain the Affidavit or “Dichiarazione  Giurata” (so called Nullaosta) sworn before an American consular officer commissioned in Italy, stating that there is no legal impediment to your marriage according to the laws of the U.S. state in which you are a resident.  

In order to obtain  the Affidavit you will need to schedule an appointment for a notary service with the U.S Consular Section closest to your wedding destination in Italy or at the U.S.Embassy in Rome.

 For more info about Consulates in  Italy click here

Before attending the appointment you can download the appropriate form in order to save time. You should fill it but do not sign as it must be signed in front of the consular officer.

Download here

Once the “Dichiarazione  Giurata” has been issued, you must bring it to the Legalization Office (Ufficio Legalizzazioni) at the local Prefettura to legalize it. 

Before going to the Prefettura, you will need to purchase a revenue stamp (marca da bollo) one for each document which costs approx. 16 euro each at a tobacconist (tabacchi) to take with you.

The Dichiarazione Giurata has a validity of six months and costs 55$ per person.

Once you have completed this procedure you have all documents ready to be presented at the Registry office of the town hall of the city where the marriage will be performed.

You will make a “Declaration of Intention to Marry” (Dichiarazione di Matrimonio) before a civil registrar (ufficiale di statocivile).  If you do not speak Italian, a translator has to accompany you.  

Usually the Declaration takes place 2 or 3 days prior the wedding and in some cases on the same day and the procedure takes approx. 20 minutes.

The civil ceremony is performed by the Mayor, one of his deputies or a Registrar. The ceremony is performed in Italian and translated into English by an official translator.  You will need two witnesses, one for each of you, who must be over 18. A witness cannot act as interpreter.

At the end of the ceremony you will receive the marriage certificate (ask for few copies as you won’t be charged any extra fee). In some town halls you will receive it immediately after the ceremony but is some cases you will need to go to the Registry office in person the day after the ceremony at the earliest to collect it in person.

The marriage certificate, in order to be valid in your country, has to be legalised through the Apostille at the Prefettura of the area where you got married.

The above procedure is valid for a US couple resident in US.  If one of the parties is Italian or is an American with Italian residency, please be aware that the procedure is completely different. Please ask for more information

Civil requirements for British citizens getting legally married in Italy

British citizens can get married in Italy and their wedding will be legally binding in their home country or in the country where they reside.

As I wrote in one of my previous articles, the procedure described below will change in a year from now, as starting from January 2021 a new procedure will apply. So please follow my blog to stay updated.

Please be aware that all documents have a validity of six months or 3 months if you are a resident in Scotland.

The below procedure applies only for British nationals residing in the UK.

Getting married in Italy involves providing specific documents from your home country. Documents that will certify your identity and that there are no legal impediments to your marriage.

There are 4 simple steps that each British national must follow to get the right paperwork done for marrying in Italy.

Below is a list of all required documents. Before the marriage of a British national can be celebrated in Italy, the Italian authorities, in this case the COMUNE (Town Hall) requires the following documents:

  • A Certificate of No Impediment issued and legalised in Britain and officially translated into Italian in Italy;
  • A bilingual Statutory Declaration issued and legalised in the Britain;
  • Copy of Passports;

In Britain

You need to Publish the Banns at your local registry office in order to get your Certificates of no Impediment (one for each of you). To find your local registry office in England & Wales you can use the following website:

Your Certificate of No Impediment will be then released after 2 or 3 weeks and it has a validity of six months. It is essential that the names you give to the Registrar, which will appear on your Certificates of No Impediment, are exactly the same as written in your passports

You can obtain the necessary Certificates of No Impediment by producing the following documents:

  • British Passport (copy of passport if you are applying from outside of Italy)
  • Evidence of termination of any previous marriage of both parties, if applicable, (i.e. death certificate or divorce decree absolute) together with the previous marriage certificate.

Important: under the Italian law a female who has been divorced and whishes to re-marry in Italy, cannot re-marry until 300 days have passed from the date of her divorce. It is possible, however, to apply for a dispensation to this through an Italian Magistrate of the area where the marriage is to take place.

  • Deed-poll showing change of name. In cases where the name on the birth certificate differs from the one on the passport, (except for cases when the woman – the bride-to be took her previous husband’s name),

While waiting for your Certificate of No Impediment you are advised to make a statutory declaration before a solicitor or public notary in the UK. The solicitor or public notary will charge a fee for this service.

The Certificate of No Impediment and your Statutory Declaration need to be sent to the FCO Legalisation Office in Milton Keynes to be legalised with a Hague Apostille. The Legalisation Office will charge you for this – please check the current charges and procedure at the Legalisation Office website.

The legalised Certificate of No Impediment has to be translated into Italian.
As it will become an Italian legal document it must be translated by a translator based in Italy and recognised by the Italian court.

When everything is ready, the documentation has to be sent to the Town Hall where you will be married.

One or two days before the ceremony (sometimes on the same day) you will have to make the Declaration of Intent to Marry at the Registry office. If you don’t speak Italian you need to be assisted by an official translator.

The civil ceremony is performed by the Mayor, one of his deputies or a Registrar. The ceremony is performed in Italian and translated into English by an official translator. You will need two witnesses, one for each of you who must be over 18. A witness cannot act as interpreter.

 At the end of the ceremony you will receive an international version of the  marriage certificate. Ask for few copies as you won’t be charged any extra fee. In some town halls you will receive it immediately after the ceremony. In some cases, however, you will have to go to the Registry office in person the day after (at the earliest) to collect it in person.
You can use your marriage certificate straight away for any legal purposes. My advice is to deposit one copy at the Registry office where you are resident. If one day you need proof of being married, you will be able to request copies  directly there.

Change of Surname

As the change of surname does not apply automatically after the wedding in Italy, your marriage certificate will still show your maiden name. You should change it once you are back home. Please refer to your authorities for that:

Please be aware that the procedure described above is the standard procedure for a couple of British nationals residing in the UK. All other cases have different procedures to be followed and authorities in charge to issue the CNI or Nulla osta.

There are seven possible different scenarios :

  • a British National resident in the UK is marrying a foreign national (Italian or otherwise)
  • both parties are British nationals and both are resident in Italy
  • a British national, resident in Italy, wishes to marry a foreign national, Italian or otherwise
  • a British National resident in the UK is getting married to an Irish national
  • two British nationals are resident abroad (not Italy, not Commonwealth) wish to marry in Italy
  • a British national resident abroad (not Italy, not Commonwealth) wishes to marry a foreign national (Italian or otherwise) in Italy
  • a British National resident in a Commonwealth Country is marrying in Italy

 For further info please always refer  to your authorities:

Brexit or no-Brexit

In the last few months I have been receiving inquires from British couples asking if they can get legally married in Italy after Brexit.  In the light of geopolitical changes, they express their concern about post-Brexit procedures.  Very often this is the reason why they decide to postpone their wedding or no longer consider getting married abroad. Which is a shame, because as you are going to read in a moment, not much will change from the legal point of view, or if there are changes, there will be the transition period long enough for you to take the right action.

In case the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the procedures will change. But they will not be new. In fact, it is predicted that if Brexit happens, the legal requirements for British citizens getting married in Italy will go back to the procedures used to be executed a few years ago. As far as the documents are concerned, you will still need to get your certificate of no impediment from your local registry office. What will change is the legal path and different authorities involved in recognizing your documents as valid ( i.e. the British consulate in Italy).

My advice is to not wait for the politicians to take their final decision. Book your wedding date in advance to secure the venue and all the time you need for the preparations, arrangements, etc. Don not worry; even if you book your wedding a year ahead, you will not be requested to collect the documents immediately –they are only valid for 6 months. And with the transition periods in force in case of Brexit, there will be enough time to follow the right procedure.

As for other arrangements, bear in mind that to travel in the EU, British citizens, not having an actual ID, have always needed a passport and coming to Italy for your wedding will still mean travelling as tourists, with a stay no longer than 90 days, a visa will NOT be required. The only change you will notice as you arrive at your destination, will be the exit you will have to take. This time you will have to head for “non-EU” 😉

However, what I have just described regards only the British citizens residing in the UK. Being a British citizen but residing outside the UK means that the legal procedures for you are already different, regardless of Brexit. In my 14-year experience I have come across various scenarios depending on the country of birth/country of residence. It is my job to analyze every case individually and guide you. Brexit or no-Brexit, if your dream was to get married in Italy, do not hesitate anymore. I am here to help you.

About me

I am the co-founder of Frinaeventi, an event planning company that specializes in weddings for foreigners in Sardinia, Italy. We have been operating on the market for more than 12 years. One of my roles has always been to follow the couples getting legally married in Italy. Among the hundreds of spouses we have successfully wed there are people from all over the world, including almost all European countries, the Russian Federation, the US, Australia, Canada, Argentina and Brazil, to name but a few.

Vittoria Sirena
Vittoria Sirena, the founder of LegallymarriedinItaly

My educational background consists of the MA in Political Science, Law and Public Administration, which courses included also the International Law and the Civil Law. Through the university years and professional work I have examined and exercised the International Conventions that define the civil and family status. I know how to implement the rules and regulations, regarding especially foreigners wishing to marry in Italy.

Over the years I have built a network of contacts within the local and national administration, lawyers, embassies and consulates, state officials and sworn translators with whom I collaborate on a daily basis. I can guarantee a successful outcome with a professional approach and fast proceeding.

Last but not least, I speak fluent English, which should not be taken for granted when dealing with local administration here.

With my team we offer the assistance with all the procedures regarding legally-binding wedding ceremonies in Italy.

Italy is famous worldwide for its cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, but also for excessive bureaucracy.
If the last one overwhelms you, here comes the good news: you’ve come to the right place.

Our services cover all aspects of legal marriage in Italy so that your big event runs smoothly. Whether you are a foreigner dreaming about getting married in our beautiful country, a descendant of Italian expats living abroad or you are a mixed couple where one of you is an Italian citizen, our consultancy company will take you through the whole process of getting legally married, valid both in Italy and recognised in any country you wish, be it the country of your origin or where you reside now.

I am based in Italy and operate throughout the country.
Since 2006 we have helped hundreds of couples coming from about 50 different nationalities, which confirms our vast experience in this field.

Leave it to me. I know who to contact and how to intervene. I will go through the labyrinth of the Italian red tape so that you can focus on more pleasant things regarding your special day.

If these services are in line with your requirements and expectations, please get in touch at or use our online form

Contact us to see what we can do for you.

Vittoria Sirena

The founder of