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Marriage in Belgium

Information about marriage

Officers at American embassies and consulates have no authority to perform marriages in foreign countries. It is usually the laws and regulations of the country that prevail.

Belgian marriage requirements for American citizens

Caveat: Because it is the laws and regulations of Belgium that are applicable for marriage in Belgium, it is recommended that you contact the Belgian marriage officer in your jurisdiction of residency in Belgium to inquire about the requirements.

The competent Belgian authority performing marriages is called "Ambtenaar van de Burgerlijke Stand/Officier de l’ Etat Civil". Only marriages celebrated by this official in due and legal form are valid. A religious ceremony may, however, be performed subsequently at the option of the contracting parties.

In general, the following is required:

In order to contract marriage in Belgium, one of the parties must reside in the country. There is no specific period of residence, but several weeks are generally necessary for completion of the required formalities. If neither of the parties has a fixed residence in Belgium, one of them must establish a residence for this purpose. Upon arrival in Belgium, the party registers with the communal authorities in the district of his domicile and requests a "Bewijs van Woonst voor Huwelijksdoeleinden/Certificat de Domicile pour Mariage" (Certificate of Residence for Marriage Purposes). The party residing in Belgium (or the one who has established a residence as explained above), may submit the following required documents for both parties, and request publication of the banns in the commune in which he or she resides. The marriage may be performed ten days after posting of the banns.

In addition to the "Certificate of Residence for Marriage Purposes", the parties contracting marriage in Belgium are each required to produce the following documents:

  1. a certified copy of the birth certificate;
  2. a certificate of residence showing full name, place and date of birth, last legal residence, nationality and marital status of the individuals. The Belgian communal authorities will deliver such a certificate to the party registered in Belgium. The party not registered in Belgium must obtain it from the authorities of his or her last place of residence **;
  3. if one of the parties has been previously married, proof must be furnished of the dissolution of the former marriage, either in the form of
      
    • a death certificate of the former spouse, or
    • an authenticated copy of a divorce decree, as appropriate.

When the divorce decree does not indicate the date on which the divorce became final, a statement to that effect, delivered by the court which pronounced the divorce, must also be produced.

All official documents issued in a foreign country (e.g. the United States) must be authenticated by means of the "Apostille", an international authentication procedure recognized in the United States of America and Belgium. In the United States, the "Apostille" is issued by the office of the Secretary of State in the state where the document was issued. If the documents are written in a language other than the language in which the marriage is to be celebrated in Belgium, they must be translated by a sworn translator (a list of sworn translators can be found in the yellow pages of the Belgian telephone directory). If the translation is not made in Belgium, the signature of the translator must also be authenticated as explained above.

** A person whose last place of residence was in the United States will not be able to obtain a certificate of residence since this document is not available in the United States. In that case, the person should inquire from the commune authorities what they will accept instead of a U.S. certificate of residence.

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