The process to get married in a foreign country can be a long and painfully stressful one. As a Canadian citizen getting married in Germany, I must prove I am single, I am Canadian, that the Canadian government does not object to my marriage, that all of my documents are legit and through all of this, there will be some steps in there that make absolutely no sense, but government red tape often puts its own citizens in loops. The following are all the steps I took.
A) A letter stating you do not need a Certificate of non-impediment to marriage stating that you are single
This one will drive you up the wall. This step is easy, but is COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY USELESS. Do you need to do this step? No, because regardless of what the letter says, you still need the Certificate. So I suggest you skip this step unless the agent at the German town hall specifically asks for this, but even so, this is a redundant step and a waste of money.
Cost? 35 Euros or $50 Canadian. To do this, you need to have someone do a direct bank transfer to the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. I STRONGLY suggest you do not do a direct bank transfer from a Canadian bank. Royal Bank of Canada would have charged me $45 to do a $50 bank transfer. Instead, what I did was send money to my fiance in Germany through Paypal which charged me about $1, then she did a direct bank transfer for me which cost nothing further.
Seems like they have since added a way to pay via Credit Card.
What is its purpose? To have the Canadian embassy in Berlin provide a letter that will be mailed to a German postal address (eg: your fiance), that states as a Canadian, you do not need to have a certificate of non-impediment to marriage stating that you are single. This letter is to be brought to city town hall where you will register your marriage, to show the agent there you don’t need that document.
What’s the catch? The problem is that the German government still needs a certificate of non-impediment to marriage stating that you are single.
The solution? Look at step B.
B) What you really need
You have to get the appropriate documents and bring them with you to the German Embassy in a Canadian city. You will need to bring the following:
1. Long Form Birth Certificate that has the names of your parents
2. Current Passport
3. Driver’s License or Provincial Photo ID
At the German Embassy, you need to tell the officer there that you need the following:
1. Certificate in lieu of non-impediment to marriage certificate for German registrar
2. Marriage questionnaire
3. Proof of Citizenship
4. Law of Attorney, that gives your spouse the authority to make decisions on your behalf
5. Photocopy of ALL of the pages including the covers and inside covers of your passport
6. Photocopy of both back and front of your Driver’s License/Photo ID
7. German translation of both back and front of your Long Form Birth Certificate
The officers will provide the legally certified documents. Each document will have its own official seal stamp and signature signed by a senior diplomat. You will also be required to go into their office and with a witness of either your own attorney or one of their embassy officers, swear that you are true to whatever answer you give them when asked questions pertaining to the marriage questionnaire. They will first read the documents in German, then read them in English.
At the time of doing this, I did not need an appointment, but I needed to go in there during the morning because their office hours were limited. Furthermore, the whole session took less than two hours and the officers there were very friendly. It was also wise to bring a mobile phone with you and have your future spouse aid in the process. When I was there, they needed my spouse’s birth information and other info. So I ended up handing my phone to an officer there.
All of the documents will have to be in German. At the time of doing this, the total cost came out to be 204.01 Euros which was about $290 Canadian.
Once you get that done, put it all together in an international cardboard letter sleeve. The postal clerk will know what it is. I suggest using Registered Mail which provides insurance and tracking. It will be more expensive, but it’s definitely worth it since it is your marriage we’re talking about here. The documents you’re sending are:
1. In German, stamped and signed by embassy diplomat: Certificate in lieu of non-impediment to marriage certificate for German registrar
2. In German, stamped and signed by embassy diplomat: Marriage questionnaire that also states you are a Canadian citizen and you are single
3. In German, stamped and signed by embassy diplomat: Law of Attorney
4. In German, stamped and signed by embassy diplomat: Photocopy of ALL of the pages including the covers and inside covers of your passport, both back and front of your Driver’s License/Photo ID
5. In German, stamped and signed by embassy diplomat: German translation of both back and front of your Long Form Birth Certificate ALONG with your original long form birth certificate
Note that it is possible there are other documents, so make sure to double check with your future spouse what the German town hall requires from you before you head out to the embassy.
Once your partner receives the documents, s/he will bring them to the town hall along with her/his own personal documents such as:
1. Birth Certificate that has the names of the parents
2. Driver’s License or Provincial Photo ID
3. Other documents that support her residency and citizenship
If you do not understand German, you will need a German to English translator at the ceremony. This can be a friend or an official translator. However, this cannot be anyone related to your future spouse. Fortunately for Amber and I, we found Nadine who is a good friend of Amber’s from years ago.
Amber registered and prepared the documents at the Kiel town hall, even though we got married at Schonberg town hall.
Once your spouse gives your documents to the agent at the town hall, the agent will pass your documents to a district judge to review your documents, then send them back to the town hall. When that is done, your future spouse in Germany will need to meet with them again through appointment only to take the documents back. However, there is one more catch. As a Canadian citizen, you need to arrive before the actual marriage ceremony to meet with a town hall agent and go over some legalities and sign some documents. Your future wife/husband, the translator and yourself will need to be there.
If you are bringing a best man or bridesmaid, be sure that they keep their passport on them on the day of the ceremony. They will need to show it to the Marriage Officiant before s/he signs the document that witnesses the marriage take place. My best man Patrick Leung was there with me that special day.
Make sure you give yourself ample time before the marriage date. I got the initial marriage document checklist in February 2013 and found out about the letter blunder in March. It wasn’t until early April that I found out exactly what was needed. Amber needed to go to the town hall in Kiel and asked them what we needed exactly. The Canadian government website was useless as it provided false and outdated information. Once we got all that info, I went to the German Embassy in Vancouver on April 30th and received the documents in the same day. Then through Registered Mail, mailed the documents to Amber in early May. Once she got the documents and went into another town hall appointment later that same month, it was sent to the district judge which took nearly a month. Once the documents came back and another appointment was made, which this time was to finalize everything, another appointment was set for the translator, my future wife and myself to meet with the town hall agent which happened on September 5th, a day before our wedding.
Although we were barely lucky to have everything completed within four to five months, I’ve read stories where some people weren’t so lucky. Then again, following their rants online, I realized it was primarily because they were ill informed and ill equipped.
I hope my little guide here will help start you on your journey to be together with your future spouse in Germany. Note that Amber and I got married September 6th, 2013 just before noon.