International Marriage Couple

The Legal Process of International Marriage: 10 Things You Should Know (2023)

Finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is a magical feeling. The years of dating and getting to know each other all culminate in the ultimate way to express your commitment to one another.

However, the excitement of planning the wedding of your dreams can be clouded by your legal obligations of getting married if your partner is a foreign national. It is always best to consult a family solicitor to make sure you have everything covered.

Extra Processes to Consider

Happy couple looking away at the landscape


Marrying a foreigner can mean a lifetime of benefits. From a different culture to delicious food, your other half can teach you a new outlook on life. However, with the benefits comes a few challenges.

Intertwining two cultures doesn’t always run smoothly, so it is important to communicate clearly with your partner about the various aspects of married life.

Issues such as finances, relationships with extended family and traditions around holidays all can cause friction, so it is best to get them aired before the big day.

You could consider completing a course of premarital counseling to help you communicate with each other.

Check if You Need a Visa

Several different visas may be relevant to your situation. If you are coming to the UK to get married but are not planning on staying then you will need a Marriage or Civil Partnership Visitor Visa. This will allow you to stay up to 6 months to get married as long as you leave at the end.

If one person in the relationship is a British citizen or has indefinite leave to remain then your partner must apply for a Fiancé(e) Visa. Similar to the Visitor Visa, this lasts for 6 months. However, you will need to prove your intent to settle in the UK once you are married.

Once the marriage takes place you will need to apply to have this transferred into a Spouse Visa. As you will need to pay for both applications, it is worth bearing this in mind when budgeting for your wedding.

If you are already married outside of the UK and want to move here then a Spouse Visa is for you. This means you have more flexibility over your big day outside the UK. Plus, you can always have a wedding party once you arrive on British soil.

Apply for a Visa

Visa Application for an International Marriage


Once you have decided which visa is right for you, applying for it is the next step. The forms are available on the government website and walk you through the process step by step.

Give your Notice of Marriage

Regardless of your nationality, everyone getting married in the UK must give notice of their impending marriage. This means you need to sign legal documentation at least 29 days before your wedding ceremony, which can take place up to 12 months after. You will need to make an appointment at your local registry office in the district where one of you lives.

Managing paperwork

To give notice you will need to provide your visa documents as well as a valid passport, a passport-sized photo for both parties, and proof of your home address.

Obtaining Legal Documentation

In order to ensure a smooth international marriage, obtaining the necessary legal documentation is crucial. Research the specific requirements of both your home country and your partner’s country, as they may differ.

Typical documents needed include passports, birth certificates, and proof of marital status (such as divorce decrees or death certificates if applicable). It is important to start this process well in advance, as some documents may take time to acquire or need to be translated into the official language of the destination country.

Understanding Cultural Differences and Customs

International marriages often involve bringing together two individuals from different cultural backgrounds. It is essential to take the time to understand and respect each other’s customs, traditions, and values.

This understanding will not only enrich your relationship but also help you navigate the legal process more effectively.

Research and learn about the marriage customs and legal requirements of your partner’s country. Familiarize yourself with any specific cultural practices or ceremonies that may be expected during the marriage ceremony.

Arranging for Marriage Officiation

Marriage Officiation


One important step in the legal process of international marriage is arranging for an authorized marriage officiant. The requirements for marriage officiation can vary depending on the country and even within different regions.

It is crucial to ensure that the person conducting the ceremony is recognized by the local authorities and has the legal authority to perform marriages.

This may involve submitting an application or providing specific documentation to the relevant government office.

Post-marriage Legalization and Recognition

After the marriage ceremony, it is essential to ensure that your marriage is legally recognized and legalized in both your home country and your partner’s country. This may involve obtaining a marriage certificate or license from the country where the marriage took place and then taking steps to register or legalize the marriage in your respective home countries.

Each country may have its own specific requirements and processes for recognizing and registering international marriages.

Get married!

Once all these legal procedures are out of the way you can enjoy your big day. Have fun and good luck!

Final Thoughts

Married couple holding hands. Depiction of International Marriage.


The legal process of international marriage involves several essential steps to ensure a smooth and legally recognized union between individuals from different countries.

It is crucial to understand and fulfill the additional processes and requirements involved in an international marriage, such as obtaining the necessary visas, managing paperwork, and giving notice of marriage.

Additionally, acquiring the required legal documentation, understanding cultural differences, arranging for marriage officiation, and ensuring post-marriage legalization and recognition are crucial steps in this process.

By following these steps and seeking guidance from appropriate authorities, couples can navigate the legal complexities and ensure a successful and legally binding international marriage.