Bureaucracy, The Italian Way

M and I are getting married in April. And the decision to marry in Italy was simultaneous to the decision to marry in general.

And it happened like this: we were at Lake Garda for a short weekend trip, and of course we already had vague discussions of marriage, but nothing concrete. While sitting at our favorite hotel, Baia dei Pini, drinking an Aperol Spritz, the idea came to have our wedding party at that hotel, born in that moment.

In addition, Italy would be somewhat of a compromise destination between our two sides, and it would allow for an intimate wedding with a small group of family and friends.

And soon thereafter, I was faced with the list of requirements for an American to marry in Italy and are following:

1. U.S. Passport.

2. Birth Certificate. However, each official document must be issued within 6 months of the wedding. Therefore, I have to request a new birth certificate, etc and to accompany the new documents, there should be an official Italian translation, and then accredited with a Apostille Stamp by the State Department of the state in which it was issued. And somehow, I’m figuring out how to obtain these documents abroad.

3. Dichiarazione Giurata. To begin with, some of these words are even harder to pronounce than they are to acquire. It is an affidavit sworn in front of a American Consular officer located in Italy, in my case in Milan, stating that there is no legal impediment to the marriage according to the laws of the U.S. state in which I am a resident.  My legal status must be such that I can legally marry under both Italian and U.S. law. It must be done within 6 months from the wedding. Afterward, it must be legalized at the local Legalization Office, in this case, in Verona.

4. Atto Notorio. This one is best obtained in the U.S at the Italian Consulate. It can be obtained in Italy, but I have been advised that it is nearly impossible in its complication. So I will take the easy way out and squeeze it in during a trip to NY. This is another document swearing there is no obstacle to my marriage in front of two witnesses that I know and they cannot be family or future family.

5. Finally, once obtained, I need to present all the above-listed documents to the Marriage Office in the town in which we will marry.

6. Once married, the marriage certificate should receive an Apostille Stamp in order to make it valid for the U.S.

As always, it’s a fun process with international bureaucracy. Afterward, I will be allowed to obtain a visa in Germany. This was a process in itself a few months earlier. I had assumed, at first, that as long as I continued to leave Europe every 3 months, I would have no problems. But then there came a point when I read that it was only 3 months within 6 months I could stay in Germany. Naturally, we headed to the Ausländerbehörde, foreigner’s office, on several occasions to finally learn that Americans are indeed allowed to be in the country indefinitely, as long as they leave the Schengen Zone every 3 months. And they advertise this nowhere on the internet.

But with time and a great deal of patience, it all eventually gets sorted out.

And the fun will continue after the marriage to arrange a green card in the U.S.


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