How to Get Married in Croatia

croatia, resources

Drone image of Split Croatia

Disclaimer

I’m Steph Kadlicko, a Croatia destination wedding photographer. I am many things, but I am not an attorney. The information available in this article and the materials available at this website are strictly for informational purposes only. They are not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem related to this topic.

By using this website, links, and information available here you explicitly release 5th Photography and any of its staff or affiliates from any liability associated with the information provided and topic discussed. My opinions on this website or through the information provided are just that, my opinions and learnings.

That said, this is the most comprehensive article on the web about how to get married in Croatia!

Why Get Married in Croatia

Croatia has been a secret gem that only the lucky have found. But in the last two decades, more and more Europeans and global travelers have discovered the Mediterranean beauty. In other words, Croatia is now being seen as both a leisure and wedding destination and you don’t want to miss out. Tucked away, immediately east of Italy, the boomerang shaped country arguably has the most beautiful coastal sunsets in all of Europe.

wedding ceremony view in croatia of dubrovnik

Couples that choose Croatia are drawn to one of many things. Firstly, one of the most common attributes are the 1000 miles of mainland coastline, the 1000+ islands to visit and entertain on. On any given day you can island hop to castles and fortresses, stroll through enchanted gardens, spelunk through caves, traverse mountains or visit one of myriad waterfalls.

Secondly, the destination is absolutely ideal for hosting weddings. It serves an easy mix of fresh mediterranean cuisine and almost guarantees perfectly clear skis for the entire spring summer and fall – with days perfectly set to set your skin aglow without humidity or excessive temperatures.

You’ve made the excellent decision of hosting your destination wedding in Croatia, you must be thrilled. I’ve put together this document to help guide you in the logistical marriage requirements and show you exactly what you need to do to get married in Croatia. I left the other wedding design items in my Guide to Designing Your Croatia Destination Wedding. You will see there are administrative elements you will want to keep straight. I will help you stay organized with that in addition to working through the country specifics that will allow your marriage to happen on Croatian soil.

coast of croatia wedding ceremony location in dubrovnik

Legally Binding Civil Marriage Ceremonies in Croatia

The civil ceremony is the only legally binding marriage in Croatia. What you will find is that your country most likely will defer to the marriage civil ceremony, that is, irrespective of where a religious ceremony was held your country of marriage will reference your civil union. Therefore, other Countries typically do not recognize religious ceremonies held in Croatia or any other country. In other words, plan to have a religious ceremony in addition to the civil ceremony. However, ensure you have a civil union in your country or in Croatia.

It’s very important to remember that requirements are dependent on the citizenship of the couple and where the couple resides. You must contact your local embassy to inquire or hire a planner to navigate the process of getting married in croatia for you. For a list of wonderful wedding planners, visit my Guide to Designing Your Croatia Destination Wedding. Additionally, you must finalize all paperworkin Croatia, which requires couples arrive in Croatia several full working days prior to their wedding, excluding weekends. Often couples take multiple trips to start the paperwork

  • All foreign paperwork and proceedings need translations by a Croatian court interpreter in order to be acceptable for your permits. This includes your ceremony for either partner in a couple if he or she does not speak Croatian

An alternate is to have a symbolic ceremony in Croatia, where dealing with the paperwork can be managed in your place of residence, in your home country.

Step 1 – Make Your Selections and Decisions About Getting Married in Croatia

What Date Will You Choose for Your Wedding?

You can get married in Croatia any day of the week without a problem. However, non-religious ceremonies are typically at the Registrar’s office, which is works Monday through Friday with varying hours, depending on the city. When selecting a date consider day of the week and confirm availability of the officiant prior to setting the date in stone with any guests. If you are working with a planner, the planner can arrange for this very easily. If you are managing planning alone, ensure the date you selected is confirmed with the Registrar’s office. You can always arrange to have an officiant designated by the Registrar’s office come to your location.

At What Location Will You Marry?

You will need to arrange for the legal officiant of the Registrar’s office to travel to you if you select a location other than the Registrar’s office. The fees associated with this are based on day of the week, distance to the wedding location, and time of day.

Who Will Your Witnesses Be?

You must have two witnesses present at your ceremony when you marry in Croatia. There are no gender requirements or relation requirements. Just pick a couple of people you like and know and you’re all set here.

Will Either Partner Make a Name Change?

Whether or not you or your partner plan on making a name change, ensure you know this information prior to contacting the Office of the Registrar. It’s imparative that you have clear answers and know exactly what you want when speaking to the Office of the Registrar.

Will You Work With a Wedding Planner

If you are planning to have a wedding in Croatia, I would encourage you to hire a wedding planner. Many of the upcoming steps will be completed by the planner saving you time and, quite likely, frustration. With time zone differences, potential language barriers, local bureaucracy and the like, a planner can be very helpful and experienced.

Contact the Office of the Registrar

Reach out to the local Office of the Registrar in the city or region where you intend to marry 91 days or more prior to the wedding date. The office will notify you of specifics, they will open your official file and the documents in Step 2 will be requested.

Step 2 – Collect Your Documents

Birth Certificates

Order new original duplicate birth certificates for each partner. Ensure the official duplicate is no older than 90 days at the time of the submission to the Registrar. One thing that might be helpful to know, is that the Registrar the Maticar in Croatian (pronounce that mah-tee-char).

Translate birth certificates into Croatian, and obtain the Apostille seal. Then notarize the document at a local Croatian notary. For your reference, a notary is called a Javni Biljeznik (pronounced yahv-nee-beel-yezh-nik) in Croatian. You might be wondering what an Apostille seal is and if I’ve made a typo. Let’s take a look.

In short, the Apostille seal is an authentication accompanying a signature of a government official that validates government documents such as birth certificates. This is done so that foreign countries that are members of the 1961 Hague Convention Treaty can recognize them. Consider it a federal notarization that confirms validity of your documents that you intend be use in a legally binding agreement that will ensure your marriage is legal. You can use this information to read more on Apostille seals and reach out to your country’s authority if this applies to you.

Passport Copies for the Couple

Create a set of color copies of your passports’ data/photo pages (ensure this includes your signature page), for each partner that will be getting married in Croatia. You can’t be over prepared. In my opinion, you should also consider notarizing these in Croatia. Use a local notary along with your birth certificates, but the notarization is typically unnecessary.

Passport Copies for the Witnesses

Create a set of color copies of your passports’ data/photo pages (ensure this includes your signature page), for each partner getting married in Croatia. Consider notarizing these in Croatia at a local notary along with your birth certificates, but the notarization is typically unnecessary.

Single Status Affidavit

Obtain a Single Status Affidavit for submission to the Registrar. This is a statement each partner writes under oath that states each person is legally available to marry. Different countries have different terms for this. You may hear this referred to as an Affidavit of Single Status, No Impediment to Marriage, Nulla Osta, Letter of Freedom to Marry, Free Matrimonial Status Certificate, Statement of Freedom to Marry, Sworn Statement of Availability to Marry, etc.

This document can be obtained in your home country or in Croatia if you are a US citizen at the US Embassy in Zagreb. If you choose to do this, ensure you allow yourself several days to accommodate scheduling mishaps. This document must subsequently receive authentication by the International Legal Assistance Service of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As with the statement, ensure you allow yourself time to obtain these at these government offices.

Certificate of No Obstacles (in Croatia)

Obtain a certificate of no obstacles for submission to the Registrar. This is a statement specific to Croatian obstacles. In the vast majority of cases, the Single Status Affidavit will suffice, however, if you have any reason to believe there is another obstacle in the way of marriage in Croatia you should contact your Croatian consulate and inquire prior to the day you are trying to get married in Croatia.

Divorce Decree/Death Certificate

One additional document that couples commonly overlook is the Divorce Decree or Death Certificate for individuals that at one time had a previous marriage. An original of this document must be available and it must have an Apostille from the country of issuance.

Step 3 – Visit the Registrar & Obtain a Marriage License to Get Married in Croatia

Secure a Court Translator to Translate at the Registrar

If at least one or both of you does not speak Croatian fluently, you must hire a translator. An official court translator must accompany you at the Registrar’s office. While the majority of people speak English, the official activities will take place in the official language of the country, Croatian.

Visit the Registrar

If one or both of you are Croatian residents, you must both visit the Registrar 30-45 days prior to the wedding date together. If neither of you are residents, your wedding planner can do this step for you following the same timing. You will need to declare your intent to marry and file for your marriage license. You will need to submit your documents and for the details you identified in Step 1. If one partner is Croatian, he or she will submit their proof of identity and their Croatian citizenship. If both partners are not Croatian, both partners will submit the documents collected above in Step 2.

Pay the Registrars Marriage License fee

Your payment will cover two items. The first is the document review for the marriage application. The second is the time in front of the magistrate for the actual civil ceremony.

Obtain the Marriage License

You will receive a paper copy that will you will sign the day of the wedding. Ensure you keep this in a safe place and available on the date of the wedding.

Confirm Your Wedding Date

Ensure you confirm the date you plan to get married in Croatia with the Registrar’s office. If you plan to marry at a location other than the Registrar’s office, you will need to make additional arrangements to secure an officiant from the Registrar’s office. They will help you with this at the office.

Step 4 – Arrange for a Court Interpreter

Secure a Court Interpreter for Your Wedding

If one partner does not speak Croatian fluently, a court interpreter must be present at the Registrar’s office or at your off-site wedding location. This is a legal requirement and can be via with Registrar’s office using their list of English speaking Sworn Court Interpreters.

Step 5 – Get Married in Croatia

Attend Your Ceremony

It goes without saying that you need to be present at your ceremony, but to confirm, no marriage is legally binding without the actual ceremony itself. The documents and marriage license are not sufficient to create a legal marriage. After the marriage, the Office of the Registrar will provide you with your marriage certificate.

makarska riviera city hall for wedding ceremony

Non-Legally Binding Religious Ceremonies

Couples choosing to have a religious ceremony do so for personal reasons. In Croatia, there are many religious ceremonies taking place across a wide variety of faiths. The most common is the Catholic ceremony, the predominant religion of Croatia. It is best to start with the religious institution in which you wish to marry and ask for specific requirements. Across Croatia there are small variances even for the same religion. You are most likely to find variances in smaller less touristic cities.

Documents and Requirements for a Catholic Religious Church Ceremony

Reach Out to the Parish in Which You Wish to Marry

Speak to the local priest and declare your wishes. The priest will advise you of the requirements for that specific parish and region along with the time frame in which you need to work. Typically, you should start this process approximately 12 months in advance of the wedding. Be sure to mention to the priest whether you will also have a civil ceremony in Croatia.

Reach Out to Your Local Parish for a Discharge Certificate

Reach out to show your respect to your local parish and informing the priest of your wish to marry outside your regular church, the Croatian church will ask for written permission from your local Parish allowing you to marry outside your country of residence.

Original Baptismal Certificates

As a Catholic, your first sacrament was when you received your baptism. Baptism falls under the Sacraments of Initiation. The church in Croatia will ask you for your baptismal certificate as a prerequisite to receiving your matrimonial sacrament, which falls under Sacraments of Service. Ensure your baptismal certificates are originals and provide these to the Croatian church. You can retrieve it from the church in which you had your baptism by simply contacting them.

Proof of “Single” Status Making You Free to Marry

This is the same requirement that is (see above for civil ceremonies: step 2, no. 4). As stated for civil ceremonies: obtain a Single Status Affidavit for submission to the Registrar. This is a statement by each partner, under oath that states each person is legally available to marry. Different countries have different terms for this. You may hear this referred to as an Affidavit of Single Status, No Impediment to Marriage, Nulla Osta, Letter of Freedom to Marry, Free Matrimonial Status Certificate, Statement of Freedom to Marry, Sworn Statement of Availability to Marry, etc.

This document can be obtained in your home country or in Croatia if you are a US citizen at the US Embassy in Zagreb. If you choose to do this, ensure you allow yourself several days to accommodate scheduling mishaps. This document must subsequently receive authentication by the International Legal Assistance Service of the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As with the statement, ensure you allow yourself time to obtain these at these government offices.

Pre-Marriage Course Completion Certificate

Almost without exception, the Catholic Church expects all couples preparing for marriage to complete a pre-marriage course. Upon completion, these courses issue a certificate which the Croatian Catholic Church will require.

Secure a Court Interpreter for Your Wedding

If one partner does not speak Croatian fluently, a court interpreter must be present at the Registrar’s office or at your off-site wedding location. This is a legal requirement and can be via with Registrar’s office using their list of English speaking Sworn Court Interpreters.

Secure an Apostille

An apostille with an authentication seal and signature may be of need as a way to confirm validity of any government issued documents. They are not a typical request, however, should a church require a birth certificate, an apostille must be included.

Dubrovnik Croatia old city

And that, my friends, is that, except for Covid-19. If you would like to read more about the Covid-19 situation is in relation to Corona restrictions, read my Croatia Wedding Covid Restrictions article. That has up-to-date information on everything you need to know relating to Corona virus in Croatia for 2021.

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