Marrying a Swiss in Switzerland
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Applicable law
Should you decide to marry in Switzerland, Swiss law will apply: you must be over 18 years of age; there must not be a direct line of kinship between you; if one of you is under guardianship, the guardian must give consent.
Should you wish to marry in Switzerland according to the law of your home country, you must provide the Swiss registry office with certification stating that your marriage will be recognized in your home country. Following the inquiry, authorization to marry in Switzerland according to foreign law may also be granted.

Civil and religious marriage
In Switzerland, a civil wedding must be held at the registry office. A religious marriage and its ceremony are optional and may only take place after the civil wedding.

The first step is to contact the authorities:

  • If you are presently living in Switzerland, you need to report to the registry office of your place of residence
  • If you are presently living abroad, you need to report to the Swiss diplomatic representative of your country of residence

You will then be asked to present certain documents to prove that, according to Swiss law, there is nothing to prevent your marriage from taking place.

Documents required from Swiss citizens:

  • Individual civil registry certificate (issued by the registry office of the place of origin)
  • Certificate of permanent establishment or proof of residence (issued by the foreign registration office)

Documents required from foreigners:

  • Proof of residence (official record book for foreigners)
  • Birth certificate indicating parents’ names.
  • Passport or proof of citizenship (issued by the home country)
  • Civil registry papers: certificate of celibacy, decree of divorce or death certificate of spouse

The documents must not date back more than six months. If they are not written in an official Swiss language (German, French or Italian), a certified translation is required.

Once all the required documents are assembled and the registry office has granted marriage authorization, you must sign, together or separately, a promise of marriage. If you still reside in your home country, you may sign this promise of marriage at the Swiss diplomatic representative.

This promise will be very useful in obtaining authorization for residence in Switzerland from the Cantonal Aliens Police for the purpose of marriage. You cannot marry in Switzerland on a tourist visa.

You are granted a three-month period in which to celebrate your wedding once marriage authorization has been given. Passed this period, you must repeat the process from the beginning.

The various emoluments required by the registry office amount to approximately 250 Swiss francs (signature, official family record book, marriage ceremony, marriage certificate). This fee may be as high as 400 or even 1,200 Swiss francs, depending on the home country of the foreign spouse. The registry office maintains a red list of countries producing false documents, consisting mainly of African states, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. These additional fees are justified by the extra research needed to verify documents.

Civil marriage
The civil marriage is public and celebrated in the wedding rooms of the registry office. You must be accompanied by two witnesses who are of age of majority. All parties sign the marriage registry. The civil registrar will then hand you the official family record book and marriage certificate. This marriage certificate grants you the right to celebrate a religious wedding.

Recognition of marriage held abroad
To obtain information on the necessary procedures, contact your country’s consulate in Switzerland directly. The Swiss authorities themselves will not undertake any action to ensure this recognition.

Swiss law affords several options:

  • The fiancé’s surname becomes that of the family.
  • You may submit a request to your Cantonal registry office with a view to obtaining the right to take on the fiancée’s surname as the common family surname. The request will be granted if strong arguments have been presented.
  • The fiancée may keep her maiden name. In this case, it will precede the man’s surname without a hyphen. If this is your choice, you are required to relate your decision to the registry office prior to the wedding. In professional life as in everyday life, the first surname may be used on its own. The fiancé enjoys the same option when the woman’s name is chosen as the surname for the family.

The children always maintain the parents’ common surname.
However, you may, upon special declaration, bear the name prescribed by the law of your country. In this case, the name registered in Switzerland will be identical to that registered in your home country.

Matrimonial regime
You may choose between Swiss law and the law of your home country. This choice must be agreed upon in writing. In the absence of express choice, Swiss marriage law will apply. To obtain information on the governing provisions of marriage, will and estate, as well as divorce law in Switzerland, we advise you to consult this guide published by the Federal Department of Justice and Police.

You will not automatically obtain Swiss citizenship upon marriage. However, a simplified naturalization process may be possible if the following three conditions are met:

  • You have lived in Switzerland for a total of five years;
  • You have resided in Switzerland over the past year;
  • You have been living in common law marriage with a Swiss citizen for the past three years.

As part of Swiss citizenship, you will obtain “droit de cité” from your Swiss spouse, which means that you are established among the canton and the municipality.

For further information, visit our section on naturalization.

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