Marrying a Swiss abroad
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Applicable law
The conditions for the celebration of marriage abroad may differ from one country to another. If there is no treaty between Switzerland and the foreign country, private international law applies. Each country possesses its own private international law, and, as a result, it would hardly be feasible to list all of the specific provisions of each country on this Web site.
Swiss Private International Law (LDIP) advises solely on Swiss recognition conditions relating to marriages held abroad.
Prior to a marriage abroad, you must consult the private international law of the chosen country to find out the conditions to be met and the applicable judicial regulations. This informed outlook will help you choose a solution that best suits your needs. In fact, the applicable matrimonial regime will be the one you will have chosen (written agreement, marriage contract). You may choose between the law of the country in which both of you are residing and the law of the country of which one of you is a citizen. You may modify your selection at any time. In general, if you have not expressed a choice, the law of the country of residence applies. To obtain information on the provisions prescribed by Swiss law, consult the section on “Marrying a Swiss in Switzerland”.

The procedures may differ according to country. We therefore recommend that you contact the appropriate country’s consular or diplomatic representative in Switzerland beforehand to determine exactly which documents are required. As a general rule, the Swiss spouse will be asked to present the following:

  • Birth certificate (issued by the registry office of the birth country)
  • Individual civil registry certificate (registry office of the place of origin)
  • Proof of residence (authorities from the place of residence abroad)
  • Passport or identity card
  • Possibly, a certificate of matrimonial qualification (issued by the registry office of the place of origin), which states that, according to Swiss law, nothing prevents your marriage from taking place. To obtain this certificate, you must provide an authenticated promise of marriage, as well as various other documents (e.g. proof of residence, individual civil registry certificate, official family record book, etc.)

Recognition of marriage
You may obtain recognition of your marriage in Switzerland by contacting the Swiss consulate of the country in which the marriage was held. The consulate will take the necessary action (translation and authentication of the marriage certificate submitted to the Cantonal registry office). Recognition is also possible upon your return to Switzerland. In this case, you will need to provide the Cantonal registry office with a marriage certificate and, if need be, documents to confirm the identity of your spouse (e.g. birth certificate). Following the marriage registration, you will receive an official family record book at your request.
Marriages that take place abroad are recognized in Switzerland, even if the local requirements differ from Swiss procedures. It is immaterial whether the foreign law prescribes a civil or religious marriage or accepts the choice of both forms. A basic condition is, however, that you do not seek to circumvent the grounds for nullity prescribed by Swiss law in your decision to enter into marriage abroad.

If you reside abroad, you cannot commence separation or divorce action in Switzerland unless such action is impossible or not a reasonable request in the foreign country of residence. The Swiss forum is granted in the case in which, for example, the foreign jurisdiction does not permit marriage dissolution or subjects it to extremely strict conditions, or if the foreign authority judgment cannot be delivered within a reasonable timeframe.
Foreign divorce or separation judgments are recognized in Switzerland insofar as they do not infringe on basic Swiss judicial principles.

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