Getting married in Switzerland
9th November 2011, 1 comment
Falling in love is often the easy part. To get married in Switzerland, however, you'll need to find your way through the bureaucratic maze to wedlock.
Before getting married in Switzerland, there are certain Swiss legal requirements that you need to attend to in order to ensure that your marriage in Switzerland will be valid in the eyes of the law. This is particularly important when marrying in a foreign country. Marriage is a binding contract; taking this important step changes your status and once you have entered into the contract, it involves a costly procedure to change its basis.
Only civil marriages are legally recognised in Switzerland. Civil marriage ceremonies take place at a registry office. If you want a religious ceremony, you may plan one to follow the civil ceremony in Switzerland.
Preparing for your marriage in Switzerland
The engaged couple must submit the necessary documents to their local registry office, or to the Swiss representation if they live abroad. The registry office of the bride or groom's place of residence in Switzerland is responsible (or when the couple lives abroad, the register office of the place where the wedding is to take place). To find a local registry office, check the list of registry offices below.
The engaged couple needs to fill in the 'Marriage preparation' application form at the registry office. They must personally declare before the registrar (or before the Swiss representation) that they meet all the requirements for the marriage. From 1 January 2011, engaged couples of foreign nationality living in Switzerland and wishing to get married in Switzerland must also prove that they are legal residents of Switzerland. The registrar reviews the application and notifies the engaged couple in writing whether or not the marriage can be concluded. This will take about five weeks to allow for the publication of bans (this is the public announcement of a couples intention to marry and allows for objections to be lodged).
Required documents for getting married in Switzerland
Non-Swiss citizens should ask their local Registry Office for information and a detailed list of the documents needed for the marriage application. The following documents will almost certainly be needed.
- Photo ID (drivers' licence or passport)
- Notarised affidavit stating current address and marital status (single, divorced or widowed)
- Birth Certificate (certified copy in German, French or Italian) showing the names of the parents. This should not be the original, but one issued no more than six months before the planned marriage
- If previously married: a certified copy of the final divorce decree, or death certificate of the former spouse
- A completed marriage request form available from the Registry Office
Foreign nationals who cannot meet the normal requirements may be granted permission to marry based on the national law of either of the couple. This should be applied for with the Cantonal Registrar supervisory authority. There may be a charge for this.
The marriage ceremony in Switzerland
If the engaged couple wish to get married somewhere other than the place for where the marriage documents are being processed, they must ask the registrar who processed the documents for an authorisation to celebrate the wedding in the commune of their choice.
In any case, the marriage must take place at the earliest ten days and at the latest three months after the marriage authorisation is granted. The civil wedding is a public ceremony held at the register office in the presence of two adult witnesses who have the capacity to consent. The spouses and witnesses must sign a document to record the marriage in the civil status register. On completion of the ceremony, the registrar hands the married couple their family record document and, if the spouses so wish, the marriage certificate, which is subject to a fee. The ceremony cannot take place on a Sunday or a public holiday.
A religious ceremony or blessing can be held following the civil ceremony. Proof of legal marriage must be shown using the marriage certificate.
The Registry Office (Etat Civil) issues official documents on request. The website of the relevant Etat Civil provides information on how to contact the registry office and/or request the official documents.
Family name after marriage
Under Swiss law, the couple takes the name of the husband as their surname (or family name). The wife may decide to keep her own name but only if hyphenated or followed by her husband's name. The married couple may take the woman's maiden name, although this must be authorised before the marriage takes place. This is done at the registry office.
Updating your documents in Switzerland
Following marriage, some of the data recorded in the documents held by the spouses is no longer accurate and needs to be updated. The documents to be amended are:
- driving licence
- ID card
- certificate of origin, if this has been deposited with / surrendered to the residents' registration office.
Registry offices in Switzerland
Zivilstandsamt, Rittergasse 11, 4051 Basel
Tel: 061 267 95 90
Zivilstandsamt Kreis Bern, Bümplizstrasse 97, 3018 Berne
Tel: 031 387 38 38
Etat civil, 37, rue de la Mairie, 1207 Genève
Tel: 022 418 66 50
Etat civil, 8, rue Beau-Séjour, 1003 Lausanne (by appointment only)
Tel: 021 315 29 82
At: Ufficio dello Stato Civile, Palazzo Civico, Piazza Riforma, 6900 Lugano
Tel: 091 800 70 33
Zivilstandsamt, Obergrundstrasse 1, 6003 Luzern
Tel: 041 208 81 11
Canton of Vaud
Zivilstandsamt Zurich, Molkenstrasse 5/9, 8022 Zürich
Tel: 044 412 31 50
Zivilstandsamt Kreis Zug, Kolinplatz 19, 6300 Zug
Tel: 041 728 15 15
Switzerland's official web portal ch.ch / Expatica
The Swiss portal ch.ch is the national gateway to Switzerland. It is Switzerland's electronic business card and the main point of access to online information from the federal government, the cantons and local authorities in German, French, Italian, Romansh and English.
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1 comment on this article Add a comment
14th March 2012, 13:25:44 Lucie Pilliard posted:You are looking to get married in Switzerland but do not know where to start. Bliss event