Wedding Planning in Italy – Part 1 of 9: Legal Paperwork

written by Tiana Kai
Getting Married In Florence Italy at the Sala Rossa

Getting married in Florence sounds romantic right? Well, the paperwork is not.

My story below may help you out if you’re looking to marry in Italy, even more so if you are an American marrying an Italian in Florence or Fiesole, AND if it’s your first wedding. I gathered all the necessary paperwork once I was in Italy, but most do a better job at planning before they leave their country of origin.

If you opt for a religious ceremony, these steps will only be helpful once you have the needed paperwork from your church. It can be a longer road to have a religious ceremony, so be prepared.

*Keep in mind that the following info is based on my own personal circumstances between May 2012 and July 2012. You may be required to do more or less of what is listed below. I wanted to share this process because it was not an easy one. I felt like I was running in circles at times, so I hope you can use this as a helpful guide to cross reference against whatever else you have read or heard. Good luck!

Step 1 – Get Documents

Before I left Miami I checked with the Italian Consulate and they gave me a list of items that I needed before requesting a wedding date at Florence’s Comune (City Hall) in Palazzo Vecchio, in the heart of Piazza della Signoria. Once I arrived in Italy, I went to the U.S. Consulate in Florence to pick up their list of items I needed as an American marrying in Italy.
Here’s what you need:

Passport

Make sure your passport is up to date and won’t expire within the next year. If you need to apply for one or renew it, visit the U.S. Dept. of State.

Birth Certificate

If you don’t have this, stop and go to the CDC’s website to see how to request your vital records from your birth state. Make sure to request a few copies. I only needed the original to show the U.S. Consulate, but you never know who is going to ask, and when.

The Italian Consulate in Miami said they needed the certificate to be translated in Italian, but no one asked for a translation once I was in Italy, so I would not bother translating it unless absolutely mandated by the Comune you are dealing with.

Nulla Osta
Claims that there are no obstacles in getting married

  • It’s a sheet of paper that I got from the U.S. Consulate in Florence. You will need: your passport, birth certificate and $50 cash or credit. Once signed, they will stamp it. You MUST sign it in front of a U.S. Consulate rep. Make an appointment here.
  • Go to a Tabacchi and purchase a 14.62euro marca da bollo.
  • Authenticate the Nulla Osta at Prefettura. I didn’t need to make an appointment. I just went when they were open.
  • Save this document for Comune.

Atto Notorio
An oath that there are no legal impediments to the marriage

  • If you have the luxury of time, go to the Pretura (Lower Court House) or Palazzo di Giustizia (Justice Building) to request one. It can take up to five months to get an appointment.
  • If you need the doc sooner than five months or even in a week, hire a Notary to do it for you. It can range up to 600euros.
  • I bought four 14.62euro stamps for the four original docs I requested from the Notary.
  • You will need two witnesses over 18 and a translator if they don’t understand Italian. The witnesses must know the couple, but cannot be related.
  • Save this document for Comune.

Step 2 – Go to Comune in the district in which you plan to marry

Make an appointment

If Comune does not answer the phone, then go in person.

Publicize your intent to marry

If you’re marrying an Italian you’ll need to sign a form that will publicize your intent to marry. It’s an old law to ensure that neither party is already married. Comune will post it online for two consecutive Sundays. You cannot get married in Florence until the publication period is over.

If you and your partner are foreigners (not Italian, nor residing in Italy) then you must appear three days before the ceremony.

Civil or religious ceremony

State whether you will marry in Comune or off-site, religious or civil. They’ll need all paperwork associated with the priest or clergyman.

Specify wedding location

If you marry in Comune you don’t pay a fee, unless you marry during their ‘irregular hours’. You basically get an appointment time once you state the wedding date, IF there are any available slots. The wedding room in Florence is the famous Sala Rossa, ornate, beautiful and very Italian, but they don’t allow rice throwing within the building (Palazzo Vecchio). The wedding room in Fiesole is not as impressive, it looks a bit dismal, but the location is sweet and more private.

If you marry offsite, like me, you need to ensure that the location is in the same jurisdiction as the Comune you’re dealing with. Since we planned everything within five weeks, we initially thought we wanted to marry in Sala Rossa, but we (as in ‘I’) always had our hearts on an outdoor location in Fiesole. So, we had the Comune in Florence transfer our paperwork to the Comune in Fiesole.

Dei Beni

Under Italian law you will be asked to choose between separazione dei beni or comunione dei beni.

  • Separazione dei beni is what about 90% of Italians sign. It declares that each spouse is the sole owner of their property before and after the wedding.
  • Comunione dei beni states that the couple, both equally, owns all acquired items purchased after the wedding. This also includes savings and debt, plus more, but this is the gist of it.

Step 3 – Get married in Florence

  • Ensure that all paperwork is wrapped up
  • If you are marrying off-site, ensure that the clergyman has handled all his paperwork
  • Confirm everything from the wedding planner, to location, to flowers
  • Share your vows and party

Step 4 – Post wedding paperwork

If married in Comune, they should handle all paperwork and will provide next steps for you.

If married off-site, the priest or clergyman must send the wedding certificates that you, your spouse and witnesses signed to the Comune to register it.

For the marriage to be registered in the U.S., you must take it to Prefettura of the city where you were married. Request an Apostille on the wedding certificate, in order to be used for legal purposes in the States.

If the certificate is in Italian, you will need to pay about 50euro to have it translated. Ask the U.S. Consulate, an Attorney or a Notary to perform the translation.

Deliver the legalized, translated wedding certificate to the U.S. Consulate for registration.

Step 5 – Italian residency – ‘soggiorno per motivi di famiglia’

Collect paperwork and wait in line at Questura

  • 4 passport photos
  • 14.62euro marca da bollo
  • Copy of your passport and actual passport
  • Copy of your spouse’s passport and actual passport
  • Marriage certificate stamped from Comune and legalized by Prefettura (must be in Italian)
  • Copy of this paper Questura di Firenze

Questura took my paperwork and told me to return in 40 days, which will be next week. I am looking to gain residency and will then look into Italian Citizenship. I have read that Citizenship can take up to two years while living in Italy and three years if living abroad. I will update my blog with further information as time goes by. Good luck if you are in my same situation!

Lessons Learned

  • don’t always believe what you hear the first time
  • ask the same questions until you get repeated information
  • have a few copies of your passport and a 14.62euro marca da bollo ready just in case
  • no one answers the phone, so go in person and wait
  • request as many as 4-5 copies of everything
  • if you, your partner or witnesses don’t understand Italian, ask if you need a translator at every step up until the wedding day
  • this process was a great way to get acquainted with the Italian system – it was frustrating, but in the end I had to learn to accept how things are run, even though it seems as though rules change all the time
  • better be safe then sorry, so carry your passport at every appointment

Contact information

Consulate General of Italy in Miami
4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd. #590, Coral Gables, FL 33146
(305) 374.6322 ex. 214
www.consmiami.esteri.it
notarile.miami@esteri.it

Consulate General of the U.S.A in Florence
Lungarno A. Vespucci 38, Firenze, IT 50123
+39.055.266.951
http://florence.usconsulate.gov
Make an appointment here (for the Consulate in Florence)
http://italy.usembassy.gov located in Milan, Florence and Naples
uscitizensflorence@state.gov

Comune di Firenze City Hall
Palazzo Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria 1
+39.055.27681
+39.055.26241

Questura di Firenze Immigration
Via della Fortezza 17
+39.055.49771
Monday to Thursday at 8.15am, must show up and wait in line

Prefettura di Firenze
Via A. Giacomini 8
+39.055.278.3564
+39.055.278.3562
Monday to Friday 9am-11am or Thursday 2pm-4pm

Pretura Circondariale di Firenze Lower Court House
Piazza San Martino 2
+39.055.264271, ask for room 30

Palazzo di Giustizia Court House
Viale Guidoni 61, 3rd floor (2nd floor for Americans), room 102
+39.055.7996510
Monday to Friday 9am-12pm or Tuesday 3pm-5pm
rossella.ciaffardini@giustizia.it

Passport from U.S. Government
Apply or renew for a U.S. passport
http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

Centers for Desease Control & Prevention
Request a certified copy of your birth certificate
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm 

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18 comments

Niccolò Brogi September 4, 2012 at 2:30 am

That was a lot of fun…

😉

Reply
Emily McGee September 4, 2012 at 7:15 am

Oh my, I thought wedding paperwork in the U.S. was complicated, but this is out of control! I’m glad it all worked out for you, and I’m looking forward to reading more in your series about wedding planning in Italy (especially the part about cake!).

Reply
Tiana Kai September 4, 2012 at 9:50 am

Nicco, I couldn’t have done any of it without you! xo

Reply
Tiana Kai September 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks Emily! Oh, ya, the cake was amazing – nice, simple, 3 tiered for extra good luck with a special cake topper… 😉 I will reveal pix later this week. The wedding day was a great distraction from all the paperwork! lol.

Reply
Tania September 4, 2012 at 10:08 am

this one was really useful 😉

Reply
Amber September 4, 2012 at 10:10 am

Love your blog T!

Reply
Tiana Kai September 4, 2012 at 10:14 am

Tania, thanks! It was crazy! I was running like a crazy woman for a month trying to get married! Glad it worked out. Lots more to share this week!

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Tiana Kai September 4, 2012 at 10:15 am

Thanks Amber!! It has been a blast putting things in words and pix for everyone.

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Tania K September 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Tiana! have you changed your lastname?

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Tania K September 8, 2012 at 10:44 pm

would love to subscribe to the comments under the posts which i comment but it seems to be no way for that right?

Reply
Tiana Kai September 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Tania, women don’t change their names here. This is a topic I was going to write about later this month. I find it odd, but it’s kinda cool that women keep their identity in their name. I like my last name, but then again, I use my first and middle more often (Tiana Kai) then my last name.

I am still figuring this tech stuff out. I had a plug-in for comments, but it didn’t allow Facebook comments to post on the blog, so I am using WordPress’s basic commenting system. I need to see how to subscribe and implement it soon! 🙂

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Bonnie Marie October 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Hey Tania! This post is useful only for a US CITIZEN MARRYING AN ITALIAN CITIZEN IN ITALY. The paperwork for bride and groom who are both US citizens and who do not reside in Italy (that is, most of the Americans who come over for a destination Wedding in Italy) is VERY DIFFERENT and MUCH LESS!

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Tiana Kai October 28, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Yup, which was mentioned in the first main paragraph. This was my personal take. I think it is at least safe to say that anyone getting married here has to keep their eyes open and carry lots of copies of their headshot and their passport.

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Grace February 20, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Well, I decided to hire an italian wedding planner and everything is almost done!! She’s taking away all of the stress!

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Tiana Kai February 21, 2014 at 2:54 pm

Great! If the wedding planner can get all your papers for you, even better!

We hired a wedding planner to find a reverend so we were able to get married anywhere and at any time. So worth it! She took care of the paperwork so that it was admitted to the Comune making it legal.

Wedding planners aren’t attorneys so I had to figure a few legal things out with Questura. It all worked out!

Good luck with your wedding and most importantly your marriage! 🙂

Reply
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