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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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
Consulate General of Italy in Miami
4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd. #590, Coral Gables, FL 33146
(305) 374.6322 ex. 214
Consulate General of the U.S.A in Florence
Lungarno A. Vespucci 38, Firenze, IT 50123
Make an appointment here (for the Consulate in Florence)
http://italy.usembassy.gov located in Milan, Florence and Naples
Comune di Firenze City Hall
Piazza della Signoria 1
Questura di Firenze Immigration
Via della Fortezza 17
Monday to Thursday at 8.15am, must show up and wait in line
Prefettura di Firenze
Via A. Giacomini 8
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
Monday to Friday 9am-12pm or Tuesday 3pm-5pm
Passport from U.S. Government
Apply or renew for a U.S. passport
Centers for Desease Control & Prevention
Request a certified copy of your birth certificate