• Dr I L Vlad

How to get married in a Romanian Embassy: unique guide

Last update: September 2018.

Are you looking to get married in a Romanian Embassy? If you only read one document, read this! Our guide will show you all the documents you need, and the procedures to go through, so that your Romanian embassy marriage is a memorable experience, free of administrative glitches. Your marriage will be recognized in Romania and abroad too.

01 Marriage in a Romanian Embassy: the basics

Which Embassies are open for marriages?

Romania has 92 Embassies on all continents, as well as 37 General Consulates. For our purposes, we will call them all 'Embassies' to simplify. The entire list of Romanian diplomatic and consular missions, with their continent, country and city, is available here.

Marriage is not available at Vice Consulates, Consular Offices, Permanent Missions, and Honorary Consulates. Marriage is also not available in some Embassies and General Consulates, due to the restrictions imposed by the host country (for example, Switzerland). It is always important to verify verbally in advance whether the Embassy or General Consulate where you plan to marry has this service available.

If marriage is not available at the Embassy or General Consulate of your choice, your options are:

-> marrying in Romania;

-> marrying in any other country;

-> marrying at the Embassy or Consulate of the country of citizenship of the other spouse.

Romania has a civil law system, and according to its Constitution, civil marriage is the only legally valid form. This means that any kind of religious marriage is not valid. You can celebrate your marriage according to your rites only after you have concluded the civil marriage ceremony (there is a criminal penalty for the minister of religion for not respecting this rule).

Exceptionally, if both spouses are Romanian citizens (although it is not necessary to be exclusively so - they can have multiple citizenship), they may marry on a ship flying the Romanian flag on the high seas. Romania is one of the few countries which allow the captain of a ship to perform marriages, which are then legally valid. However, we repeat, these marriages are open only to couples where both spouses are Romanian citizens! If you have foreign citizenship, you must first obtain Romanian citizenship, and then get married on a ship. If you have any questions about this fascinating way to get married just write an e-mail to us.

Who can get married in a Romanian Embassy?

Romania opens its marriages to anyone, regardless of faith, color or citizenship. But marriage in a Romanian Embassy is only available if:

-> at least one spouse is a Romanian citizen (must not necessarily have just the Romanian citizenship); and

-> the Romanian spouse (if both are Romanian citizens, then one of them) must be domiciled or resident in the consular circumscription of the Embassy (or General Consulate).

Definitions:

Domicile is the place where the person has their main habitation, with the intent on remaining there. For the Romanian citizen (the only one for whom it counts), it is proven with the Passport for Romanian Citizens Domiciled Abroad, also known as 'CRDS').

Residence is the place where the person currently lives with some degree of stability. For the Romanian citizen, it is proven with various local (not Romanian) documents, depending on the country. The full list, country by country, is here.

Consular circumscription, also known as consular jurisdiction is the city, province, state, country or group of countries where the Embassy or Consulate exercises its mission. This is not always very straightforward (or set up with any thinking behind it), and more likely it is the result of pure and utter bureaucracy. A silly example is that Alaska falls in the consular jurisdiction of the Embassy in Washington, DC, whereas there are General Consulates on the West Coast. Make sure you select the right Embassy, because they are very strict about this. How to find out? Go to this page and select the country where you would like to get married. There are three possibilities:

a. There is one Embassy - that Embassy is competent;

b. There is one Embassy and several General Consulates. Check their pages (links provided in the main page) and find the state / province where you would like to get married. If in doubt ask us;

c. There is no Embassy. In this case, see the text which says 'reprezentarea diplomatica este asigurata de Ambasada Romaniei la [name of city]'. The city shows the location of the competent Embassy.

At this time, however, Romania only allows heterosexual, monogamous marriages. Therefore, one cannot legally conclude a homosexual marriage, nor a second marriage if already married, in Romania. There is also no form of registered partnership under Romanian law, and foreign ones are not recognized. This means that a person who is in a same-sex marriage contracted abroad, or in a registered partnership (whether homosexual or heterosexual) contracted abroad, may marry in Romania without any bar, because the existing marriage or partnership is not recognized.

The following personal conditions also apply for a legally valid marriage:

-> both future spouses must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind, and have no incurable, communicable diseases. This is proven with the medical certificate regarding the state of health, which is specially issued by any family doctor, and is valid 14 days from the date of issue. Therefore, it comes late in the planning process. There is a legal obligation of each spouse to communicate to the other the state of their health.

-> both future spouses must be single, widowed or divorced.

02 The marriage file: documents needed

The marriage file is submitted to the Embassy, with 10-13 days before marriage. It comprises the following documents:

1. The declaration of marriage, which is filled in personally, by the future spouses, at the Embassy, and contains the wish to marry;

2. The document of identity. This is:

-> for Romanian citizens, the Passport, supplemented by proof of residence (see above), or Passport for Romanians domiciled abroad;

-> for citizens of European Union member states, plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, their national identity card or Passport;

-> for citizens of any other country, their Passport, containing the visa or entry stamp to the relevant country. If a visa is needed, it must be valid both at the time when you submit the file, as well as on the projected date of marriage;

-> for stateless persons, the Passport issued on the basis of the 1954 Convention regarding the status of Stateless Persons;

-> for persons benefiting of a form of protection (refugees or similar), the travel document issued on the basis of the 1951 Geneva Convention or the document for persons benefiting from subsidiary protection or conditional humanitarian protection.

The following are not accepted: the temporary identity document for asylum applicants bearing the mention 'declared identity'; the document proving the status of a tolerated person; the decision of return (for rejected asylum applicants). For other unusual cases, check with the Embassy or contact us.

3. The proof of ending the previous marriage, for Romanian citizens (for foreign citizens see below). This is any of the following:

-> the definitive divorce sentence, in the form of a copy legalized by the court which issued it, with the 'definitive' stamp applied. For Romanian citizens, if they divorced abroad, the divorce has to be recognized first by a Romanian court. We are here to help with this as well. Just write us an e-mail. If the foreign divorce document was non-contentious, you can use our smart form, branch K - Recognition of foreign non-contentious judgments.

-> the divorce certificate issued by the notary public or the town hall in Romania, for divorces by agreement which were undertaken at the notary or the civil status office;

-> the marriage certificate from the previous marriage and the death certificate of the previous spouse. If produced abroad, these must also be transcribed first in Romania. We can help with this. Just use our smart form, branch J - Transcription of foreign civil status.

If you can't find any of these, we are here to help! Just use our smart form and select branch B - Marriage Certificate, D - Death Certificate or H - Notary and Judicial Records, respectively. If you need more than one, just put in as many inquiries as needed.

4. The birth certificate of each spouse, in original and photocopy. If you can't find it, we can help here as well! Just use our smart form and select branch A - Birth Certificate, for Romanian ones. For records from abroad, try either our smart form (for a limited number of countries), or the embassy of your country.

5. The medical certificate issued by a generalist practitioner (can be the family doctor), stating expressly that each future spouse may or may not marry. This is valid only 14 days, so you need to get it immediately before submitting the marriage declaration.

6. Foreign citizens of countries which allow (either nationally or by ethnic group or province) polygamy, must also give a notary declaration that they are not already married.

7. Foreign citizens must also produce a Certificate of No Impediment. This takes various forms, the point being to have an official declaration that you are free to marry according to your national law. It can be either:

-> a proof issued by the diplomatic or consular mission of your country attesting that the material conditions for marriage, according to your law, are fulfilled;

-> a declaration authenticated by a public notary that you do not know of any legal reason which might obstruct the marriage, but only for citizens who cannot obtain any other document;

-> a recent (issued at most 3 months before) document issued by the national authorities of your state, or one which has a validity limit inscribed, to the same effect, but only for citizens of states with which Romania has legal assistance treaties in civil matters. You can find a list of examples here.

Citizens of the following countries must follow these special rules:

1. Switzerland: must present a 'Certificate of matrimonial capacity' issued at home, with an Apostille and legally translated into Romanian (see below);

2. The Czech Republic: must present the 'Civil Status Certificate' issued at home, and legally translated into Romanian (see below);

3. Germany: must present the 'Certificate of capacity to marry' issued at home, with an Apostille and legally translated into Romanian (see below);

4. Moldova: must present the 'Certificate of Civil Status' issued by the Ministry of Informational Development of Moldova, or the certificate issued by the consular missions of Moldova, without any other formality;

5. Ukraine: must present a declaration on their own responsibility, authenticated by the Ukraine Embassy or Consulate, or by the Romanian Notary, confirming they are not married;

6. Bosnia and Herzegovina: must present a 'certificate of custom' issued at home, legally translated into Romanian (see below);

7. Israel: must present the extract of civil status or extract from the population register, either being issued by the Interior Ministry of Israel, with an Apostille, and legally translated into Romanian (see below).

Any foreign document must respect the following conditions:

A. Multilingual Extracts can be used without any formality. See our blog post about Multilingual Extracts. For Multilingual Extracts from abroad, try www.vitalrecords.biz or the embassy of your country;

B. In every other case (except documents from Moldova, written in Romanian), it must be legally translated into Romanian. We can help here. Just use our smart form, branch M - Legal Translations;

C. If it is from one of the countries in the List of Exemptions, it can be presented with the translation alone, without further formality;

D. If it is not in the List of Exemptions, but issued in a country which is a party to the 1961 Apostille Convention, it must bear the Apostille, and then be translated. The list of countries which are a party is here. Note that Apostilles from Kosovo are not recognized by Romania. Did you forget to Apostille your document? Try www.vitalrecords.biz, which provides Apostilles for a large number of countries, or the embassy of your country;

E. If none of the above applies, then you have to obtain an international Legalization, and then translate the document. This article explains exactly how that is done.

Foreign citizens who do not speak Romanian must be attended, both when filing the marriage declaration, and on the day of marriage, by a Legal Interpreter, authorized by the Ministry of Justice or selected locally by the Embassy. Be careful because these interpreters are hard to find in some places. For example, the Hong Kong General Consulate has none at present. You will need to discuss with the Embassy and make a firm contract in advance.

Translators are the ones who translate documents. We do that. Interpreters are the ones who assist you in speaking (live translation). They need to be contacted individually as shown above.

03 The surname of the spouses: options available

Traditionally, in Romania, the wife took the surname of the husband. This ancient, backward and unequal practice is slowly (too slowly) going the way of the Dodo, and for good reason! Accordingly, the law has provided for several options. You must declare your option when you submit the marriage declaration. The options are:

1. Both spouses choose the surname of one of them (either the husband or the wife);

2. Each spouse keeps their own surname (i.e. nothing changes);

3. Both spouses take their reunited surnames (i.e., hyphenated surnames);

4. One spouse keeps the original surname and the other adds the other's surname, thus becoming hyphenated (e.g. Gratiela Popescu and Jack Smith-Popescu).

Your choice has important ramifications down the line, such as the names of the children, or the way you are known in society. However, there is one very practical and immediate effect. From the day of your marriage, the personal documents of the Romanian spouse (and usually the foreign spouse as well) who changed surname are not valid anymore. This means everything! Passport, identity card, driver's licence, credit cards etc. See the big warning sign down below as well.

-> Article continues below

Romanian Embassy Plaque

Typical Plaque of a Romanian Embassy

04 The most important deal in your life: the matrimonial regime

What is the matrimonial regime?

The matrimonial regime is the set of rules which governs the division of wealth and debts within your marriage. There are some very basic rules which are immutable, for example that each spouse has economic autonomy (i.e. cannot be forced to choose a job, can have own bank accounts), that each spouse is entitled to periodically know the full economic situation of the other (including 'forgotten' properties or bank accounts), or the protection of the family home (i.e. the home where the children live - if there are any - may not be sold, or the tenancy terminated, by one spouse without the agreement of the other, regardless who owns it).

What are the options?

The legal default option is the 'community of property' regime. This means, in short:

-> all assets that each spouse owns before marriage remain individual assets;

-> all assets acquired for consideration (such as purchases or exchanges) during marriage become shared. The unfortunate legal tradition, brought over in the new Civil Code, means that the shares are not pre-determined. Therefore, surprises beckon. Theoretically, the share is determined at the end of marriage according to the contribution of each spouse. However, this is very hard to prove;

-> all assets acquired without consideration (such as gifts, or compensation) belong to the one who received them.

If you are ok with this regime, then you may declare so in the marriage declaration.

The second option is the regime of conventional community. This is like the legal community, but you can decide that some assets, or classes of assets (like a house or houses in general) should remain individually owned, or that the shared assets should have pre-determined shares like 50-50. The possibilities are quite complex.

The third option is the regime of separation of assets. This means, in short:

-> all assets that each spouse owns before marriage remain individual assets;

-> all assets acquired during marriage are also individual assets, of the one who acquired them;

-> assets acquired together have pre-determined shares, so everyone knows which percentage of each asset they own at any particular time.

An optional extra clause to the separation regime is the 'participation in acquisitions' clause. This means, in short, that, on ending the marriage, the spouse who earned more must give to the other spouse half the difference between the net increase in wealth of either spouse. Example: A enters the marriage with EUR 100,000 net wealth, and B with 90,000 net wealth. A exits the marriage with EUR 150,000 net wealth (a gain of 50,000), and B with EUR 160,000 net wealth (a gain of 70,000). B must give A EUR 10,000 (half the difference between 70,000 and 50,000).

When must we choose?

The choice must be made at least once, when you submit the marriage declaration. If you wish to choose any regime other than the default, you need to have made in advance a matrimonial contract at a notary public (preferably in Romania or the country of the other spouse's citizenship), and bring the photocopy to the Embassy. For the default, your simple declaration suffices.

If you wish to change the regime during marriage, you may do so at any time, through a matrimonial contract at a notary public in Romania or the country of the other spouse's citizenship.

Special rules for international couples regarding matrimonial regimes

An unusual feature of matrimonial regimes is that they are dynamic and part of the area of individual autonomy in law.

The dynamic character means that if you move your common habitual residence to another country, even if you both have the same citizenship, the matrimonial regime changes: it becomes the default regime of your new country of residence. Beware because the world is full of odd, unusual and unsuspected rules in this field.

The individual autonomy means that couples with an international link (either one of the spouses has foreign citizenship, or they decide to change residence to another country) may choose not only their matrimonial regime, but the entire system of law which governs their marriage. Example: if you are a Romanian and a French citizen, you may exit completely the constraints of the Romanian legal system, and choose French law as applicable to your marriage. This is an awesome power! Among other things, it lets you deal more easily with creditors, protect your assets, have special rules regarding inheritance etc. As with any awesome power, it should be used with wisdom.

We are here to help! Our attorney office is specialized in international families, and therefore can advise you on the pros and cons of choosing one particular matrimonial regime, and, in complex cases, building the architecture of your and your family's wealth for the future. Just write us an e-mail and we will propose an individual consultation. It is one of the only two areas where Dr Ioan-Luca Vlad gives bespoke, individual consultations (the other is international estate planning).

05 The 10 day waiting period

After you have filed for marriage, you must wait 10 days, including the day of filing. Throughout this time, the fact that you are getting married (i.e. your names and dates of birth) will be published in some way. Most Embassies just put the list up on a door. Some put it up online. In any case, theoretically anyone with a legal interest may file an opposition to your marriage. In practice, unless you have a 'forgotten' spouse, this never happens.

06 The marriage ceremony itself

You can marry legally between the 11th and the 14th day from when you filed for marriage. The ceremony is very simple and straightforward. Couples and a small group of family and friends go in, say the words, get out, and someone calls in the next.

You will need: your identity documents and two witnesses. The witnesses must be 18 years of age or older, and of sound mind. For procedural ease, try choosing Romanian or local (not third-country) citizens with their papers (Passport) in order.

The order of business:

-> the couple enters the designated room or hall, together with the family and friends, and presents their identity documents and those of the two witnesses;

-> the Ambassador or Head of Consular Mission, wearing the tri-color sash representing state authority, asks the following question of each future spouse: 'Citizen ..., do you freely and not forced by anyone take citizen ... in marriage?"

-> each future spouse must answer clearly and loudly. If they do not speak Romanian, the interpreter must be present (see above point 04);

-> once the answers have been given, the Ambassador or Head of Consular Mission then reads a certain extract from the Romanian Constitution and Civil Code dealing with the essential tenets of family life;

-> after the reading, the Ambassador or Head of Consular Mission proclaims the couple married. The spouses and witnesses sign in the marriage register and receive the marriage certificate.

Most couples don't realize this, but if either of the spouses changes their surname, this comes into force on the day of marriage. Immediately after writing the marriage certificate, the Ambassador or Head of Consular Mission takes the Romanian passport or identity card of this spouse and physically destroys it by cutting with scissors! This is usually a shock to most people. It also has very practical implications, namely:

1. The newly wed is left without a valid national identification document, so must spend some time and money to get one fast, via the Embassy;

2. All the other legal documents such as passports, driver's licence etc., but also private things like credit cards, are not valid anymore. You need to get new ones. This is usually the case for foreign citizens as well;

3. International travel is basically impossible, because most airlines do not allow changes of name. However, you can go over this in several ways:

-> organize your honeymoon in the country where you married;

-> obtain a new Romanian passport using the emergency application process via the Embassy;

-> book your travel using the future name, before the marriage (though running the risk of loosing it if something goes wrong).

After the civil marriage ceremony, some couples organize a reception, others go on to celebrate according to their rites as well. In Romania, ministers of religion are not allowed to undertake religious marriages before seeing the civil marriage certificate first.

07 The marriage certificate

The marriage certificate is the document which attests the relationship of marriage. It includes the parentage of each spouse, as well as a mention of the matrimonial regime. If it is not the default one, it is a reference to the notary act establishing it.

You will need your marriage certificate for many things, including:

-> proving the parentage of your children;

-> proving your entitlement to represent your spouse in various administrative situations, like collecting a pension if they can't move out of the house, or asking for medical help in their name;

-> proving your right to inheritance;

-> registering your home as a family home, protected by law;

-> getting your marriage recognized abroad (see below).

Did you loose your marriage certificate? Don't worry! We are here to help. Just use the smart form, branch B - Marriage Certificate.

08 Getting your marriage recognized abroad

If you are a foreign citizen who has married in a Romanian Embassy, you will need to have your marriage recognized abroad in your own country. Countries fall into three big categories from this point of view:

A. Countries which request the 'transcription' of your marriage in their own civil status records (like Romania does), in order to be recognized;

B. Countries which allow, but do not require, the registration of your marriage with their authorities (the United Kingdom is an example), requiring just the properly authenticated Romanian marriage certificate to recognize the marriage; and

C. Countries which do not allow, nor require any such registration, where you prove your marriage only with the properly authenticated Romanian marriage certificate.

If in doubt, you can check with your embassy, or drop us an e-mail.

In every case, the Romanian marriage certificate will have to be in one of the following forms:

A. The original with a legal translation, for countries in this list.

B. The form of a Multilingual Extract, for countries which are parties to the Vienna Convention establishing Multilingual Extracts (there are 24 countries). We also provide this. See our blog post and find all about it.

C. The original, with an Apostille, for countries members of the 1961 Apostille Convention. Our Apostille page has all the details.

D. The original, with a Legalization, for every other country. Our Legalization page has all the details.

Don't want to do this yourself? Whatever your situation, we can help! Just use our smart form to order a marriage certificate, and we will tell you what formality you need, and provide it for you as well!

09 One word about the 'family booklet' ('livretul de familie')

The family booklet is an optional document, valid only in Romania, which helps to prove the membership of a family at any time, but only if the family has children. As such, you can order it for free, from the civil status office of the place of your residence in Romania (only if you have such a residence), for you and your entire family, after the birth of your first child. Existing families can order it as well, regardless of the age of the children. If you have misplaced the underlying certificates (birth and marriage certificates for the spouses, birth certificate for the child), we can always help.

This concludes our Getting Married in a Romanian Embassy guide. Stay tuned to this blog, as we will be publishing more useful resources regarding Romanian documents, in English!

Questions? Just write to us and we will be there to help!