Want to get married in Croatia? If you or your intended is Croatian, this post is for you.
There are two options for getting married in Croatia depending on your personal preference:
- Civil marriage
- Marriage within the faith (“faith” usually meaning Catholicism, but all faiths are recognized)
First, you’ll need to make a few decisions, including:
- Approximate time and location of your wedding
- Who will your witnesses be
- Changes to your last name, if any
Next, visit the Registrar’s Office closest to your registered address in Croatia between 45 and 30 days in advance of your intended wedding date. You will need to declare your intention to be wed. Both future spouses will need to be present. At this time, the administrator will inform you if there are any impediments to your desired date, location and last name.
Each of you will need to provide the Registrar with specific documents before you can be issued a marriage license. Your intended future Croatian spouse will need to submit:
- A document that proves their identity
- A document that proves their citizenship
You, if you are non-Croatian, will need to submit:
- An apostilled original of your birth certificate issued in the country of your birth in accordance with international treaties and conventions and that is notarized and translated into Croatian
- A certificate of free marital status in accordance with international treaties and conventions and translation into Croatian. (It is best you turn to the embassy of your country of origin for this, as requirements may vary from country to country.)
- Example: If a US citizen wishes to marry a Croatian, they may obtain the certificate of free marital status by declaring under oath in front of a consular officer and state that he or she is an American citizen, unmarried, and that a marriage in Croatia will be recognized in the United States. You can obtain this document at the United States Embassy in Zagreb with a US passport. The $50 fee must be paid in cash (dollars or kuna) or by credit card.
- A certificate there are no obstacles to the marriage in the Republic of Croatia, and that the marriage will be recognized in the country of your origin, translated into Croatian. (Usually the certificate that you are not already married in the country of your origin satisfies this requirement as well.)
- A document that proves your identity
- A document that proves your citizenship
In addition, you’ll also need to provide:
- Copies of the passports for your witnesses
- Payment of the marriage license fee (approximately 210 kuna at the time of this post). This fee covers compilation of the minutes of the marriage application and the act of marrying before the magistrate.
- If you do not speak Croatia, you will need to bring an official court translator with you to the Registrar.
Ceremonies for civil marriages are usually performed on the premises of the Registrar’s office. If you wish to be married elsewhere, you will have to pay an additional sum, determined by the distance of your desired location to Registrar’s office, the time of marriage, and whether the date you selected falls onto a working day, Sunday or a holiday.
Getting Married within the Faith
Couples who want to marry within faith will also have to visit the Registrar’s Office.
The same documents required for civil marriages will need to be submitted, but the fee system is somewhat different. The compilation of minutes will cost 70 kn of state stamps (or “državni biljezi” in Croatian). They can be purchased in offices of Croatian financial services called “FINA”, in post offices and on “TISAK” news stands. Additionally, 20 kn of state stamps is due for issuance of a confirmation that you fulfill the preconditions for marriage.
Keep in mind that confirmation on the fulfillment of religious marriage preconditions (e.g. “marriage license”) is valid for three months from the date of issue.
For church marriages, you will also need to sit down with the representative of the religious community that you belong to. The procedures required by your church may vary as well. For example, some priests may insist that the bride and groom undergo an engagement course prior to marriage.
A religious marriage ceremony can only be performed by a religious community official who has regulated legal relations with the Republic of Croatia. Once you are married, it is the duty of the official who performed the ceremony to send your marriage certificate to the appropriate Registrar’s Office.
Same Sex Couples
Unfortunately, in Croatia “marriage” by law is a union of a man and a woman only. In 2013, there was a national referendum proposed by the conservative association “U ime obitelji”, which fought for this definition of marriage to be entered into the Croatian constitution and relevant laws.
All counties in Croatia voted “Yes”, with the exception of Istra. (THANK YOU ISTRA FOR NOT BEING HATEFUL AND IGNORANT!) Since the passing of this referendum, same sex couples technically are not married as far as the law is concerned, which means same sex couples cannot marry in Croatia using the above procedures. Same sex couples can register a life partnership. Here are the details on that.
Residence Permits Based on Marriage
If you are a third-party national (meaning you are not EEA/EU or Swiss) marrying a Croatian, then you may apply for residence in Croatia under the Family Reunification policy. Details on how to apply for this residence permit are here.