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Updated : 17/10/2016



Civil marriage is a legal status recognised in all EU countries.

Partnerships such as civil unions and registered partnerships, or de facto unions apply different rules to those used for marriage.

National rules and practice for marriage differ from one country to another, mainly with regard to:

  • rights and obligations of married couples: for instance, concerning their property, role as parents or their married name.
  • relationship between religious and civil marriage: some countries recognise religious marriage as being equivalent to civil marriage, others do not. If you move abroad after having entered into a religious marriage only, check the consequences for your marital status.
  • the possibility for same-sex couples to get married. As of today, the following EU countries grant this right: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland).

Learn more about national rules on marriage and matrimonial property regimes.

Cross-border marriages in the EU

Are different EU countries involved - for instance, because you marry someone of a different nationality, or because you plan to move abroad after getting married?

What to do before the wedding

Check which country's laws apply to your marriage and to your matrimonial property regime. This will have important consequences for your rights and obligations as spouses.

If you are getting married in a different EU country from the one where you live, check with the authorities in both countries which formalities are needed for your marriage to have full force and effect in both countries. These may include registration or publication requirements.

What to do after the wedding

Your marriage will be recognised in all other EU countries - although this does not fully apply to same-sex marriages.

If you get married in a  EU country  that is not your country of origin it is  recommended to register the marriage at your home country's consular office.

If you move to another EU country for work, your husband or wife can come and live with you there. Check the residence rules for:

Sample story

Same-sex marriage - when national practices differ

Emma, a Belgian national, married Carine, a French national, in Belgium. When Emma had to move to Germany for work, Carine followed her - but they were not regarded as married by the authorities, since same-sex marriage is not recognised in Germany.

However, because registered partnerships between same-sex couples are allowed in Germany, Emma and Carine can be granted the same rights as couples with registered partnerships under German law.

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