Legal Age for Marriage
There is certainly a legal age to get married in Austria but if you’re over the age of 18 there won’t be an issue with that. Persons at least 16 years of age may also marry upon presentation of written, notarized consent from both parents and if the other spouse is at least 18 years old. So, if at least one of you is over the age of 18 and the other one is at least 16, then you can get married in Austria. Since the legal age for drinking beer and wine is also 16, you can even toast with champagne on your wedding day.
There is certainly some paperwork required and we won’t be able to spare you at least one trip to the authorities before getting legally married in Austria. However, most of these documents should be fairly easy to obtain, if you don’t already have them at home. Here is a list of documents most frequently asked for by Austrian authorities:
- Passports – since you’re getting married in a foreign country, this should be a no-brainer.
- Birth Certificates (original or certified copy) – sometimes a translation and Apostille (we’ll explain what that is later) is needed, however, if your birth certificate is written in English most legal officiants will be able to read and understand it and turn a blind eye to the fact that it is not translated. Your wedding planner will discuss all of this with the local authorities in Austria and inform you in time if you will need to get it officially translated.
- Driver's License or similar document that shows address of residence, this can also be a recent bill that states your name and address.
- A residence registration form ("Meldezettel") issued by the Austrian authorities after arrival, unless the applicants are staying in a hotel, youth hostel, etc. If you’re staying with friends or family, you will also need to get their signature on the form before filing it at the local registration office (“Meldeamt”) or local community (“Gemeinde”).
- If you’ve been married previously, a documentary proof of dissolution of your previous marriage(s), for example a final divorce or annulment decrees, will be necessary. The marriage certificate(s) of such previous marriage(s) is/are also usually required. Translations might be necessary but like I said before, this is something that varies and strongly depends on the legal officiant that will be conducting your wedding.
- Then you will need a certificate of no impediment to marriage (Ehefähigkeitszeugnis), which basically states that you are not married and have no legalities holding you back from marrying your spouse. Your local authorities or embassy will be able to issue you this document. There, you will also be able to get an Apostille for your documents to proof that they are valid and original.
Bear in mind that documents (other than passports and driver's licenses) issued in languages other than German must be accompanied by certified translations done by an official translator. They are sometimes able to make an exception for English documents, like I said before.
All documents need an Apostille (also known as Haager Apostille) which is basically a stamp and signature from relevant and qualified officials in the area you live and serves as legalization of foreign documents.
Place of Marriage
In Austria, weddings can take place in a variety of locations. The most common place is the Standesamt, which also provides you with all the information needed prior to your wedding. It is possible to perform a marriage outside a Standesamt if the legal officiant agrees to it. We have some wedding venues in Austria that offer legal ceremonies but if you decide to get married outside, maybe on top of a mountain or in a maze field, we would have to double check with the legal officiant.
Only civil marriages are legal in Austria. They may, however, be followed by religious ceremonies if desired. Civil marriages are performed by officials of the Vital Statistics Office (Standesamt) in the appropriate jurisdiction. Because both parties to the marriage are neither Austrians nor residents, the initial application will be filed at the Standesamt for the First District of Vienna.
Both marriage partners - bringing with them the required documents listed above - should apply in person at the appropriate Vital Statistics Office (Standesamt).
It is possible to appoint another person to file the documents for you, for this you would need to file an authorization from (“Ermächtigung”). The Standesamt (office) will forward the documents for approval of the marriage to the appropriate Superior Court (Oberlandesgericht). After payment of the court fees, the file is returned to the Standesamt which then schedules the date of the wedding (there may be some difficulty obtaining appointments during major holidays). The overall fees for the various procedures and services can reach up to approximately 300€.
The ceremony itself lasts about 15 minutes. In case one or both marriage partners do not speak German, they will have to hire an official Austrian interpreter at their own expenses. This can cost up to 500€, so make sure to add that to your wedding budget to spare yourself from an unpleasant surprise.
Please be advised that you need an Apostille affixed to your Austrian marriage certificate, since it will otherwise not be accepted by the authorities in the U.S. or other Non-European countries. You should apply for an Apostille at the Standesamt/office where your marriage ceremony is to take place.
A good point is that witnesses are not required at the civil ceremony, therefore nothing will stand in the way of your elopement and from my own experience, I can tell you that an interpreter won’t ruin your magical day or break the special bond between you and your partner. They are trained professionals and really do a good job at staying in the background.
Time required to complete application process
Although Austrian law does not require a period of residence in Austria prior to marriage like Germany does for example, the administrative procedures involved usually require 2 - 4 weeks to complete, but it’s easier to estimate it at around 2 months to be safe. So once you’ve decided to get married in Austria make sure to get all the paperwork together first so the application can be filed on time.
Please keep in mind that the information provided in this article should be regarded as general guidelines. The responsible civil registry may require additional documents on a case by case basis. Your wedding planner will be in touch with the civil registry the entire time and inform you about the process as well as any additional documents that might be needed.
Validity of Austrian marriages
Binding advice regarding the validity of an Austrian marriage in other countries can be obtained only from an attorney or an official in the appropriate country. However, marriages legally performed in Austria are generally recognized around the world.
You can register to have a civil marriage as early as six months prior to the desired wedding date, because the verification of marriageability is only valid for a maximum of six months. There is no minimum interval between registration and the marriage ceremony anymore. However, in larger cities expect an average waiting time of two to six weeks.
Prior to the wedding, the registrar’s office determines the marriageability of the fiancés during an oral interview with the help of the presented documents. During this oral trial usually both partners have to appear in person. Then a certification of marriageability ["Aufgebot"] will be prepared.
Keep in mind, when registering for a civil marriage, the partners can declare to the registrar which name the couple intends to use when married. For that reason, it is advisable to decide on the name desired before registering to get married. However, partners can still agree on the name either on their wedding day or during their marriage. My husband and I for example couldn’t decide on a name before the wedding, so we decided to both keep our last names at the time. Of course, I eventually caved in and took his name but that’s something that you and your partner will have to decide and can still change after the wedding in your home countries.
Since 1st January 2019, same-sex couples can also get married legally in Austria and while we all wondered why it took them so long, we are certainly happy that the Constitutional Court has finally ruled for equality! It makes even less sense that the decision was only made recently when considering that the traffic lights in Vienna have been showing homosexual couples since 2015 and Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2014.
However, while Austria has some bureaucracy to overcome, the country has made it possible for foreign couples to get married legally without having to stay here for a certain period of time and without having to spend a fortune. With a little bit of help from your destination wedding planner, you will have the experience of a lifetime and travel home with a backpack full of wonderful memories and a fresh marriage certificate!