We got married! Yeah yeah, we got married October 26, 2016, and I’m just now getting around to posting this. After a year of traveling back and forth across the Atlantic and falling in love over Whatsapp, Ivan and I decided to move in together and get married. When you have to jump through as many hoops as we did, I don’t know whether it’s more appropriate to yell out a “Love wins!” or to tip my hat to the Italian government and say: “Touché“.
When I was researching this process, it was super difficult to find information that was actually helpful. It all seemed so confusing. For a while, I didn’t believe they would even let us get married at all. If you’re going through something similar, you’re not alone. Italian bureaucracy (a word I can spell better in Italian) can be super intimidating and frustrating. The key is to never give up!
**One helpful tip we learned along the way: When in doubt, bring a Marca da Bollo – Italian revenue stamps. I estimate you will need about 6 of these in total although policies could change. Details below.
You can get a marca da bollo at any Tabaccheria (Tobacco shop) in Florence. These shops have a big “T” sign outside and provided they have them in stock and that the shop is open, you can buy as many marche da bollo as you need. If you want to read more about what you can do in a Tabaccheria, check out An American in Rome’s: 7 Things You Can Do at an Italian Tabaccheria
The U.S. consulate websites are very thorough with all of the addresses of offices, telephone numbers, email addresses, and business hours you will need and I will link to those below. Here is an outline of the main steps, necessary documents, and an estimate of costs involved. Keep in mind, this information could become outdated if and when policies change. This post only speaks to my experience as an American married to an Italian citizen. We chose to do a civil ceremony and neither of us was previously married, which made things a lot simpler for us. For information about a religious ceremony, or other special cases, check out Girl in Florence’s How to Get Married in Italy: Help is Here
The first step of all is to enter Italy legally. Americans, don’t worry about visas, you can feasibly enter Italy on a regular tourist visa (passport stamp), and complete this process within the 90 days that you can stay in the Schengen area without a special visa. I do recommend that you start the process as soon as possible, and not waste any time because as a general rule, everything takes longer in Italy.
- You need to make an appointment at the American Consulate to get a dichiarazione giurata.
- Dichiarazione Giurata – Americans need a signed, sworn affidavit that they intend to marry the Italian and that they have not been previously married/ are not currently married. Make an appointment at the US consulate in Florence. Schedule an appointment online here . DO NOT sign any documents before your appointment as you have to do that in front of the Consulate official. Bring: your US passport and $50 / equivalent in Euros.
- **Since this is technically a foreign document, to have it recognized legally in Italy, you must take the dichiarazione giurata to the Legalization office in the Prefettura to legalize it. Bring a marca da bollo, (16 euro). The prefettura was reasonably squalid at least in Florence, but power through, if you’ve made it this far you can do it.
- You need another appointment to get an atto notorio.
- Atto Notorio– This is basically the Italian version of the sworn statement. To get married in the Comune di Firenze, you’re going to need to go to the Tribunal building: Firenze il Tribunale – Viale Guidoni, n. 61; telefonare per appuntamento al n. 055 799 65 10) Here is where you enlist the help of your Italian fiancee to call that phone number to set up an appointment.
- Bring: 2 non-future family member witnesses along with all 4 of your passports/ identity documents (you, fiancee, witness 1, and 2) as well as 3 marche da bollo (2 x 16 euros each and 1 x 11 euros). This is starting to get expensive…
- **We didn’t pay close enough attention to the part about non-future family members and had brought Ivan’s sister who couldn’t be his own witness. But as things go in Italy, there is room for error and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a relaxed officer who lets things slide a bit. This step was way less formal than the high security of the American consulate. The most confusing part was finding the right office once inside the building (again get the Italians to ask for help, it is necessary).
- This will take anywhere from 4 to 10 days to process. It’s Italy, pazienza.
- Now you need to make another appointment in the COMUNE.
- You must telephone to make an appointment 055 276 8533, Monday/ Lunedì, Tuesday/Martedì e Friday/Venerdì dalle ore 8.30 alle ore 13.00; Thursday/Giovedì dalle ore 14.30 alle ore 17.00. WHY such specific hours? Italy.
- BRING all of those documents you scrambled to acquire (dichiarazione giurata, atto notorio, and passports obviously) plus 2 marche da bollo (16 euros each) because at this point, only one of you will be an official resident of the Comune di Firenze.
- In the Comune, Palazzo Vecchio if you are getting married in Florence, you need to locate the Marriage Office, Ufficio Matrimoni. Here, you present your documents and make a “Declaration of Intention to Marry” (Dichiarazione di Matrimonio) before a civil registrar (ufficiale di stato civile).
- This appointment serves to post the civil banns at the Comune (Town Hall) for at least two weeks including two Sundays. **During this appointment, note that you must be ready to decide the date of your wedding ceremony, which must take place within 180 days of the publication of the civil banns. **Remember you’re not the only ones trying to get married, so plan ahead so that you will not be rushed to get married within the 90 days. We got married on a chill Wednesday.
- Once you set up your date, you can request a special permit to park your car in the historic center in a valid spot for the day of your wedding. Or if you’re a Southern Italian, like my husband, you can just pull up and park in Piazza della Signoria and hope you don’t get towed or ticketed on your wedding day. Yup, that happened.
US Consular Websites (super helpful with addresses, telephone numbers, etc) ::
For more information (in Italian) about getting married in the Town Hall in Florence, here’s the official website:
FYI:: I didn’t change my surname as that is not the custom in Italy and it would have involved loads of extra bureaucratic hoops to jump through. Can you understand why I was done with red tape after all this??
Marriage Validity: According to the US embassy’s website, “A foreign marriage that is valid in the country where it is performed is automatically valid in the U.S.” So once you have your Italian marriage certificate, you can take it to the Legalization Office in the Italian Prefettura in the comune where you got married to have it apostilled. (We still haven’t done this yet…)
Total Costs: around 141 euros= 5 marche da bollo x 16 euros each + 1 x 11 euros + $50.
Total Time: I landed in Italy August 26 and we were married October 26 so about 60 days.
Has anyone else gotten married in Italy and had a similar experience? Best of luck and feel free to comment about your experience or contact me if you have any questions I could help with!