Is a foreign marriage valid in the Netherlands?

13 / 05 / 2019 Sophie Zeilstra

Are you married abroad and are you planning to relocate to the Netherlands? Or are you currently living in the Netherlands but planning to get married in your home country? Please be aware that not every foreign marriage is automatically recognized as an official marriage in the Netherlands.

Once back in the Netherlands, you can report the foreign marriage to the municipality where you live. Even if both partners have the Dutch nationality, this is still mandatory.


In most cases, a foreign marriage is recognized in the Netherlands after this notification. However, a number of conditions must be met:

  • The foreign marriage must be a civil wedding. A church marriage or a different type of marriage is therefore not a valid marriage.
  • The marriage certificate may be in a different language, but must be translated into Dutch, English, French or German in order to register it. This must be a sworn translation.
  • The marriage must be a real marriage and not a marriage of convenience. A marriage of convenience is a marriage with the purpose, for example, of obtaining a residence permit.

When registering, the municipality will request the following documents:

  • The original marriage certificate or a certified copy;
  • A proof of the fact that one of the partners has a Dutch nationality (for example: a copy of a passport);
  • A copy of the passport of the non-Dutch partner;
  • An original copy of the birth certificate of both partners; and
  • A signed request for registration. If a third party submits the request, the municipality will also request an identity proof (for example: a copy of the passport) from the applicant.

After registration you will receive the authorization documents by registered mail. Store these documents in a safe place: you may need them in the future, for example in case of a divorce.

Marriage registry in The Hague

In addition to registering with the municipality you live in, we also advise you to register the marriage in the marriage registry of the municipality of The Hague. This registry is specifically aimed at foreign marriage certificates.

The advantage of registering in The Hague is the fact that a recent copy from that registry is sufficient for the court in case of a divorce. If no registration has been made in The Hague, you must request a new copy from the municipality where you got married. If this is abroad, this can be very complicated. In most cases, a court does not accept the original marriage certificate: the copy of the marriage certificate may never be older than three months.

Legalization or apostille

Marriage certificates from certain countries are not legally valid in the Netherlands. In that case, the document must be legalized. The procedures for legalization are different for each country. For countries that are members of the Apostille Convention, an apostille stamp is sufficient, while the legalization in other countries is done through local authorities. Contact us for more information.

International Dutch family lawyer

Do you need advice on registering a foreign marriage in the Netherlands or has your registration been rejected? LINK Lawyers specializes in international law and family law. Contact us for more information.

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