Marriage is generally perceived as a legal, physical, emotional union of two people and is also associated with a number of legal and financial advantages. In the Czech Republic, this life-long commitment between a man and a woman has its deep meaning and value even today and up to 50,000 weddings take place here every year. Marriage in the Czech Republic is possible either in the form of a civil or religious marriage ceremony. Civil marriage is performed by a public official (mayor, deputy mayor, councillor), while a religious wedding ceremony is officiated by a representative of a church or a religious organisation.
In general, civil marriage in the Czech Republic follows these basic rules:
The wedding vows are ceremonially taken in public, in the presence of two adult witnesses. Married couples have joined property, and they are bound to live together, to be faithful to each other, to mutually respect their honour and human dignity, and to help each other and to create a healthy living environment and background. They can adopt children, be foster parents or guardians and can represent each other. The married couple has maintenance duty, meaning they have to have the same living conditions.
To plan a civil wedding ceremony, visit the Office of Vital Records (“matrika”) in the Municipal Office (“místní úřad”) responsible for the area where you want to have your wedding. You should present the following:
- Birth certificates,
- Certificates of your nationalities (passport, ID, etc.),
- Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (“Vysvědčení o právní způsobilosti k uzavření manželství”) issued by your country of origin (I would recommend visiting your Embassy), cannot be older than 6 months,
- Confirmation of your marital status and residence (“Potvrzení o rodinném stavu a pobytu”) — also issued by the country of origin and cannot be older than 6 months,
- Confirmation of your legal residency status in the Czech Republic (for non-EU citizens), which you can get in person at the Department of Foreign Police — it cannot be older than 7 business days on the day of your marriage.
Moreover, you have to submit the form “A Questionnaire for Entering into Marriage”, which you can obtain at the relevant Office of Vital Records or you may download it here. The form must be completed by both of you and submitted to the Office of Vital Records under the jurisdiction of which the place where the marriage is to be contracted falls, alongside the required documents.
Widows and widowers need to bring the death certificate of their deceased spouse. If you are divorced, you need to attach a valid legal ruling on the divorce.
All documents attached to the application must either be in the Czech language or be officially translated by an authorized court translator, featuring official verification or certification. Moreover, in the case of some countries, you will need your foreign documents apostilled. The authority responsible for supplying apostilles may differ in each country — you can look up which authority is responsible for apostilles in your country here: Authorities — HCCH. The authority issues an apostille, which is added to the original document. Apostilles are usually written in the official language of the state they were issued in, which is why an official translation is necessary. Official translations of documents can only be made by a court interpreter. Three documents need to be handed to the authorities bound together: the original document or a certified copy (authorized by a Czech notary), its translation and the court interpreter’s clause with their signature and a round stamp. You can find a court interpreter online (link to the registry below). Some agencies offer the service too, however, always make sure they have the necessary authorization from the regional court.
You might ask for an interpreter as the wedding ceremony has to be held in the Czech language. The registrar will ask you to submit your IDs and will give a short speech. At the end of the ceremony, the wedding officiant asks if the engaged couple are entering into the marriage freely and voluntarily. Your answer will be “ano” (“I do” in Czech) even if a translator is present. With that, you accept all the obligations related to marriage. You and the witnesses sign the Wedding Records Book. The Registry Office will issue your marriage certificate (“oddací list”) within 30 days.
After the wedding
You must report changes in your marital status to the Department of Asylum and Migration Policy within 3 days. If you or your partner has changed surnames, you must contact your embassy. Then you must once again visit the Ministry of Interior office to get a new residence permit under your new name. EU citizens and their family members are required to report changes in their personal status within 15 working days of this change occurring to the Ministry of Interior. You need to provide:
- a document confirming the change in the personal status (marriage certificate, court’s final judgement on divorce, etc.)
- a residence permit
More information on marriage as a foreigner:
- Centre for foreigners’ integration – Marrying a Foreigner (cicops.cz)
- Ministry of Interior – Marriage between Czech Nationals and Foreign Nationals in the Czech Republic (mvcr.cz)
- Guide by Expats.cz – Getting Married: Making it Legal (news.expats.cz)
- Prague wedding guide – praguecitytourism.cz
- Legalising documents – Verification of foreign public documents – Ministry of Interior
- Registry of court interpreters: The Chamber of Court Appointed Interpreters and Translators of the Czech Republic