How to get married in Switzerland: A guide for foreigners
Published on August 3, 2023
There’s no doubt that Switzerland can provide a breathtaking backdrop for a wedding ceremony. Whether you want to celebrate your marriage beneath towering mountains, beside an Alpine lake or in the cobbled streets of a charming Swiss town, Switzerland can deliver.
In this guide, we’ll outline how to get married in Switzerland as a non-Swiss national. There’s a lot to consider, from the legalities to the benefits and challenges. We’ll also answer some pressing questions about getting married in Switzerland, such as whether same-sex marriages are legal.
The Swiss marriage law applies to all couples wishing to get married in Switzerland, irrespective of nationality. There are several criteria. Both parties must be at least 18 years old, have legal capacity and not already be married or in a registered partnership.
If you don’t have Swiss citizenship, you may need to get a visa to stay in Switzerland until you are married. Check with your local Swiss embassy or consulate before you travel, as there may be restrictions on your ability to get married in Switzerland as a tourist.
When you’re ready to get married, you’ll need to notify the civil register office either in your place of residence in Switzerland or where you want to get married. They will then give you a marriage application form to fill in. Each canton has slightly different procedures, so it’s best to contact their office directly with any questions.
You are not required to be a Swiss national in order to get married in Switzerland. However, there are some requirements that everyone, including foreigners getting married in Switzerland, must fulfill — and a certain amount of paperwork involved.
Both parties must provide birth certificates, passports, residency permits and, if applicable, divorce decrees or death certificates of previous spouses. You will need to have your birth certificate translated into the local language where you’re getting married. The register office where you’re applying to get married will be able to guide you through this, though you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to get it done.
In Switzerland, a civil marriage ceremony is a must for all couples, irrespective of their nationalities. This takes place at a civil registry office and is legally binding. You’ll need two witnesses, both of whom must be over the age of 18. The ceremony will be performed in one of Switzerland’s local languages, so you may need to hire a translator if you don’t speak German or French, for example.
After the civil ceremony, you are free to have a religious ceremony or some other form of ceremony, if you wish. Many couples choose to have a wedding celebration outside in a wonderfully scenic location following their legal ceremony.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Switzerland since July 1, 2022. Though the country was rather late in legalizing same-sex marriage compared to neighboring countries, many same-sex couples (749!) celebrated by getting married in the six months following the change in the law. In the same period, over 2,000 same-sex couples changed their registered partnership to a marriage.
A civil ceremony fee can range from CHF 300 to CHF 400. However, if you choose to have the ceremony outside the registry office or on a Saturday, additional costs may apply. If you opt for a religious or other type of ceremony after the civil one, the costs can increase significantly, depending on your preferences.
First things first, getting married in Switzerland does not automatically or immediately entitle you to Swiss citizenship. However, if you marry a Swiss national and reside in the country for a specified period of time, you may be eligible for a simplified naturalization procedure.
On a slightly morbid note, being married also reduces inheritance tax if one spouse passes away.
For many, getting married in Switzerland is a two-fold process. The first part is the legal ceremony, and the second is a wedding celebration in a picturesque part of the country. Whether you’re a foreigner marrying a Swiss national or a non-Swiss couple that has simply fallen in love with the country, Switzerland offers a fairly simple path to marriage for opposite- and same-sex couples alike.