Marriage and registered partnership

To register either a marriage or a partnership in Switzerland or abroad, your main point of reference is the registry office in which you have decided to celebrate the marriage or conclude your partnership. It is normally this office that decides what documents are required to mark this civil status event.

List of registry offices in Switzerland (de, fr, it)

You are advised nonetheless to learn in advance about the formalities involved and the civil status documents that may have to be prepared prior to the celebration of a civil status event. These advance steps will facilitate matters when it comes to entering your marriage or registered partnership in the Swiss civil status register (Infostar). To register in the register Infostar, the documents listed on this webpage are to be submitted to the Swiss representation competent for the country where the celebration has taken place.

If you plan to take up residence in Switzerland after marrying or registering a partnership, bear in mind that your foreign spouse or partner will need a residence permit and may require an entry visa. Please consult the Visa – Entry to and Residence in Switzerland section regarding an application to enter Switzerland for the purpose of family reunification.

If you are registered with a Swiss representation and have married or entered into a registered partnership in Switzerland you will need to report your change in civil status to the representation concerned so that the register of the Swiss Abroad can be updated. This will require submission of the following documents (as hard copy or in electronic form):

  • photocopy of the Swiss marriage certificate, Swiss family record or Swiss registered partnership document;
  • photocopy of the identity document of the foreign spouse or partner.

There is no fee for the registration in question.

If prior to the marriage or registered partnership your Swiss spouse or partner was not resident in the consular district of the Swiss representation, and plans to take up residence with you following the said civil status event, he or she will have to register in accordance with the application procedure described under the heading “Registration and change of address”.

In order to keep the family registers accurate and up-to-date, the Swiss authorities need to be informed about any changes in the civil status (birth, marriage, partnership, death and divorce) of Swiss citizens and dual nationals. When such changes occur, the persons concerned, or their nearest relatives, should send a complete and certified copy of the appropriate document/s (birth, death, marriage, partnership or divorce certificates) to the responsible Swiss representation.

Please note that these requirements are not set by the Swiss representations but by the respective cantonal offices in Switzerland. They make the final decisions whether the documents meet or do not meet the requirements.

Local and cantonal civil status authorities

Civil status changes (marital status, birth of children, death, name change, etc.) must be communicated to the Swiss authorities. Failure to provide accurate documentation may impede future administrative procedures with the Swiss authorities and even hinder the issuance of new identity documents, i.e. passports, etc.

Marriage Ceremony in the U.S.

  • Additional Information for Marriage Registration (PDF, 468.6 kB)
  • Certified marriage certificate (not older than 6 months - no abstract). For documents not including the complete identity of both spouses (dates of birth, names of their parents, and civil status prior to the marriage) also submit a certified copy of the marriage license.
  • Certified birth certificate (not older than 6 months) of the foreign spouse (if born in the U.S.). The document has to show the exact place of birth (city) and names of the parents.
    OR the  Foreign Civil Status Document (for citizens of other countries)
  • Copy of foreign spouse’s passport indicating name after marriage
  • If the foreign spouse was previously married: Certified final divorce decree (not older than 6 months), showing the exact date when the judgment was entered into effect
    AND the  Additional Information Necessary for Legalization of Divorce Decrees (PDF, 507.1 kB).
  • If the foreign spouse is widowed: Certified death certificate (not older than 6 months) of the former spouse.

Important: The documents will not be returned to you. Photocopies and documents certified by a notary public will not be accepted.

Marriage Ceremony in the U.S. (for non-resident Swiss Citizens)

In the United States, the state laws stipulate who is authorized to perform a marriage: judge, court clerk, justices of the peace, recognized members of the clergy (such as Priest, Minister, Rabbi, Imam, etc.). The required documents may vary from state to state. Therefore, please contact the responsible U.S. authority to inquire about the procedure and the required documents.

For Swiss citizens, the following documents are usually required: Swiss passport, multilingual birth certificate (obtainable at the place of birth) and the certificate of civil status (obtainable at the place of origin).

Required documents for the registration with the Swiss authorities

Once the marriage is performed, the following documents should be submitted to the responsible Swiss representation for legalization/translation and transmission to the place of origin in Switzerland (there are no fees involved and a personal appearance is not required):

  • Additional Information for Marriage Registration (PDF, 468.6 kB)
  • Certified marriage certificate (not older than 6 months - no abstract). For documents not including the complete identity (dates of birth, the names of their parents, and the civil status prior to the marriage) also submit a certified copy of the marriage license.
  • Copy of Certificate of Civil Status (if available)
  • Certificate of Residence
  • Copies of passports

Important: The documents will not be returned to you. Photocopies and documents certified by a notary public will not be accepted.

Partnership Ceremony in the U.S.

  • Additional Information for Registration of a Domestic Partnership (PDF, 59.2 kB)
  • Certified copy of the partnership contract (not older than 6 months - no abstract). For documents not including the complete identity of both partners (dates of birth, the names of their parents, and the civil status prior to the marriage) also submit a certified copy of the marriage license.
  • Certified birth certificate (not older than 6 months) of the foreign spouse (if born in the U.S.). The document has to show the exact place of birth (city) and names of the parents.
    OR the Foreign Civil Status Document (for citizens of other countries)
  • Copy of foreign partner’s passport indicating name after marriage
  • If the foreign partner was previously married: Certified final divorce decree (not older than 6 months), showing the exact date when the judgment was entered into effect
    AND the completed Additional Information Necessary for Legalization of Domestic Partnership Divorce Decrees (PDF, 507.9 kB).
  • If the foreign partner is widowed: Certified death certificate of the late spouse (not older than 6 months) .

Important: The documents will not be returned to you. Photocopies and documents certified by a notary public will not be accepted.

Preparation of Marriage / Domestic Partnership in Switzerland

Marriage procedures are much more complicated and costly in Switzerland than they are in the United States. This is due to the civil law requirements, some of which might even be seen as bureaucratic red tape to an outsider. The Swiss civil registrar in the town or city where the marriage is to take place may even require some additional documents which are not mentioned below. The procedures may also vary from one canton (state) to another.

The civil registry office in Switzerland is solely responsible for specifying and processing the required documents. The arrangements to schedule the wedding date (domestic partnership) must be done directly with that office. English is not one of the official Swiss languages (German, French and Italian), therefore not all civil registrar officers will be able to communicate in English.

Some foreign documents may require prior legalizations from other Swiss representation and this procedure may also involve additional fees, expenses and time.

In general, the following documents are required for a civil ceremony in Switzerland and must be signed by the fiancés at the responsible Swiss representation (Embassy or Consulate) abroad. If one of the fiancé is living in Switzerland, he or she will have to sign these documents at the civil registrar's office there.

  • Form. 0-34 - Application for marriage preparation or application for the preparation of the registration of a partnership
  • Form. 0-35 - Declaration concerning the requirements for entering into marriage or declaration concerning the requirements for registering a partnership

The form to be used must be in one of the official Swiss languages (German, French or Italian). The form in English is handed over for translation purposes only.

These documents may be obtained at the Swiss representation upon request.

The fiancés have to sign these documents in person in front of a civil registrar in Switzerland or at a Swiss diplomatic or consular representation abroad.

Be aware that the forms can only be filled out in a Swiss official language and that it may be difficult to find a Notary who agrees on legalizing signatures on a document not in English.

Additional documents (the documents will be translated and legalized by the Swiss representation if necessary):

  • Valid passports

For a Swiss bride or Swiss groom:

  • Certificate of civil status for Swiss nationals (Personenstandsausweis/certificat individuel d'état civil )
  • Certificate of residence (if you are registered at a Swiss representation in the U.S., this can be replaced by a Certificate of registration and nationality)

For a foreign bride or foreign groom:

Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage

This document certifies that there are no impediments and that the marriage will be recognized by the country of origin.

No such document exists in the United States. Therefore, in general, the Swiss civil registrar accepts a notarized affidavit of eligibilty to marry in which both the bride and groom certify that there are no impediments against their marriage and that it will be recognized in their country.

Name after the marriage (for Swiss citizens and persons residing in Switzerland)

If the bride decides not to take the last name of the husband when the couple gets married, she would have to sign a surname declaration (the form can be obtained from the competent representation) before the marriage, either at a civil registrar or the responsible Swiss representation. If she wants to be subject to the legislation on names of her country of residence, she would have to confirm it in writing at the responsible Swiss representation as well (the form can also be obtained from the competent representation).

Fees and expenses

When an application is submitted, the responsible representation is to be paid an advance in the local currency for all expected fees and expenses. The fees may vary according to the exchange rate and the number of documents to be legalized/translated (CHF 305.00 to be paid in USD in cash or money order / please contact the representation for the exchange rate). That does not include the fees of the Swiss civil registrar.

The processing time after the documents are submitted to the Swiss representation can take up to 8 weeks or more. 

The local civil registrar will then issue the confirmation and send all the papers to the cantonal authority for approval. The wedding can take place 10 days earliest after the date of confirmation, but not later than 3 months.

No visa is required for American citizens who are traveling to Switzerland for up to three months for tourism and visiting purposes.