Family reunification

Information on visa options for joining family in the United States is available on the following website:

Registering marriages contracted abroad

Marriages contracted abroad or registered partnerships under civil law are recognised in Switzerland and must be registered with the Swiss civil status authorities. Swiss nationals who get married abroad are required to register their marriage with the competent Swiss representation abroad. The representation translates and authenticates the marriage certificate and forwards it to the civil status authority in Switzerland free of charge. In exceptional cases, you can also notify your cantonal civil status authority, which will forward the marriage certificate and related documents to the representation abroad for translation and authentication. In this case you will be required to pay a fee.

Getting in touch with us early on

You are advised to consult the relevant Swiss representation before your marriage regarding the rules you need to comply with so that the marriage can be recognised in Switzerland and entered in the civil status register as soon as possible.


Since June 2015, same-sex couples have the right to marry in all the states of the US. Federal civil law grants special privileges to married couples. These include lower tax rates, simplified family reunification and special, advantageous social security regulations. For example, surviving spouses or parents residing in other states or abroad are entitled to social security benefits under certain conditions. Couples joined in civil unions or domestic partnerships are not entitled to such benefits.

Marriage-like legal recognition of relationships

There are various forms of marriage-like legal recognitions of relationships that exist alongside marriage. Examples here include civil unions and domestic partnerships. The given state's family law stipulates the rights and obligations of such partnerships and governs how couples can register them.

  • Civil unions are marriage-like contracts, usually between persons of the same sex. The most similar institution codified in Swiss law is registered partnership. Their legal effects vary from state to state.
  • A domestic partnership is formed by two people of the same or opposite sex who live together, managing a single household, but are not legally married or partnered. In some states, domestic partners have certain rights. These rights differ according to the given city, county and state. 

Recognition in the US of marriages/partnerships performed abroad

Federal law governs the recognition of marriages performed abroad, whereas the given state's law governs marriage-like institutions such as civil unions and domestic partnerships. Swiss registered partnerships are recognised as civil unions in many states. Yet the given state may have rules since 2015 stipulating that partnerships must be converted to marriages. You will need to look into this matter. 


Innovation and Partnerships

Consular Directorate CD
Effingerstrasse 27
3003 Bern


Helpline +41 800 24-7-365 / +41 58 465 33 33

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