Marriage & Civil Partnership Abroad
If you are an Irish Citizen resident in Belgium and are planning on getting married or to enter into a civil partnership, you should contact your local municipality (Gemeentehuis/Maison Communale) who can provide you with a list of documents which they require.
Among these documents is a Freedom to Marry Certificate or Certificat de Coutume which can be issued by the Embassy of Ireland and which will state that you are free to marry/enter into a civil partnership.
Note: Following the introduction of the Marriages Act 2015, you should note that with effect from 16 May 2016, civil partnerships or civil unions from outside the jurisdiction will no longer be recognised in Ireland. Civil Partnerships entered into before 16 May 2016 in another jurisdiction (under Section 5 of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010) will be recognised as civil partnerships in Ireland.
Please note we have now moved to online payments for applications for a Freedom to Marry Cert. Please have your debit/credit card details and the required supporting documents ready before you begin your application. Further information can be found under the Supporting Documents section below.
To apply for a Certificate of Freedom to Marry, you must complete an online questionnaire about yourself and your upcoming marriage or civil partnership.
Based on this questionnaire, you’ll be presented with one or more Statutory Declarations to complete and a checklist of supporting documentation you'll need to submit with your application.
You need to:
- Print and sign your questionnaire
- Print out a copy of each Statutory Declaration
- Print out your checklist
- Complete the Declarations and have them witnessed
- Post them to us with your supporting documentation and signed questionnaire
Print off or save each form right after your online questionnaire, as you won't be able to retrieve them later.
When to apply
Submit your application a minimum of four months before the date of your marriage or civil partnership.
Your witnessed statutory declaration(s) cannot be dated more than six months before the date we receive your application.
Your application is not complete until we get hard copies of your questionnaire, statutory declaration(s), and all supporting documentation.
Your checklist will tell you exactly what supporting documentation you'll need for your application, which may include:
- Your original long-form birth certificate
- A court order, if you are under 18 years
- Death certificate of your previous spouse, if widowed
- Petition and final decree of your divorce, if divorced
- A photocopy of your current Irish passport
- Your original naturalisation certification, if naturalised
Translating your documents
You'll need to submit certified translations of any of these documents, if the originals are in a language other than English or Irish.
Getting replacement documents
We need original documents (except for the photocopy of your passport) to process your application.
If you don't have the original certificates, you must get replacements from the General Register Office which issued your certificate.
You can avoid translation requirements, if presenting to the Belgian state authorities, by ordering a Multilingual Standard Form (MSF) in the language of your choice to accompany your birth certificate. To obtain this, you must order your certificate directly from the General Registrar’s Office.
Please note it is common for authorities in Belgium to only accept original certificates that were issued within the past three months. Original certificates or translations are not available from the Embassy.
Getting your documents back
We will return all your original documents to you after we inspect them.
If the country in which you are getting married requires a Certificate de Coutume with an Apostille attached, we will provide this service. This may take up to 3 weeks. You will be charged the standard consular fee (currently €40) for each document that needs to be Apostilled (including the Certificate de Coutume, birth certificate, etc).
If you are an Irish citizen who was not born in Ireland, and you require an Apostille on your birth certificate, it must be Apostilled by the government which issued your birth certificate.
If you haven't included all the necessary documents, your application will be returned to you.
Who can be a witness?
- A solicitor
- A notary public
Details of how to search for an English speaking notary public or solicitor can be found in our New to Belgium page.
Please note that, other than in genuine, documented emergency, the Embassy of Ireland in Brussels no longer witnesses statutory declarations or takes oaths or affidavits. This service is readily available at the offices of a notary public in Belgium.
Your witness must:
- Know you personally, or
- Know a third party personally who can identify you, or
- Be able to verify your identity through your official documents (e.g. a passport or ID card), and
- Provide a business contact number, address, and stamp, and
- Not be related to you
Your witness needs to:
- Witness you completing and signing your Statutory Declaration(s)
- Complete and sign the relevant part of your Statutory Declaration(s)
It's against the law to make a Statutory Declaration that you know is false or misleading in any way.
Certificate of Freedom to Marry (Certificate de Coutume/Nulla Osta)
Per Irish applicant: €60
Non- refundable postage fee: €6
Total per Irish applicant: €66
If you submit your application 28 days or less before the date of your intended marriage you’ll have to pay an additional fee of €60 per Irish applicant.
Payment is made online as part of the application process.
Send your completed application to:
Rue Froissart- Froissartstraat 50
Phone (General): +32 2 2823 400
You can also drop off the application in person during our opening hours.