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As of July 18, 1982, both civil and religious marriage ceremonies may be performed in Greece according to Greek law number1250. This law also legalized all civil marriages performed abroad between a Greek citizen and an alien prior to this date. Previously, only religious ceremonies were recognized by the Greed state.
Foreign nationals in Greece may be married either in a civil ceremony by a mayor, in a religious ceremony by a priest, or other. Although there is no residency requirement for foreign national wishing to marry in Greece, the bureaucratic procedure may take several weeks to complete before a marriage certificate may be obtained.
Marriage licenses can be obtained from one's current place of residence, prior to coming to Greece, and are generally accepted by the Greek authorities. This only applies, however, if neither the bride nor the groom is resident in Greece.
Valid American Marriage Licenses are accepted in Greece provided that theydo not contain restrictive statements, for example, "This license is valid for county X" or "Marriage will take place in the state of new York, California, etc." These restrictive statements may prohibit Greek municipality officials from honouring an otherwise valid American marriage license. If these statements cannot be removed, the license should be amended by the issuing authority to include GREECE as one of the places in which the marriage can take place. It is also recommended that the marriage license be endorsed with the Apostle stamp in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention. The Apostle stamp is a special authentication for documents to be used outside the United States and can be obtained form your local State Secretary. In order to avoid any further delay in proceeding with the marriage upon arrival in Greece, a couple may obtain a formal translation of the license into the Greek language from the nearest Greed Consulate in the U.S. rather than at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens.
If one of the parties to be married in Greece is not an American, the American should ascertain that complete information (full name, birth data, names of parents, etc.) about his/her bride/groom is contained in his/her marriage license to avoid difficulties in its being accepted in Greece.
NOTE:Foreigners should be in possession of a residence permit if they reside permanently in Greece, or if the length of their stay in the country exceeds the residence permit-free period. (American citizens can stay up to Three months without having to obtain a residence permit). The following documents are required to obtain a Greed marriage license for marriage ceremonies performed in Greece which involve foreigners:
A passport or other travel document.
A certified copy of your birth certificate, along with an official translation. Official translations can be obtained at the Translation Department of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 3 Voukourestiou Street, 3rd floor (entrance from theatre) in Athens. The translation may take up to a week to prepare. (See Note at bottom of page)
If applicable, documentary evidence (death certificate or final divorce decree) of the termination of a previous marriage (the most recent, if more than one), along with an official translation.
Confirmation by an American Consular Officer that there is no impediment to the marriage (i.e. neither party is under 18 years of age, there is no existing undissolved marriage, etc.). This confirmation is issued in the form of an Affidavit of Marriage signed under oath by the American citizen bride or groom before a Consular Officer in Athens or Thessaloniki. (For minors under 18 years of age, a court decision approving the marriage is required.)
The affidavit must be completed in English and Greek. In Athens, the Embassy's Notorial Unit is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Greek and American holidays excepted. Thessaloniki, the Consulate General performs Notorial services on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Greed and American holidays excepted. The fee for the affidavit is $10.00 or the equivalent in drachmas.
Sample: John R. Doe, born in Fair City, Indiana, USA, the son of James and Mary (nee Rice) Doe, and Sally Smith, daughter of Peter and Susan (nee Brown) Smith, born in Small Town, Tennessee, USA, will marry each other in the city of Athens.
Following the ceremony, the marriage must be registered at the Vital statistics Office (Lixiarcheio). See Registration of a marriage
The above mentioned documents must be taken in person to the City Hall (Demarcheio) or the President of the Community (Dimarhos) where the applicant resides to apply for a marriage license. If both the bride and the groom are foreign nationals, each must submit a set of documents. The marriage license is issued seven days after the submission of the application and is good for six months. The civil ceremony may be performed anywhere in Greece.
Upon issuance of the marriage license, the concerned persons must jointly submit another application to the Mayor or President of the Community where they will marry. This official then sets the date for the wedding ceremony. Two witnesses, provided by the marrying couple, must attend the wedding ceremony, one of whom will act as an interpreter. Witnesses should have their passports or Greek identification card with them.
The documents listed on page 1 and 2, [numbers 1-5] must be taken to the priest who will perform the ceremony. He then will apply for and obtain the marriage license from the appropriate official. A waiting period is mandatory after the priest receives the documents. It would be noted that Greek law does not provide for the religious marriage of a Christian to a non-Christian.
Each denomination as specific requirements for celebrating a marriage as follows"
Protestant Church1. Church Requirements: Both parties must show evidence of the Christian faith and baptism The couple must meet with the Pastor for a series of premarital counseling sessions, or must have a letter from their Pastor declaring that the counseling has been received. The couple is responsible for making arrangements to have flowers in the church and/or the services of an organist. 2. One of the persons involved must be a Protestant, and neither can be of the Greek Orthodox faith.3. Two witnesses must be available to attend the wedding ceremony. More detailed information may be obtained by writing to the Parish Priest of 66 Sina Street 106 72 Athens, Greece or 5 Xenopoulou Street 154 51 Neo Psychico, Athens, Greece Tel. 671-2368 647-9585
Roman Catholic Church1. Church requirements: Each party must present the following certificates: Baptism (from the church in which it was performed Confirmation and freedom to marry. Banns need not be posted i the case of non-residents of Greece.2. Special dispensation is required in the case of mixed marriages. The non-Catholic party to the marriage must obtain certificate of birth, baptism, and freedom to marry from his or her church. Divorce is not recognized. More detailed information may be obtained by writing to the Parish Priest, St. Dionisios Areopagitus Roman Catholic Cathedral 9 Omirou Street 105 64 Athens, Greece Tel: 362-3603
Jewish Faith1. Clerical Requirements: A certificate of freedom to marry, issued by the senior Rabbinate of the area of residence, must be presented. A Jewish marriage ceremony may be performed only if both bride and groom are of the Jewish faith. More detailed information may be obtained by writing to the Rabbi, 5 Melidoni Street 105 53 Athens, Greece Tel: 325-2875 325-2823 325-2773
Both a Civil and Religious Marriage:
Two sets of the aforementioned documents must be collected if a person desires both a civil and a religious ceremony. One set should be taken to the town hall and the entire process previously explained will be followed. The other set, likewise, should be taken tot he priest and the requirements for the religious ceremony fulfilled.
Registration of a marriage:
Marriages of American citizens in Greece are not registered at the Embassy, but instead at the Vital Statistics Office (Lixiarcheio) of the city where performed. This applies to all marriages, whether civil or religious, and must be done within 40 days following the ceremony. After 40 days are up to 90 days, the marriage can only be registered with the payment of revenue stamps. After 90 days, the marriage can only be registered with the District Attorneys' authorization (addressed to the Registrar of the Office of Vital Statistics) and the payment of revenue stamps. Marriages can be registered by either spouse, or by a third party who is in possession of a power-of-attorney signed before a Greek Notary Public giving him/her authority to take all steps necessary to effect registration of the marriage. Marriages which are not registered have no legal validity.
Either marriage, civil or religious, is a fully recognized legal marriage. It is not necessary to perform both ceremonies.
According to U.S. statues, marriages performed abroad which are valid under the laws of that country are generally accepted as valid by any state in the U.S.
Marriages performed in Greece which are not registered with the Bureau of Vital Statistics after the ceremony have no validity.
According to the Greek Nationality Law as amended on May 8, 1984, marriage does not result in the acquisition or loss of Greek nationality.
Note regarding official translations into the Greek language:
Greek Consulates in the U.S. can sometimes perform official translations of documents. To save time, you may inquire whether the Greek Consulate which has consular jurisdiction over your area of residence in the U.S. offers translation services. If the Greek Consulate is unable to translate your documents, then the translation must be done at the Translation Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens.
Upon payment of an extra fee to the Translation Department, you may obtain expeditious service which takes only two days instead of the normal one-week processing period. The Translation Department accepts documents for translation from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.