Marriage in Switzerland

Love and marriage may belong together like a horse and carriage but in this country there are also some hurdles which you need to know about.

To get married, you must meet the following legal requirements:  The person you want to marry must be of the opposite sex; you must both be over the age of 18 and if either of you are not Swiss citizens, you must be lawfully resident in Switzerland at the time of marriage.

You must get married at the civil register office even if you plan a church wedding at a later date. You will need to complete a ‘marriage preparation’ application form. If you are a Swiss citizen you will need to provide an ID and proof of residency. If you are a foreigner you will need to provide an ID, proof of residency in Switzerland as well as documents pertaining to your place of birth, gender, marital status (single or divorced) and nationality. These documents will need to be translated into one of the official Swiss languages (French, German or Italian) and notarised.

Your application form will then be reviewed and once accepted, the ceremony can take place within ten days and three months at the latest after the authorisation for the marriage has been granted. The ceremony is public and takes place at a civil register office venue. The bride and groom and two witnesses sign a document to record the marriage in the civil status register.

You will be given your family record document.

Both spouses keep their original surnames. They can still choose a shared family name if they want, in this case they must choose either the bride or the groom’s surname. In registered partnerships, the couple can also choose one of the partners’ names as a shared family name.

Once married you must inform the authorities, your employer, the tax authorities, your bank and insurance companies and you need to update the following documents when you change your name: Passport and ID card, Old-age pension, survivors’ and invalidity insurance certificate, driving licence and vehicle registration document, bank and credit cards etc.

Same sex couples are not allowed to marry but are allowed to register their partnerships.

To enter into a registered partnership, you must both be over 18 years of age, you must be of the same sex and one or both of you must be a Swiss national or reside in Switzerland. Apply to register your partnership at the civil register office of your or your partner’s place of residence. You will need to present similar documents to those required for a marriage. Once you have completed the application, you can register your partnership at the civil register office of your choice either straight away or within three months. You must both bring your identity documents and the authorisation if the ceremony is taking place in a different register office district to the one in which your application was processed.You do not need witnesses to be present.

The registrar will issue a deed of partnership, which you will both be asked to sign. You will then be given a registered partnership certificate. In some register offices, you may exchange vows and rings after the official ceremony.

A marriage between two persons of the same sex concluded abroad is recognised in Switzerland as a civil partnership.

This article is an excerpt from our winter magazine which you can find here.

More information can be found here.


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