How to Marry in Russia

Author: Dimitry Paranyushkin (on 11 Jan 2010)
Marrying in Russia is not an easy task, but it's feasible. This complete step-by-step guide is based on our own experience of the process.

 

Introduction to Marriage in Russia.

The most important thing if you marry in Russia is the documents (of course, apart from your mutual willingness to marry each other). Surprisingly, this time it's not Russian bureaucracy needing them, but a native country of the foreign husband or wife.
Two Russians who want to marry in Russia, need to come to any ZAGS (an organization that registers all marriages, births, and deaths in Russia) only with their passports, where they have a propiska (registration). They will fill in an application form and have a date booked after a 30-day waiting period.
When one of the future spouses is a foreigner, ZAGS is required to act according to international agreements, that is, require additional documents that are needed by the embassy of the foreigner's native country.
Below we describe the process in detail. Generally, you'll need to stay in Russia at least for 2 months to be able to get all the documents needed and to book a wedding date, alternatively, you'll need to come at least twice for a couple of weeks. In all, you'll go through about 6 organisations and spend about 12 hours waiting in queues. The process should cost not more than $120 US for everything.

 

WHAT DOCUMENTS ARE NEEDED TO MARRY IN RUSSIA?

Warning: Although we took great care making this information as up-to-date as possible, we do not take any responsibility nor liability in case this information is inaccurate or old. For the latest information, please, contact the embassy of your native country (see Moscow Guide / Embassies).

For a Russian person: a Russian passport with permanent registration ("propiska") at the place of marriage (e.g. Moscow) or temporary registration (made in UVIR).

For a foreigner: a Russian visa (any kind – tourist, business, private, student), a passport, a marital status paper from the embassy (also called "Certificate de Marriage" in France or "Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage" in England).

The first page of the foreigner's passport (where the personal information is) should be translated into Russian and should have a Russian notarial proof (stamped and signed). If the passport is translated in the foreigner's embassy, a consul should sign the translation, so that it's legitimate.
If you make a translation with notarial proof through a translation bureau, it'll cost about 450 R ($15 US) and takes about 2 working days.

The marital status paper
can be obtained through the embassy or through your local authorities (Superintendent Registar's Office in England).
In case you do it through your local authorities (outside Russia) the notice of marriage will be given in the area of your usual residence and if in the period of 14 to 21 days (depending on the country) there's no objections to it, the Certificate of No Impediment will be issued. The Certificate should be then legalized by attaching a Foreign and Commonwealth Office certificate, also called "Apostille".
In England, "Apostille" can be obtained at the Legalisation Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office at Old Admiralty Building, Whitehall, London, SW 1A 2LG (Phone: +44 (0) 20 7008 1111, Fax: +44 (0) 20 7008 1010).
The Certificate of No Impediment is valid for 3 months after the day of the issue (for English citizens) and for 12 month after the day of the issue (for French citizens).

In case you do it through your embassy (in Russia), you should apply at your embassy for the marital status paper. (See the addresses and contacts of embassies in the Moscow Guide / Practicalities section). The embassy will issue a 'publication' at the place of your usual residence and if during a 14 to 21 day period (varies for different countries) nobody objects to this 'publication' then the embassy issues the needed paper. Add another week for the embassy to send this publication to your country.
French embassy doesn't charge anything for the Certificate, English embassy asks 35 pounds for this. This paper should be signed by the embassy and then it should be legalized by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Consulate department. It usually takes about 5 working days for the MFA to legalize the certificate and costs about 120 R ($4 US). So, in all it'll take you at least 1 month to get the legalized Certificate.
If you were married before, you'll need another paper from your embassy. Contact them for further information.
The Certificate of No Impediment validity depends on the country-issuer: 3 months for England, 12 months for France.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consulate Department address is: Moscow, Neopalimovski pereulok, #6 (metro Smolenskaya). Open: 10.00-17.00 (lunch break 13.00-15.00), closed Sat & Sun.

It's important that some embassies will require some documents (in addition to your passport) to be able to issue the Certificate. For example, a French embassy requires a Birth Certificate of your future spouse and a testimony of the future spouse saying he / she sincerely wants to marry (can be made in any Notary office, costs about 120 R ($4 US), takes about 10 minutes). Both papers should be translated in French and apostilled.
The translation with notarial proof usually takes about 2 working days and costs about 450 R ($15 US) for 1 document.
The translation with notarial proof can be made, for example, in "Tolmach" translation bureau: Moscow, Zemlyanoy Val St., #58/23, office 1 (in the courtyard), metro: Kurskaya. Telephone / fax: +7 095 915-5784, email: maschino@aha.ru. Open: 10.00 to 18.00 Mon to Fri.
Apostilles should be put on the translated copies of original documents, and can be made at the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice located at Moscow, Novy Arbat St., 21 (a tower), 2rd floor, room 310. Open: Mon-Fri 9.30-12.00 (receives doc's), 12.00-13.00 (gives out the doc's).
It costs 50 R ($1.6 US) for 1 document to be apostilled and usually takes about 3 days.

So, to summarize what has been said above, here's a helpful table:

Step: Document: How to make it: Time: Price:
1. The Russian spouse's passport with registration (propiska or temporary registration). Already exists. 0 0
2. The foreigner's visa, passport, a copy of the first page of the passport, translated and notary proved. A translation bureau, which can make a translation and a notary will take care of it. 2 w. days 450 R ($15)
3. For Certificate of No Impediment: the Russian spouse's Certificate of Birth translated and notary prooved. A translation bureau, which can make a translation and notary proof. 2 w. days 450 R ($15)
4. Testimony of a future spouse and its translation. Notary office and translation bureau 10 mins + 2 w. days 120 R ($4) + 300 R ($10)
5. Apostille of the translated and notary prooved copy of the Birth Certificate and Testimony (Russian spouse) Ministry of Justice 3 w. days. 50 R ($1.6) for 1 doc
6. The Certificate of No Impediment Your embassy 21 to 30 days free to $50
7. In case you were married before, another paper is needed (contact your embassy):   same as above up to $50
  Total (before you applied to ZAGS):   up to 35 days up to $97

 

What is the Process:

1) Future spouses should come to a 'consulation' in ZAGS #4 that processes the international marriages. Its address is Moscow, Butyrskaya st., #17 (metro Savelovskaya), phone number: 285-1960. Open: 9.00 to 14.00 and 15.00 to 18.00 except sunday and monday. No prior booking is required. It's not necessary to come together, one of the future spouses may come.

 

2) The ZAGS official (speaks Russian only) will give all the information about the papers needed, and also provide a bank account number, where the wedding registration fee of 100 R ($3.3 US) should be transfered (through any SberBank office -- there's one just next to ZAGS, Savelovskaya metro).

3) The future spouses should prepare all the documents needed (Russian passport with registration, Russian visa, foreign passport translated and notary proved, certificate of no impediment to marriage), and pay the registration fee of 100 R. This fee can only be paid through SberBank bank and the receipt should be bought along with the documents to ZAGS.

4) When all the documents are prepared and the fee is paid, the future sposes bring the documents and fee receipt to ZAGS. If all the documents are all right, they will be given an application form, where they need to fill in their personal data. This application form is an official request to process the wedding and should be signed by the both spouses.

5) When the application form is filled in, the spouses bring the application form to a ZAGS inspector, who book a wedding day for them.

6) By Russian laws the wedding should take place between 32 and 60 days after the application form is handled to ZAGS. So, somewhere between 32 and 60 days after the application is handled, a ZAGS official will book a wedding. This 32-day waiting period can be shortened only in cases of emergency (see below how you can shorten this waiting period).

7) Between 32 and 60 days from the application date, the wedding takes place.

8) In the day of wedding the spouses will be given an Government Wedding Certificate. They will also be given an address of the government office, which can stamp this certificate with 'Apostille' stamp (Central ZAGS Archive). This stamp gives this certificate international legitimacy (not only in Russia) and will be the proof of the marriage in the country of the foreigner-spouse.

9) For all questions of getting each others' nationalities or permissions of stay, a Russian spouse should require the embassy of the country where the other spouse is from, and a 'foreign' spouse should inquire in UVIR.

 

How to Get Around the 32-day Waiting Period.

You may need this if you have a tourist visa that is valid only for up to one month or don't have time to wait.


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The easiest way is on the day of your wedding date booking to ask the official, who received your papers, to book an earlier date. You can say that your visa is expiring and that you won't be able to come back to Russia soon. As a proof of this, you should have a copy of your Russian visa ready and a copy of your plane ticket. You will be then sent to the director of ZAGS (directly) and after a short explanatory conversation, be asked to write a detailed claim expaining why you want your wedding date to be earlier than 32 days (say about your visa etc.). Directly after this the director will read it (it should be in Russian, of course) and if she's satisfied, she'll book an earlier date for you. You'll be given an appointment. To increase your chances, don't book any ceremonies, just the simpliest possible form.
But even if you were refused -- don't worry. The certificate to no impediment is valid for at least 3 months, so you can always book a later date and come back to Russia especially for wedding.

The way described above worked with us (because it was true), but might also not work. If you don't want to talk to the director of ZAGS and don't want to come to Russia 2 times, here's what you can do:

 

1) One of the spouses should come to a consulatation to ZAGS and obtain an application form saying that the other spouse is abroad at the moment and can not come.

2) This application form should be send to the other spouse abroad.

3) The spouse who's abroad should fill in this application form on his side and sign it at the presence of a representative of a Russian consulate. Russian consulate should sign and stamp the application form on the reverse side to proof that their representative saw the person signing the paper.

4) After that, the spouse who's abroad should get a marital status paper (Certificate to No Impediment). This paper can be obtained in a townhall (France) or your local Superintendent Registar (UK). After the initial publication and a waiting period (about 21 days) this paper will be issued. It should be legalized with Apostille stamp.

5) The ZAGS application (proved by Russian consulate), the marital status paper should be sent to Russia to the future Russian spouse. He / she should fill in her part of an application form. He / she should bring the marital status paper of a foreign spouse to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Consualte Department to legalize it there. After these documents are ready the future Russian spouse can bring all these papers (along with a fee payment receipt) to ZAGS and book a wedding date. [see the explanation of the process and information on the documents needed]

6) The foreign spouse should come for the wedding in Russia, not forget to translate his / her passport in Russian, and put a notarial proof on this translation.
 


 

What to Do After the Marriage?

After you marry and spend you first night, you'll need to take care of a few more formalities. You will already have a Russian Marriage Certificate, however, you need to make it legal abroad. In order to do that, you need to put Apostille on it (yes, another one). To get it, you should go to Malaya Kharitonievskaya St., #10 in Moscow (ZAGS Central Archive), metro Krasnye Vorota or Chistye Prudy, phone: 923-7089, open: 10.00 to 18.00 mon-fri. You'll queue for about 1 hour and then will have your documents checked. If everything is allright, they will give you their bank account where you should transfer apostille fee (about 100 R - $3.3). One of you can go to SberBank office directly after (located about 15 mins walk) and pay the fee. When you come back with the transfer proof (kvitanstiya), the Archive will accept your documents and in 3-7 w. days they'll be ready. You'll only need to bring them to your embassy, to have your marriage certificate recognized internationally.

In any case, ALWAYS contact your embassy and local authorities to get the directions on how you should act in order to marry. The information here is useful, but may not apply to everybody, so check beforehand.

 

Some Examples of First-Hand Experience

"I married a Russian woman in Finland and was very surprised by how easy and cheap it was. The marriage was free, and the notarization of the document was just eight euros. The waiting period is just seven days!!!
You must bring official documents from your home countries proving that you are single and able to be married, and if they are not in Finnish or English, they must be accompanied by notarized translations.
When we applied to get married, one of the clerks spoke to the other in Finnish, and I distinctly heard her say "Las Vegas" to the other.
I suppose she might have been saying how Helsinki may become the "Las Vegas" of Europe, with such easily performed weddings.
I cannot stress enough how EASY and CHEAP it was. Of course, Finland itself is not cheap to visit, but there are a few quite affordable hotels
in the city(Hotelli Ava, Fenno, Arthur, etc).
And lastly, bring your own beer!!!!! Finnish beer doesn't impress me very much."

"Hello, I am a Russian girl married with a European. Marriage in Russia is NOT complicated. Do you know,
that to marry in Spain, for example, you need the same documents (they are similar in every country if you marry a foreigner) + more documents and there is a JUDGE who decide, can you marry this person or not. This takes about 3 months. In Russia, only YOU decide about your marriage. Also, some consulates do not need APOSTILLE and some Zags do not ask a notary certification of passport translation. Also, you can write an Application for Zags (in Russian) already in Russian Consulate in your country, they have this special form there."

"Thank you very much for saving anyone else all the trouble of running around and repeating the "burning hoops of fire perfomance" to be married in Moscow. Well done.
BRT : ' )"

"I married a Russian lady in six days from landing in Moscow, it took 14 months for her to get immigration to Canada. We are both very happy now, marrying a Russian woman was the smartest thing I ever did!"

"i made a big mistake and got married to a russian girl. i live in ontario and how do i get out of this mess? colin blakemore"

"I disagree with the advice to the German National do it all in England before you go, you need the following.
1) Copy of the last page of your passport
2) Certificate of no Impediment, (you can get this in the UK as an EC citizen)
3) Copy divorce certificate if divorced
4) Application for marriage MUST BE HANDWRITTEN (your fiancee can get the wording for this from the ZAGS for you. or leave a note and I'll email it to you.
Take ALL documents to a Notary Public (not a solicitor or Commissioner of Oaths) and have them notarised.
Send ALL documents to the FCO legalistaion section and have an apostile attached. (see above)
Send ALL documents to the Russian Embassy and have them officially translated and stamped.
You can then courier the documents to Moscow and your fiancee can book a date for the wedding well in advance of your travelling to Moscow.
Much easier than doing anything in Moscow which merely costs you many $ and much hassle."

" I disagree with the advice given to the German national. The local ZAKS (Russian Standesamt) will most likely require the certificate of no impediment (Ehefaehigkeitszeugnis) certified by the GERMAN embassy in Russia. It has obtained accoring to the German and not the UK rules. To obtain such a certificate, you need to contact the German Embassy in the UK. Most likely, they will request additional paperwork from your spouse, such as birth certificate and the proof of her marital status. The latter is very hard to get in Russia, so please consult both your embassy and your future spouse to determine what can constitute such proof. In Germany, it is often suggested that such proof is issued by the local ZAKS. However, most ZAKS's in Russia do not know anything about it and do not issue anything of this kind. In some cases, it is possible that a sworn statement before the notary public from your future spouse (or her parents) is sufficient. In any case, have your future spouse contact the local ZAKS and find out what you will need. In Moscow there is only one ZAKS that performs wedding ceremonies involving non-Russian citizens: ZAKS number 4 (or wedding palace number 4??). In St.Petersburg, s/he would have to go to the Cental ZAKS responsible for weddings with foreign citizens (Tavricheskaya 39, phone 271-39-85). You can also check http://www.wedhelper.com/russia/heiraten.shtml
to find out some general information. Good luck.
P.S. If you are lucky, her/his ZAKS will only require the proof of your marital status (in Germany it would be Meldebescheinigung confirming also that you are not married, I do not know where to get this in the UK)."

 




 

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