As of July 18, 1982, both civil and religious marriage ceremonies may be performed in Greece according to Greek law number 1250. This law also legalized all civil marriages performed abroad between a Greek citizen and an alien prior to this date. Previously, the Greek State recognized only religious ceremonies.
Foreign nationals in Greece ay be married either in a civil ceremony by a mayor, in a religious ceremony by a priest, or both. Although there is no residency requirement for foreign nationals 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, are generally accepted and in some instances required 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 they do 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 honoring 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. The marriage license should be endorsed with the APOSTILLE certification in accordance with the 1961 Hague Convention. The APOSTILLE certification is a special authentication for documents to be used outside the United States and can be obtained from 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 Greek 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 resident 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). At the time of entry into the country, a stamp must be placed in the passport showing the date and place of entry. If the first port of entry is another Schengen state, the entry stamp should be placed in the passport upon entry into that country. Persons who lack port of entry stamps will not be able to perform or register their marriage.
The following documents are required for a Greek marriage license for ceremonies performed in Greece involving American citizens:
- A passport or other travel document
- A certified copy of the birth certificate, along with an official translation. Official translations can be obtained at the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Translation Department, Arionos 10, Athens, tel. 210 328-5713, 210 328-5717. The translation may take up to a week to prepare. (See also note on page 4).
- If applicable, documentary evidence (death certificate or final/irrevocable divorce decree) of the termination of a previous marriage (the most recent, if more than one), along with an official translation.
Note: All civil documents (birth, death, divorce, etc.,) must be endorsed with an APOSTILLE Certification, which can be obtained from the Secretary of State of the issuing state.
- 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 un-dissolved 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 Notarial Unit is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Greek and American holidays and the last Wednesdays of each month. In Thesaloniki, the Consulate General performs notarial services on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00p.m., Greek and American holidays excepted.
- A copy of the newspaper in which the wedding notice is published. Wedding notices should be published in one of the local newspapers in the Greek language (the names should be phonetically written in Greek and not in Latin Characters) before the application for a marriage license is submitted. In small towns where newspapers are not published, notices are posted by the mayor or president of the community at the City Hall or Community Office.