how to get married in russiaFor some couples with foreign partner(USA, EU, Canada), to get married in Russia may be the only option. For couples like these who struggle to find full and reliable list of documents to do that I dedicate this blog post.

There is no point in arguing about unbreakable Russian bureaucratic system. Unfortunately, you either try your best to obey it or choose another country to get married. But trying to change the system is as impossible as changing the spots on a leopard.

So what are the documents you will need in case you decide to get married in Russia?

If you are already in Russia, I advise you to go to the main ZAGS (civil marriage registry office) of that particular town and ask them what they need in terms of documents. Why? Because in many cases the list of documents given by your embassy website will not be good enough. Also documents may differ from ZAGS to ZAGS. This is quite typical of Russia. Every little authority makes up their own rules to feel more significant. However, if you are not in Russia yet, ask your fiancée to go to ZAGS and inquire about the necessary paperwork.

The documents my husband needed were the following:

1. Birth certificate.
It has to be an original. A copy will not be enough. You will have to give it for translation into Russian. ZAGS will be able to advise you on what translation firm to use. Use the services of this firm, because this means ZAGS will definitely recognize their work. The translation will also have to be certified. But usually every translation firm also handles the certification for extra money. Thus, indicate it in the very beginning: the document has to be translated and certified (or as Russians say – notarized).

2. Divorce certificate.
If you were ever divorced, you will have to get the court act that states that your previous marriage has been discontinued. For this particular document you will need “Apostil” stamp. This type of stamp is not recognized by the US but the US government still issues them for those who need. So call the court that handled your divorce and order this document with the “Apostil”.

3. Proof of address.
And that’s where I would like to introduce you to the term propiska. Since no other county demands such document as propiska, there is one way around it. If you own a house somewhere, take the document that proves it. Certify it at your local attorney’s office and bring it to Russia. In Russia it will have to go through translation and certification as well. However, it you don’t own a property, certify (at attorney’s office) a couple of bills that come to your address and has your name on it. That should be enough for the proof of address.

4. Valid passport.
Your passport has to be valid at leas for the next 8 months. Thus, if it expires in 6 months, better get a new one.

5. Visa registration.
When you arrive to Russia your fiancée supposed to register you though the post office. Do not lose this little piece of paper. You will need it not only to get married but also to leave the country.

6. Marriage letter.
Some ZAGS’s may or may not require this document. You can order it from the embassy of your country in Russia. This letter basically states that at this moment you are not married to anyone else. The form for it you may find on the Internet, but it has to be notarized at the embassy(my husband did not need that when we were getting merrier).

7. Passport translation.
The information page of your passport will have to be translated and certified as well. You will be able to do it at the translation firm that ZAGS will recommend. As I mentioned before, the requirements may differ from ZAGS to ZAGS, thus it is better to speak with the officer that signs marriage acts face to face. This way you will know the exact list to prepare before applying for marriage license.

Note: The ceremony could be executed only in the presence of interpreter. You will be able to hire him/her at the same transition firm that ZAGS will recommend you.

I guess it is necessary in case a foreign groom has no clue what’s been going on around him for the past few months. And yes, there will be three of you standing at the altar.

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