You have decided to tie the knot with your loved one in the Netherlands. But how do you get married as an expat in the Netherlands? Here is everything you need to know; from the bureaucratic hurdles you have to overcome to how the actual wedding ceremony will go!
Hire a wedding planner
Planning a wedding is stressful enough without being an expat in a new country. What reception venue will be available? What food will you serve? Will you have a live band or a DJ? Luckily, you don't need to do everything yourself. Make sure things go smoothly and enlist the help of a wedding planner for internationals, such as:
Criteria for getting married in the Netherlands
However, before you even get into the details, you should find out whether or not you fulfil the criteria / requirements. You are not allowed to enter into a marriage in the Netherlands if you:
- (or your partner) are not registered in the local municipality.
- are already married or part of a registered partnership.
- are under the age of 18.
- want to marry a blood relative.
If you fulfil these criteria then you can start the process.
Marriage notice (Ondertrouw)
The first thing you need to do is to give notice of your intention to marry (ondertrouw), at least two weeks before the ceremony itself. You can do this at your local municipality office, so long as you or your partner is officially registered at that office.
Note that once you have received this notice you have to have your marriage within 12 months, otherwise the notice becomes invalid and you will have to apply again.
There may be other documents required in this procedure, such as your birth certificate and proof that you have divorced from any previous marriages or partnerships.
The ceremony must be performed by a registered and qualified member of the municipality. You will meet with this person some days before the ceremony.
In the Netherlands, you can choose to have your ceremony at a building specifically arranged for the purpose by the municipality, or have your ceremony at a location chosen by you and your partner, though this will cost extra.
It is also possible to have a simplified ceremony for much cheaper, and there are certain times when it is possible to have your ceremony for free. However, these events usually only last a few minutes, have no music and only a small number of guests can be invited. For more information you should visit the website of your local municipality.
Registering a marriage not held in the Netherlands
If you are arriving to the Netherlands already married to your partner, you are obliged to register the marriage with your local municipality. In order to do this you will need to present a legalised or authenticated marriage certificate, and this procedure differs depending on the country in which you were married.