Obtaining recognition of a marriage performed abroad

With respect to recognition of marriages, the principle is that a marriage which is validly entered into under the law of the State where the marriage takes place, or that later becomes valid in that State, must be recognised by any other State.

A couple married abroad has a clear interest in having that marriage recognised in Luxembourg if they decide to move there – particularly for reasons of tax, social security and establishing the parentage of children.

The Luxembourg authorities will not necessarily be aware of a marriage celebrated abroad, so it is important to follow specific procedures to have the marriage officially recognised in Luxembourg.

Who is concerned

This applies to the following people:

  • a Luxembourg resident who marries a national of a third country in that third country or in another foreign country (whether an EU Member State or not) and wishing to reside legally in Luxembourg;
  • a national of a third country (whether an EU Member State or not) having entered into a marriage abroad (in the EU or outside it) and wishing to reside legally in Luxembourg.

How to proceed

Application for recognition of a foreign marriage

To obtain recognition of a marriage celebrated abroad, both spouses must appear before the civil registrar of the commune where they live. The following documents are required for obtaining recognition:

  • a valid ID card for Luxembourg nationals;
  • a valid passport for foreign nationals;
  • a marriage certificate duly certified pursuant to the laws of the country where the marriage was celebrated.
The civil registrar will verify the spouses' domiciles when the file is prepared.

Any civil status act (such as a marriage) between Luxembourg nationals and foreigners performed in a foreign country will be honoured in Luxembourg if carried out in accordance with the proper procedures of that country. Marriage certificates prepared by the competent foreign authorities and concerning Luxembourg nationals may be transcribed into the civil status register of their domicile.

Therefore, as long as proof of the marriage is provided by producing the marriage certificate (prepared in accordance with the formal requirements of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated), the marriage must be presumed to have been established before the Luxembourgish authorities, since Luxembourgish law recognises civil status documents issued abroad.

It should be noted that a marriage between 2 persons of the same gender, validly celebrated before 1 January 2015, will be recognised in Luxembourg on condition that the following conditions are complied with:

  • the required formalities in the foreign country;
  • the applicable law depending on the personal status of each individual (such as single people, minors, etc.);
  • international treaties;
  • Luxembourg marriage law.

Reasons for refusal of an application for recognition

The civil registrar may refuse to recognise the validity of a marriage if, under Luxembourg law, at the time of the marriage, one of the spouses:

  • was already married; or
  • was related to the other spouse within one degree in a direct line, or was the other spouse's sibling by birth or adoption; or
  • had not reached the minimum required age to marry and had not obtained a dispensation; or
  • was mentally incapable of giving valid consent; or
  • had not freely consented to the marriage.
Recognition may also be refused if it is manifestly incompatible with Luxembourg public policy (such as in the case of polygamy).

Who to contact

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