On the Internet You can find a lot of (false and true) information about the legal process of getting married in Hungary, so as a local wedding planner having 12 years experience in international and destination weddings I decided to collect the most important tasks You need to do and I wrote a guideline about the documents You will need, if You wish to have an official wedding ceremony as a foreigner in Hungary. In Hungary only the official civil wedding ceremony is considered by the Hungarian State as legally binding.
(I update this writing from time to time. The date of the article shows the date of the last update.)
The exact rules of the legal process of getting married in Hungary as a foreigner might be different as per your home country and your actual marital status, but there are some general information each couple can consider as a basis.
Applying for the marriage license
As a general rule, both the bride and the groom need to apply for the marriage license personally at the geographically competent registry office. Competency is determined by the location of the wedding ceremony (i.e. if the wedding ceremony is in city Sopron, then You need to go to Sopron to apply for the license. In Budapest, there is a registry office in each district, so if You have a ceremony at e.g. in the Castle District, which is District I, then You will need to go to the registry office of District I, etc.). The legal process takes appr. 3-4 months, so ideally the application must be submitted 3-4 months before the wedding. It’s important that You needn’t be resident during these months. It’s just one visit and takes 1 hour.
You will need an interpreter, since the language of the procedure is Hungarian. The interpreter needn’t be a certified one, but he/she cannot be a family member of any of You. Usually, it used to be the local wedding planner or a friend (the interpreting at the registry office is included in all of our packages). The language of interpreting needn’t be your language, it can be English, if You understand English well.
Documents You will need
This part also varies as per your home country and marital status, but there are some common points. We will provide the exact list after concluding a contract with us and examining your “status”. But basically You will need the followings:
certificate about your marital status (see in details below);
ID or document certifying your permanent address.
Extra documents in special cases:
decree of divorce (if divorced);
official document certifying your widow status;
official document about your name change (if you changed your name, which is indicated on your birth certificate).
Attested translation of documents
The non-Hungarian birth certificates and Certificate of No Impediment (or similar) and the documents listed as extra above must be translated by the Hungarian Office for Translation and Attestation Ltd. (OFFI in Hungarian). Only translations of OFFI are accepted! To be able to pick up the attested translations your local wedding planner will need the original documents. OFFI works with 3-10-day deadlines. Prices vary as per the deadline and the language and it is calculated on the basis of the length of the text. The so-called attested translation is needed. Attestation is provided by OFFI.
Certificate of Marital Status
Earlier couples needed a so-called No Impediment Declaration, but the laws changed here in Hungary, so now you need to prove only your marital status (the previous certificate also certified that there are no legal obstacle of your marriage in your home country). It proves that You are unmarried/divorced/widowed. The authority issuing this paper can vary in each country, but basically it used to be the Ministry of Interiors. The deadline and price of getting this document vary in each country. Please check these infos in time! Some countries do not issue this kind of certificate (e.g. Canada, Israel, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine). In this case the bride/groom needs to prove the same content in another way, which varies as per the given country, but if you tell us your nationality, we can ask from the Hungarian Authority what documents you need exactly.
However Hungary has bilateral diplomatic agreements with numerous countries, as per which no Apostille attestation/stamp is needed on the documents of given legal procedures (like marriage), still there are some countries, in the case of which You will need this. Apostille is provided by the consulate. We will tell You, if You need this or not.
For the official wedding ceremony in Hungary 2 witnesses are needed, 1 for the bide and 1 for the groom independently from their nationality. Foreigner also can be your witness. Their data and copy of their passports will be needed before the wedding.
In Hungary no proximity marriage is possible.
Age at the marriage
You need to be 18-year-old, when applying for the marriage license, however with the consent of the parents children between age 14 and 18 can get married.
In Hungary same-sex marriage is not possible, however same-sex couples can be registered in domestic/civil partnership also if they are foreign citizens.
Official wedding ceremony
The ceremony can be held in the wedding hall of the competent registry office or at any location chosen by You (e.g. at the hotel or restaurant, where the reception will take place). Different fees apply in these cases, please check this at your local wedding planner! The language of the official civil ceremony is Hungarian, so an interpreter will be needed also here. There is no need for certified interpreter, so it can be the wedding mc or a friend speaking both Hungarian and a language what the foreigner bride/groom understands well.
Beside the obligatory official parts (I does) registrars are open to include tailor-made elements into the wedding ceremony. In Hungary, an average wedding ceremony consists of the following parts:
welcome of the Couple and guests;
official part with the I does;
undersigning (since we have electronic register in Hungary, only a memorial is undersigned by the couple and their witnesses);
change of the rings, first wedded kiss;
greeting of the parents (with e.g. a bouquet);
your vows (optional);
ceremony symbolizing your common lives onwards (e.g. unity sand ceremony);
Advantages and disadvantages
The biggest advantage of an official wedding ceremony is that it is official. :D It means that it has legal effect and it can be nationalized and get acknowledged in your country.
Disadvantages are the costs (flight tickets, since You both need to come here in person when applying for the marriage license; attested translations, etc.), the duration of 3-4 months, paperwork and the impersonality in big cities or busy districts of Budapest, where wedding ceremonies are held in each half hour on Saturdays. For this latter, weekdays don’t serve as a solution, since the registry offices undertake only 1-2 weekday weddings in a month!
If You decide not to go with an official wedding ceremony, You still have the opportunity to make a symbolic one, about which we happily give more information.