Dutch federal law stipulates who can marry or become legally partnered in the Netherlands, but it is the municipality (‘gemeente’) that processes the request and administers the ceremony. Find out about marriage and registered partnerships in Holland below…
It is important to be aware of the documentation required at different stages in the application process whether you’re a Dutch national or an expat living in the Netherlands.
In simplified terms, the municipality needs to confirm a) the identity of both individuals, b) that both are legally able to enter into the relationship (i.e. his/her current legal marital status), c) that at least one is a legal resident in the Netherlands and d) the identity of each witness.
If both persons are registered in the BRP (municipal database of private individuals) and the records are up-to-date, most of the required documentation will already be on file. If one or both persons is not registered in the BRP, or is a foreign national, additional documentation will be required. Be aware that receiving such documents from another country can take several weeks or months, so it is best to request these documents as early as possible. Also note that foreign documents need to be legalized or apostilled.
– Copy of legal identification for both persons
– Copy of divorce decree or notice of death if either person has been previously married or in a registered partnership and the divorce or death has not yet been entered into the BRP
– Copy of recent birth certificate if this has not already been registered in the BRP.
– Declaration of residency / nationality / marital status if a person is foreign.
– Copy of legal identification for witnesses (minimum 2 / maximum 4 persons)
More information regarding who can marry or enter into a registered partnership in the Netherlands can be found on the government website.
NOTICE OF INTENT
The first step is to register your intent to marry or to enter into a registered partnership. This is done by completing the municipal form and either submitting it online or in person at your local city hall (‘gemeente’). The document must be signed by both persons. There is no charge for submitting an intent to marry.
The municipality will then alert you to any additional documents needed to supplement the information available in the BRP.
BOOKING A DATE
Once any additional documentation requested has been received and approved by the municipality, you will be able to book a date for the ceremony. The first available date will always be a minimum of 2 weeks from the date of submission and could be longer based on availability. It is possible to schedule a ceremony up to one year in advance.
TYPES OF MARRIAGE CEREMONY IN HOLLAND
There are 3 types of ceremony: regular, simple and free.
A regular marriage or registered partnership ceremony takes place in an approved wedding venue of your choice and is conducted by a Dutch civil registrar. In many municipalities, the marriage application can be completed online or in person. Once the date, venue and registrar have been selected, the intent to marry form (signed by both persons) is submitted along with proof of identification for both persons as well as proof of identification for each witness.
Approximately 2-3 weeks before the ceremony, the couple will be contacted by the civil registrar assigned to officiate the wedding or registered partnership ceremony. The registrar will schedule a time to meet with the couple to learn more about them, their witnesses and their key guests at the wedding so that the script used during the ceremony can be personalized. The couple can ask the registrar any questions they may have regarding the ceremony and discuss if either or both persons will be reciting their own vows. Note: wedding vows are not exchanged during a registered partnership ceremony.
A simple or free ceremony is small and takes place in a municipal office, with just the couple, the witnesses and, if requested, a photographer. The ceremony itself lasts approximately 10 minutes and is conducted by a civil registrar assigned by the city. The script used is generic and cannot be customized. Simple and free ceremonies are only offered on certain days of the week and the first available date may be several months in advance.
CERTIFICATE OF MARRIAGE
A standard Dutch marriage certificate will be issued once the ceremony is completed. Additional versions of the certificate, such as an international extract, can be requested for a fee.
Further information about getting married or entering into a registered partnership in the Netherlands can be found on the government website.