Information about the procedures that must be followed before a wedding can take place...
The intention to marry (notice of engagement or ondertrouw) must be made at the local municipality (Gemeente) or Town Hall (Stadhuis, Afdeling Huwelijkszaken) of the district of residence of one of the couple wishing to marry. This is the notice of marriage and must be done no less than two weeks and no more than a year before the wedding (huwelijk) is planned to take place.
Note: The same notice of engagement must be declared for couples who wish to enter into a Registered Partnership (geregistreerd partnerschap). Many municipalities use 'wedding' and 'Registered Partnership' interchangeably when talking about the formalities.
The municipal office issues a brochure detailing the documents needed. These may vary depending on nationality, previous marriages and residence status in the Netherlands. It is advisable to have documents ready at the time of announcing the intention to marry.
Required documents for both partners include:
- A full birth certificate
- Proof of identity
- Document of authorisation from a legal guardian (if under 18)
- Extract from the municipality registry (Basisregistratie Personen, BRP) declaring marital status and nationality
- A marriage certificate in the case of a previous marriage with divorce decree in the case of a previous divorce or death certificate in the case of being widowed
- Foreign nationals who do not have a permanent residence permit (verblijfsvergunning voor onbepaalde tijd) will need to complete Form M46 (issued by Immigratie en Natutalisatiedienst IND), available from the Town Hall. This form starts a process to ensure that the marriage or partnership is not one of convenience. The process can take up to three months
- Foreign nationals may also need to present a certificate of no impediment to marriage or certificate of civil status proving they are not married elsewhere. Although a foreign national may have already presented this document during their residency application it is likely that a new certificate will need to be issued from the home country or the last country of residence, depending on the details listed on the BRP.
Note: A certificate of no impediment to marriage is issued after a notice of marriage has been displayed at the Consulate General for 21 days, and if no objection has been made about the proposed marriage. It is issued in Dutch.
Completed witness forms for the two to four witnesses (they must be 18 or older) should be presented at this time.
Note: There may be a requirement that foreign documents (birth, marriage, divorce and death certificates) be legalised with an Apostille. This can be done by the relevant Consular office.
Dutch marriage confers community of property onto the married couple meaning that debts and assets held by each partner before and after the marriage are shared. A pre-nuptial agreement that circumvents this may be made before the marriage. This must be drafted by a notary and entered in a matrimonial property register at the municipality where the marriage notice is placed.
Before the ceremony
Once the documents have been presented to the Town Hall a date and venue for the ceremony may be selected. There is a minimum of two weeks delay between making the notice of marriage and the day of the civil ceremony.
During this period the couple will meet with the marrying official. In some areas arrangements can be made with a marrying official for the ceremony (all but the vows themselves, which legally must be in Dutch) to be held in English.
The civil ceremony may take place in a municipal district other than that of residence but the municipal office must be informed so that arrangements for moving documents can be made.
The civil marriage ceremony must take place before a religious ceremony. The civil ceremony must be conducted with the witnesses (who must present identity documents). The process is very brief, generally taking less than a half-hour.
The cost of the wedding ceremony can vary from city to city however in some places there are time slots when wedding ceremonies are free, for example in The Hague, it is free on Monday mornings at 09:00 and 09:30 and in Rotterdam on Wednesdays from 09:00 to 09:20.
Note: The free slots are usually booked months in advance. Smaller municipalities may have a shorter waiting list.
A Marriage Certificate (proof of the marriage) is available from the local sub municipal office of the place where the marriage was held. It may be issued at the time of the marriage.