People who want to get married must declare their intention to do so to the registrar of the Civil Registry at least 14 days before the date of the marriage. The declaration is made in the municipality in which one of the prospective spouses resides or is registered in the Population Register, the Register of Non-nationals or the Waiting Register.
Prospective spouses who are registered in the Population Register or the Register of Non-nationals must provide the following documents:
- a copy of the birth certificate of each of the prospective spouses. The registrar will request a copy if the prospective spouses were born in Belgium or if their birth certificate was transcribed in Belgium
- proof of identity
- if there is a marriage contract, you must provide a certificate from the notary who drew it up
Prospective spouses who are not registered in the Population Register or the Register of Non-nationals must also present the following evidence:
- proof of nationality
- evidence of not being married or, where applicable, of the dissolution or annulment of a previous marriage
- proof of residence
The registrar decides whether the documents presented are adequate. When the prospective spouses cannot present the documents required, the registrar will refuse to record the declaration.
The parties concerned may appeal against the registrar’s refusal. That appeal must be lodged with the Court of First Instance within a month of notification of the decision.
Until the day of the wedding, an objection to the marriage can be made. However, this must be justified.
The marriage ceremony is held in the municipality of the place where the declaration of marriage was made, at least 14 days and at most six months after that declaration.
That ceremony takes place in the presence of the mayor or the alderman with civil registry responsibilities. The presence of witnesses is optional in a civil marriage. If the prospective spouses decide to get married in the presence of witnesses, they can choose no more than four. Those witnesses do not necessarily have to be relatives of one of the prospective spouses.
The registrar reads a number of articles of the civil code relating to the respective rights and duties of the spouses. They cannot derogate from those rights and duties, even in the event of a marriage contract.
The reciprocal rights and duties include:
- the duty of help and assistance
Next, the registrar asks each prospective spouse whether they wish to take the other as their spouse. After the spouses give their consent, the registrar declares in the name of the law that the spouses are united in marriage.
The registrar immediately draws up the marriage certificate. That certificate is entered in the registers of civil status proving that the marriage has been contracted.
The spouses then receive a marriage booklet, in which a record may be kept of, for example, children to be born and, possibly, the parish in which any religious marriage ceremony takes place.
For more information on marriage formalities, consult the civil status service in your municipality or a notary.
Federal Ministry of Justice
Updated on 9 November 2020