As you will know after reading my earlier post, Documents Required for an American to Marry an Italian in Italy - Part 1: The Atto Notorio, getting married to an Italian citizen as an American citizen in Italy is no easy task. The atto notorio was just the first step, although for me it was perhaps the hardest one.
Once you have that document in hand, you can move on to the next steps in the process, which I will outline for you below.
The Nulla Osta
First of all, I have to point out that the nulla osta is also known as a dichiarazione giurata, which was very confusing to me, since some websites/governmental offices use the first term and others use the second. But I can assure you that they are the same thing. Whatever you want to call it, it is a sworn statement that, in this case, states that there are no impediments to you getting married. It proves in writing that you are allowed to get married in Italy, so it is one of the main documents you need.
If this sounds similar to the purpose of the atto notorio... it is. But the government needs both, so I didn't ask questions (although I did complain to my then-fiance about it a bit).
This document is a bit simpler to get, though... if you are not trying to get it during a Covid-19 lockdown like I was. Here's the breakdown:
- Make an appointment - The first step to getting the nulla osta is to make an appointment with the American Embassy in Italy that is closest to where you are living. You can find a list of their locations, complete with contact information, on the official U.S. Embassy website.
- Print and fill out the form - Before your appointment, you need to print out the nulla osta form (you can find the one for the Milan embassy here, but others can easily be found via an internet search or a look around on the embassy's website). Don't sign it though!! Leave the signature space blank so that you can sign it in front of the official at the embassy. This is what makes it legal.
- Have $50 ready - This part is a bit frustrating, and you will understand why when I tell you what the appointment consists of in the next step. You should check your local embassy to be sure, but at the U.S. Embassy in Milan, the cost of getting a nulla osta stamped and approved was $50 or "the equivalent in euros." You can pay with either cash or a credit card.
- Go to the appointment - Show up for your appointment with your money, completed form, and passport in hand. They will ask you questions about where you plan to get married and may or may not look at the other documents I listed in the atto notorio article, depending on the embassy (I just brought every document I had, just in case. I always prefer to be over-prepared than under-prepared).
Then you will most likely have to sit down and wait a bit to see the official who approves these forms (even if you are the only person there, like I was). After a few minutes I was then called to a window (the U.S. Embassy was a lot like the U.S. DMV), exchanged some small talk, and the official watched me sign the form and put a stamp on it. Then he charged me $50 for the pleasure. The whole thing took mere minutes once I finally got the appointment and got through all the metal detectors and security checks!
So now you have the nulla osta. Great! But don't celebrate yet: as is the case with almost all Italian bureaucratic things... that isn't the end of it. A nulla osta isn't actually valid until it is legalized at the prefettura - a completely different place that you will probably have to go to on a completely different day. Luckily, aside from the lost time (and money), the process there is fairly straightforward as well.
- Make an appointment - You can usually do this online, and you may not even need an appointment if things ever get back to normal after the pandemic is over. One possible issue is that the people working at the prefettura have a tendency to not answer the phone... so you may have to call or email multiple times in order to get your questions answered and get an appointment set. If you aren't fluent in Italian yet, you may want to get your future spouse to make these arrangements, since, unlike the U.S. Embassy, the prefettura's default language is Italian, not English (and rightly so).
- Buy a marca da bollo - You can get these stamps, which are used to legalize almost every legal document you will ever sign in Italy, for 16 euros at any tabaccheria.
- Don't forget your nulla osta! - When you go to the prefettura, bring your nulla osta and the marca da bollo. Once there, the officials will approve it and stamp it, making it an official legal document. Note: If for some reason you can't go to the prefettura on your own to do this, your future spouse can do it for you, or you can even have a third party do it, as long as you have them bring the email confirming your appointment and the documents as proof.
Publication of the Banns
Still with me? Still wanting to get married to your Italian fiance? Good! We're in the home stretch now. Once you have the atto notorio and the legalized nulla osta, you are ready to take everything you have gathered to the Comune, or city hall, in your town. Once there, you will meet with a Civil Registrar, who will check all of your paperwork and, if it is all there and all correct, will publish the marriage banns.
The marriage banns are published on the website for your community, and are basically the equivalent of the "if anyone can show just cause why this couple cannot lawfully be joined together in matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace" part of a wedding ceremony. They declare to the entire community that you and your fiance are going to get married, and that if anyone objects to it, they have to do it within a certain amount of time. The banns are posted for eight to fifteen consecutive days (it depends on your town, so be sure to check), and two of those days must be Sundays. Then, once that time has passed and no one has objected, you have 180 days to get married.
So, the last step in this arduous process is to make an appointment at your Comune and bring with you the following things:
- atto notorio
- signed, legalized nulla osta
- legalized birth certificate
- your passport (and a copy of the signature page)
- your fiance's passport/ID (and a copy of the signature page)
- Form requesting the marriage banns (check your Comune's website for this, as it varies, and you may even just have to fill one out at the Comune)
- Form stating when and where you plan to get married
- Any other documents you have completed along the way
- Patience (In my experience, the actual visit to the Comune was a bit aggravating due to wait times and the general air of annoyance in the building. This is a busy place, so not everyone will be smiley and happy to help you! But this may not be the case everywhere.)
Then, after your meeting with the registrar, at long (long, long...) last, you will be legally allowed to get married in either a civil ceremony or a church. I won't lie and say that this is the end of the paperwork you will have to do if you want to live in Italy... but for now this is all you need to have a wedding and start your happily ever after in Italy with the Italian you love. Auguri!
Are you an American getting married in Italy to an Italian? Or have you done so already? What are your thoughts on this process? Let us know in the comments!