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Updated: Jun 28, 2019

Registration of marriages in the territory of Ukraine

If are going to get married with a Ukrainian woman or man, then please accept our sincere congratulation. However, please take into account that some paper work must be done before the wedding party. In general, the process is not difficult yet problems do happen. Let us share with you our experience that we’ve obtained in this field not because of a number of personal unsuccessful marriages (thank God) but in course of providing our legal services.

The first step on the way for getting married is…yes love but speaking about formal proceedings we mean… submission of the mutual application by the fiancé and fiancée. This application is submitted to a special body of the state registration of acts of civil status. Those who are going to get married must have heard about ZAGS (in the Russian language) or RAGS (in the Ukrainian language).

This ZAGS/RAGS is nothing else as this special state institution. All over Ukraine there are also special offices called Centers of Providing Administrative Services that also accept documents for a marriage registration. Hereinafter we will call all such places as “ZAGS” as it is more commonly used among both locals and foreigners. You can freely choose and submit the application to any ZAGS throughout Ukraine disregarding a place you and your fiancée/fiancé are registered at.

The general rule is that both of you should submit the application to ZAGS personally. However, if you or your sweetheart cannot personally submit the application, then the one who cannot do so should visit a notary office and notarize his/her signature on the application and issue a notarized power of attorney (POA) authorizing someone to submit the application on his/her behalf.

Actually, not only one but both of the applicants can sign the application in a notary office and submit it through their representatives. This can be done also abroad but this variant requires legalization / apostillization of the notarized signature and POA, if otherwise is not determined by law.

By submitting the application Ukrainian citizens should provide their passports. Foreigners should provide, if otherwise is not determined by law, an identification document containing a check proving their legitimate stay in Ukraine. This could be a visa, temporary or permanent residency certificate or a last stamp affixed by the customs service. Such foreign IDs (e.g. passport) must be translated into the Ukrainian language by a certified translator whose signature on the translation must be notarized.

Those who have been previously married should provide a document certifying termination of that marriage. Such a document could be a certificate of marriage termination, court decision, death certificate, etc. Documents issued outside of Ukraine should be legalized / apostilled, if otherwise is not determined by law, translated into the Ukrainian language by a certified translator whose signature on the translation must be notarized.

All documents prepared in a foreign language should be translated into the Ukrainian language by a qualified translator and notarized. The translation could also be certified by a diplomatic office or consulate of Ukraine or of the foreigner’s country, by a ministry of foreign affairs or another authorized body. However, it is better to translate and notarize the documents in Ukraine because in all of the other cases you will need to legalize / apostil these translations as well.

After the application and other documents are submitted, you will agree on the date of marriage registration that under the general rule cannot be sooner than in one month from the date of your application. However, having a reasonable excuse you and your soon-to-be-spouse can ask for an urgent marriage registration. There is no exhaustive list of such reasonable excuses. It can be pregnancy, business trip to another country, illness, etc. However, it is not enough to say you have a reasonable excuse. You will need to prove it. Pregnancy or illness can be proved by a health certificate, business trip can be proved by the employer’s letter, etc. A ZAGS is free to decide at its own discretion whether your excuse is reasonable enough.

Remember that marriage registration is carried out only in personal presence of both fiancé and fiancée. This cannot be done via representatives. If the fiancé or/and fiancée cannot be personally present at the ZAGS because of a reasonable excuse, then you can ask for the ceremony to be performed outside. Requirements to the “reasonable excuse” are the same as mentioned above.

Recognition of foreign marriages

When you get married outside of Ukraine your marriage is not automatically recognized by Ukraine. To do so you have to provide ZAGS with a translated and legalized / apostilled, if necessary, official document certifying your marriage registration by the relevant country.

Proof of marriage

The marriage is certified by a marriage certificate.

When you get married in Ukraine information about your marriage is recorded into a special register. However, when you get married abroad and legalize / apostille your marriage information, then your marriage is not always recorded to the register by default. To be sure your marriage is added to the register you better go to a ZAGS with your legalized marriage certificate and make sure your marriage is either already there or a ZAGS officer will add your marriage to the register. It is not obligatory to have your marriage in that register. But we would advise having it there because in the future it may make your life easier.

A few tips

Actually, that is all. However, having some experience in this matter we would also suggest doing the following before going to a ZAGS:

  1. make copies of all documents you need and try to get texts of those documents you do not have for now;

  2. take all documentation and texts available and visit a consultant in a ZAGS of your choice; and

  3. make sure that your ZAGS is happy with the documents you have or which you will obtain.

The above 3 steps will minimize your time and money expenses.

In our practice we had experience when:

  • A fiancé provided his translated and legalized marriage dissolution judgment that in fact was a kind of another judgment. So, he had to get another document in court, to legalize and translate it and then urgently mail it to Ukraine.

  • ZAGS officials refused to accept the dissolution judgment because at their opinion (in fact they were wrong) the provided document was merely an application for divorce. The problem was solved simply by applying to another ZAGS.

  • A marital status certificate contained the fiancé’s name in the Ukrainian language that differed from the same name in other documents provided to ZAGS because different translators did translation of different documents. The fiancé had to translate and notarize some documents one more time to have all the documents correspond with each other.

  • A letter from the fiancé’s employer was not good enough to prove the urgency of marriage registration. The fiancé had to ask his employer to issue another letter, the text of which was agreed with ZAGS in advance, then to urgently mail it to Ukraine, translate and notarize it.

  • Instead of legalizing a foreign marriage certificate a Ukrainian consulate certified its translation into the Ukrainian language (it was either their mistake or the fiancé gave them wrong instructions). The fiancé had to visit the Ukrainian consulate one more time to have the consulate correct this mistake.

Contact Legal Ideas law firm to get advice on your personal case.

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