Will a marriage that has been concluded in another country be recognised in Germany?

In general, marriage contracts that have been concluded in a foreign country do no require additional recognition in Germany. It is possible to file a request for the certification of a marriage contract to be included in the marriage register if one of the marriage partners holds the German citizenship.

The requirements for concluding a marriage con-tract are subject to the legislation of the country of origin. A marriage contract that has been conclu-ded in the country of origin is also valid in Germany and will be officially recognised if the material and legal requirements for marriage (e.g. unmarried status, minimum age) were met by both partners in the country of origin at the time when the marriage was concluded and if the marriage has been recog-nised in the country of origin (according to section 13 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code). Exemptions from the recognition of mar-riages can be made if a foreign legal norm violates the public policy doctrine (the so-called “ordre public”). That is, if a foreign marriage is obviously irreconcilable with the basic principles of German law, it will not be recognised and therefore con-sidered invalid in Germany.

An assessment regarding the violation of the basic principles of German law (see section 6 of the Introductory Act to the German Civil Code) can only happen on an individual case basis and requires consideration of the special charac-teristics of the foreign legislation. A violation has been presumed if, for example, it is legal to marry at the age of 14 in the country of origin.