Marriage to a Ukrainian Citizen
Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens marrying a person from a different country. Getting married to a Ukrainian citizen with the goal of eventually bringing them to Canada to live is a process with many steps.
If you want to bring your Ukrainian spouse or partner to live in Canada, you must then file a sponsorship application for them to become a permanent resident. If they would like to visit you in Canada while their application is in process, they must also apply for a visitor visa. For more information, please see our family sponsorship page and our visitor visa page.
Ukrainian Marriage Basic Requirements
Getting married in the Ukraine to a Ukrainian spouse is relatively simple. If you are a Canadian citizen there are a few differences with other foreign nationalities because Canada does not have a central statistical registry of marriages, and Canada is not a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention. But these have fairly straightforward solutions which will be explained below.
The procedure for getting married is as follows:
The legal age for marriage in the Ukraine for a woman is 17 years. The legal age for marriage for a male in the Ukraine is 18 years.
Application for Marriage Registration
To apply to have your marriage registered you should do so in person at the local RAGS (Department of Vital Statistics and Civil Status) in the Ukraine nearest to the residence of your Ukrainian partner. It is sometimes abbreviated as ZAGS. You should both be there in person when applying, although you may use a legal representative instead (but not when actually getting married). If unable to attend personally to the application for registration of marriage, your application must be certified by a notary and presented by your legal representative. In general, you, as a foreigner in the Ukraine, will need the following documents when applying for registration of your marriage:
From the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv you must obtain:
- A Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage: this statement replaces the Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage seeing Canada does not have a central registry of marriage statistics.
- A Statutory Declaration on Marital Status: along with your Statement in Lieu of, these two documents are required by the RAGS when marrying a Ukrainian citizen as proof of your eligibility to be married.
You must report to the consular section of the Canadian Embassy during working hours: 9 AM – 12 PM Monday to Thursday. You must bring:
- A valid Canadian Passport;
- Birth certificate, if born in Canada, OR
- Canadian citizenship certificate, if born abroad (see below on how to authenticate your birth or citizenship certificate);
- I.D. card like a driver’s license;
- 5The identification page of your passport (name, date of birth, number of passport etc.), which must be translated into Ukrainian by a licensed Translation Agency and legalized by a licensed notary;
- The fee of CAD $50, which must be paid in cash at the embassy, in Ukrainian Hrivnyas, American dollars, or Canadian dollars. You will receive an official receipt.
As well, your Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage and your Statutory Declaration must be legalized and authenticated at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine located at:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Section of Legalization of Documents
2 Velyka Zhytomyrska St.
Monday to Friday: 9 AM – 12 PM
If you have been previously married you will need the original copy of your final divorce certificate. As Canada is not a signatory to the Hague Apostille Convention, you will have to have it authenticated at Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada’s (DFATD) Authentication of Documents, or JLAC.
The procedure to do this is:
- The authentication at JLAC should be done while you are still in Canada.
- As of July 1, 2015, you must send a pre-addressed and stamped return envelope or a prepaid courier shipping label if mailing in your document for authentication. If not, it will be returned to you.
- Your divorce certificate must have been issued by a Canadian court with the original signature of the relevant court clerk or registrar along with the court seal or stamp. If the signature is not legible, have the clerk print their name or apply a stamp bearing their printed name.
- You must complete and enclose the EXT 2165 form. Go here and click on the EXT 2165 Form link to open it or download it to your computer’s hard drive and then open the form from there, if you are having difficulty opening the form online.
- The authentication service at JLAC is free. You can have the divorce certificate, or any other document, authenticated in person by appearing at:
111 Sussex Drive
Or by mailing your package with the return envelope and completed form to:
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada (DFATD)
Authentication Services Section (JLAC)
125 Sussex Drive
Canada K1A 0G2
- Next, your divorce certificate must be authenticated at the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa or the Ukrainian Consulate General in Toronto.
- When you arrive in the Ukraine, remember that you must obtain a state-approved translation of the documents into Ukrainian, as well as having them notarized.
If you are a widow, you will need a copy of your spouse’s death certificate. As with a Divorce Certificate, you will have to have it authenticated at DFATD’s Authentication services, JLAC.
- Remember you should have the authentication done at JLAC in Ottawa before heading to the Ukraine.
- If you are sending the Death Certificate by mail to JLAC for authentication on or after July 1, 2015, you must enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope or a prepaid courier label. You must also enclose EXT 2165 Form, completed, or your package will be returned to you.
- The Death Certificate must be the long form and not plastic or wallet-sized. While photocopies can be authenticated as long as they are certified as true copies by a notary or commissioner of oaths, the Ukrainian government does NOT accept certified true copies. You must have an original copy authenticated for use in the Ukraine.
- Use the in-person or mail-in steps outlined above.
- As with the divorce certificate your Death Certificate must then be authenticated by the Ukraine Embassy in Ottawa or the Ukraine General Consul in Toronto.
- When you arrive in the Ukraine, have the Divorce Certificate translated by a licensed Translating Agency and legalised by a notary.
Your passport must be valid for at least 1 year from the date you register to marry in the Ukraine. You should renew your passport before registering to marry if the expiry date is in less than 1 year away from the date of registry. Your other documents are valid for 6 months from the date of issuance.
Documentation for the Ukrainian Partner
- A valid Ukrainian passport,
- If your Ukrainian partner was previously married, they will have to present one of the following:
- A divorce decree,
- A certificate of death of their former spouse,
- A copy of the court judgement annulling the marriage.
Marriage Registration Ceremony
It is best to hire an official, licensed interpreter when applying at your local RAGS, since officials may not accept your partner handling the role of interpreter even if she or he is fluent in your language. Some government officials state that an interpreter is not mandatory, but this tends to vary from one local RAGS office to another. It his best to play it safe, and hire an official interpreter when applying to register your marriage.
After applying for a marriage registration you have a 1 month waiting period before your marriage is registered. This is due to the high divorce rate and problems with human trafficking in Eastern Europe. You can request to have your marriage registered before the 1 month is up if there are compelling reasons, like a pregnancy for example, in which case you will need a medical certificate testifying to the pregnancy. If not registered, your application for registration will remain valid for 3 months from the date of application.
The marriage ceremony (in other words, the registration) itself is generally at the local RAGS (or ZAGS) but you can request to have it at another location, if you are both unable to be physically present at the local RAGS.
Surnames in the Ukraine can be:
- From either one of the couple and used as both spouses common surname, or
- The pre-marital surnames that each spouse had which they keep after the marriage, or
- A double, (or hyphenated) surname with the couple being able to decide which surname is first and which is second in the double or hyphenated surname.
- More than 2 surnames is not allowed, unless your partner is part of a national minority whose customs include numerous surnames.
Once the marriage is registered, remember to request at least one additional copy of your marriage certificate as your Ukrainian partner will need it when surrendering his or her passport to Ukrainian authorities to have the marriage registered in the passport. As well, you should have the marriage certificate translated into English and notarized, and then leave a copy at the Canadian consulate in the Ukraine. This way, the authorities in both the Ukraine and in Canada have been notified of your marriage.
Wedding in the Ukrainian rural side used to be, and to a large extent still is an event that involved the whole village and lasted for days.
The traditional marriage rites, the rituals of the wedding ceremony and of the wedding party were strictly observed. In recent years, some of the ancient wedding traditions have begun coming back.
Marriage in Ukraine is a legally and socially sanctioned union that is regulated by laws, rules, customs, beliefs, and attitudes that illustrate the rights and duties of the partners, and gives status to their offspring.
Fertility rites were done to ensure a fruitful marriage existed in some form in all ceremonies. Some of the oldest rituals still found in contemporary ceremonies include the prominent display of fruit or of cereal grains that may be sprinkled over the couple or on their nuptial bed, the accompaniment of a small child with the bride, and the breaking of an object or food to ensure a successful consummation of the marriage and an easy childbirth.
The most universal ritual is one that symbolises a sacred union. This may be expressed by joining of hands, an exchange of rings or chains, or tying of garments.
Marriage arrangements in Ukraine
Until the late 20th century, marriages were arranged in Ukraine, love was not the primary motive for couples tying the knot.
It was believed that a marriage would be successful if certain rituals were carefully observed at all the stages of courting, at the wedding ceremony and at the wedding reception by the betrothed and their kin.
The Ukrainian word for “wedding” is “vesillya” the word, “vesil” suggests something “vesele”, that is “joyous.” The traditional wedding ceremony, which after introduction of Christianity began to include the rituals performed in church, was a folk performance with many participants each of whom played their roles prescribed by tradition.
Some of the wedding rituals, songs and dances also had some symbolic meaning; others were of a “magical” nature, performed to encourage fertility, luck and happiness.
in Ukraine, unlike other cultures, it is not the man who propose marriage, but the lady, the request is rarely turned down.
Girls would go the house of parents of the man they wanted to marry and insist that marriage be arranged there and then, adding that they would not leave the house until their demands were not met.
When it was a man doing the proposing, the first thing he was supposed to do was to find a respected person who knew all the rituals well. The man consulted by the groom to be, svat in Ukrainian, was sent to talk to the prospective bride’s parents, this mission was called svatannya.
The chief svat usually had other svats to accompany him. Properly dressed (the dress code explained their purpose), the svat delegation would begin their “performance” once they arrived at the door of their destination.
At the time when the svats were declaring their purpose, the girl was supposed to be standing by the pich (a combination of a cooking stove and a heating installation) and silently addressing the ancestors with a request to bless the marriage.
If she accepted the marriage proposal, she would give the svats long embroidered towels which they would use to cover their shoulders and chests as sashes. If she turned down the proposal, the girl would present the svats with a pumpkin.
If the first stage of the svatannya was successful, the second stage, ohlyadyny which means inspection began. The bride’s parents went to the bridegroom’s house to have a good look around and make sure that he was able to support his wife.
If the bride’s parents were satisfied with what they saw, the third stage, zaruchyny which means betrothal was, declared.
The bridegroom’s parents went to the bride’s parents’ home, and in the presence of their parents, the bride and bridegroom announced their intention to get married. Usually, at such meetings, the village elder was present and would wind an embroidered towel around the betrothed hands.
The parents then blessed their children, and presents were exchanged. If any of the parties involved declared sometime after the zaruchyny that they would not go ahead with the marriage, they would have to pay a fine “for causing an offense.”
It took two weeks between the zaruchyny and the vesillya (wedding). The bride was supposed to make a wreath of flowers and colourful ribbons and whenever she appeared in public, she had to wear it.
Sunday was the preferred day of a wedding. On Friday, the korovay (big loaf of bread) was baked and given to the couple, as well as other ritual biscuits and cakes.
The whole process of korovay making was accompanied by wedding songs. In the Land of Halychyna, a figurine of baran (ram) made of bread was presented to the newlyweds. This baran was a symbolic substitute of a real animal that used to be sacrificed at weddings in the pagan times. In the Carpathians, instead of the baran, two geese made of bread were presented.
The korovay presentation ceremony was performed by women who were cheerful and happy in their marriages, no unmarried girls or widows were allowed to take part in the presentation.
Also on Friday, the vesilne hiltse “wedding ritual tree” was decorated in the bride’s house. It was a sapling or a big branch that the bridegroom had to cut and bring to his fiancee’s house. This tree symbolized the Tree of Life, and was decorated by the bride’s parents or the next of kin, or girls, friends of the bride, with multicolored ribbons and red berries.
At the bridal shower on Friday night before the wedding, the girls who were present at the party would wear wreaths made of periwinkle or myrtle which symbolized virginity and purity.
The bride loosened her braids (if she had an elder brother, he would unbraid her) as a gesture of farewell to her unmarried life. During the ritual called posad, which was performed that night, the bride was led to the chervony (“beautiful”) corner in the biggest room of the house where the icons were displayed and where she paid symbolic homage to her ancestors.
On Saturday, the bride together with her friends and the bridegroom with his friends departed separately around the village with bread inviting people to come to their wedding.
On Sunday, the molody (bridegroom which literally means the young one) was to go to his bride’s house and they would go to church together. The bridegroom’s mother walked him to the gate of their household, blessing him and throwing grain or small coins over him.
At one point on the way to the bride’s house, the bridegroom was barred and “ransom” for the bride was demanded by some of the bride’s friends. The bridegroom had to give out presents, food and drink, or money, and then he would be let through. This ritual was called “pereyma” or “interception.”
When he arrived at the bride’s place, the bridegroom was supposed to take her in his arms and carry her some distance from the house to the waiting carriage or wagon. The wedding convoy consisted of many horse-drawn wagons and other similar vehicles which were decorated with flowers, ribbons and rugs.
In one of the wagons, the vesilne hiltse which means the Tree of Life, was carried which also symbolized the continuity of generations. Traditions of arranging the wedding trains varied from region to region.
In the Carpathians, the participants, including the molodi (the couple which literally means“the young ones”) rode on horseback rather not in wagons.
The bride and the bridegroom were referred to as “knyaz”, “Duke,” and “knyahynya” , “Duchess.” The bride carried a dyven which is bread roll in the shape of a wheel, or tire, through which she would ceremoniously look in the four directions of the world and see what the future held for her and her husband-to-be. The bridegroom carried figurines of an ox and a plow made of bread which symbolized husbandry and the work he would be doing.
After the wedding ceremony in church, the couple proceeded to the bride’s place where a huge wedding reception was held. Rituals of the wedding party varied in different parts of Ukraine, but usually, the newlyweds would go around the korovay (wedding bread) three times and then sit on a bench covered with a sheep skin coat, the fur outside, this was a symbol of prosperity.
Then the newlyweds were given bread and healthy, good-looking children to hold in their arms, this was meant for good luck in having healthy children of their own.
Dances followed, this was done with everyone in a group not as couples dancing together.
There were hundreds of different songs sung at the wedding parties, most of which were to wish the couple well, give thanks to the parents, ask God to grant the newlyweds a happy life together, expression of the parent’s sorrow of parting with their children.
Toward the evening, the wedding wreath was removed from the bride’s head and a headscarf was put on instead. This ritual, called “pokryvannya” or “covering”, symbolized the bride’s transition from girlhood to a married woman. The karavay, which was big in size, was then cut into small pieces and everybody was given a piece, the newlyweds included.
The newlyweds were to spend their first night together in a komora, a store-room or store-house. As they were not supposed to eat or drink anything during the wedding party, the newlyweds were given a baked chicken and a bowl of honey to eat.
The young wife’s nightgown with bloodspots was displayed the next morning as evidence of losing her virginity during the night. The absence of such evidence would bring shame not only on the young woman but on her parents as well.
Wedding celebrations continued for a week or more, with customs and rituals differing from region to region, but in spite of the local differences, the general pattern remained more or less the same.
Food for Weddings
The most common and holiest wedding food in Ukraine is bread. The Ukrainian wedding typically has around 10-15 appetisers. For a large wedding, people raise a calf or pig to be slaughtered.
Sausages and different kinds of ham are also part of the cuisine. Salads are important and no Ukrainian wedding leaves salad out.
This is a unique Ukrainian soup that has been adopted by many other countries in the region. The soup is made from beet and can contain as many as 20 different ingredients, depending on the season, region, and personal preference.
It can be prepared without meat or from a rich meat stock and contain either beef or smoked pork.
Vareniki are dumplings made from boiled or fried dough, Vareniki looks like ravioli without the red sauce. They can be filled with meat, potatoes, cabbage, and sometimes mushrooms and served as an entree, or served with sour cherries, sweetened cottage cheese and raisins as a dessert.
Any of these variations can be taken with butter or sour cream.
A delicacy that is never left out on the menu is golubtsi which is rolls from cabbage leaves served with rice (buckwheat or modern white rice is used) and mincemeat inside, to make a sort of sandwich.
There is variety of pastries and cakes. Kievsky is a local speciality, the cake is made of layers of crumbly raised wafers, hazelnuts, and it even comes in its own special green box.
List of Ukranian Consulates in Canada
Emergency Information for Canadians in Ukraine
Embassy of Canada in Ukraine
Yaroslaviv Val St, 31,
Kiev, Kyivs'ka oblast
Consulate of Canada in Ukraine
2/4 Academika Bohomoltsia St,
Telephone: 380 32 2601572
- Dial 102 for police,
- Dial 103 for ambulance,
- Dial 101 for the fire department
The official currency of Ukraine is Hryvna or Grivna (UHR) introduced in 1996 by the national bank of Ukraine.
Calling Ukraine from Canada
The exit code for Canada is 011
The country code for Ukraine is 380
Dial 011 – 380 – area code – local number
The time zone for Ukraine is UTC/GMT +2
Calling Canada from Ukraine
The international code is 00
The country code for Canada is 1
Dial 00 – 1 – area code – local number
|Alberta||403 / 587 (southern Alberta)
587 / 780 (central and northern Alberta)
|BC||236 / 250 / 778 (majority of BC)
236 / 604 / 778 (Metro Vancouver)
|Ontario||226 / 519 (southwestern Ontario)
249 / 705 (northeastern Ontario)
289 / 365 / 905 (Greater Toronto Area)
343 / 613 (eastern Ontario)
416 / 647 (Toronto)
807 (northwestern Ontario)
|Manitoba||204 / 431||PEI||782 / 902|
|New Brunswick||506||Quebec||418 / 581 (eastern Quebec)
438 / 514 (Montreal)
450 / 579 (Greater Montreal)
819 / 873 (remainder of Quebec)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||709||Saskatchewan||306 / 639|
|Nova Scotia||782 / 902|
Time Difference with Canada
Ukraine is +2 UCT.
|Canadian Time Zone||# of Hours
Ukraine is Ahead
|# of Hours
|Pacific (BC, Yukon)||10 hours||10 hours|
|Mountain (Alberta, western Nunavut, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan)||9 hours||9 hours|
|Saskatchewan||9 hours||9 hours|
|Central (Manitoba, Northwest Territories, central Nunavut, northwestern Ontario)||8 hours||8hours|
|Eastern (most of Ontario, most of Quebec)||7 hours||7 hours|
|Atlantic (Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, eastern Quebec||6 hours||6 hours|
|Newfoundland||5.5 hours||5.5 hours|
Please note that DST begins 3 weeks earlier in Ukraine and end 1 week before compared to Canada
Ukraine differs from Russia in that it is a predominantly Christian nation with 90% of the citizens belonging to Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant denominations.
- 14.9% of the populations belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kiev Patriarchate
- This church is not recognised by the Eastern Orthodox Communion
- It uses Ukrainian and Slavonic as the official liturgical languages
- 10.9% of the population belong to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Moscow Patriarchate
- It is the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church
- It has the largest number of churches in Ukraine
- claims up to 75% of the total Ukrainian population
- uses on the most part the Old Slavonic language for service and mass
- practices Byzantine rites that are similar to Orthodox Christianity, but is united with the Roman Catholic Church
- It was formed in 1596 to unify Orthodox and Roman Catholic believers
- It was banned within the Soviet Union from 1946 to 1989
- It uses the Ukrainian language for service and mass
- Mostly in western Ukraine
- It uses the Ukrainian language for service and mass
- These are Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Mennonites, Adventists
- They are mostly Ukrainians of Polish origins from western Ukraine
- These consist of indigenous Crimean Tatar, as well as Muslim immigrants from former Soviet states
- 5.3% of the population belong to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church
- 1% of the population belong to the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
- 0.9% of the population are of Protestant denominations
- 0.6% of the population belong to the Roman Catholic Church
- 0.2% Belong to Islam
- 0.1% practice Judaism
- 3.2% belong to "other" denominations
- 62.5% said they were not religious, or did not belong to any particular religious denomination
Crimea is a fascinating region to explore, as well as a great place for a newly married couple to spend their honeymoon vacation.
Greeks, Venetians and the Genoese all settled at the coast and inter-married with the local people creating a mixture of races.
Carpathian Mountains are considered to be the green Pearl of Ukraine, a truly magical destination for a honeymoon.
It is one of the most popular resorts and tourist centres in Ukraine. A beautiful mix of natural areas, forests, meadows, shepherds and humans all live in harmony with nature which is what makes the mountains so attractive to tourists.
Kyiv (also known as Kiev), a scenic city of close to 3 million people situated on the Dnieper River, is the capital of Ukraine. Ancient trading routes between the Baltic and Mediterranean left a history of art and architecture.
Lviv is a city blended with both ancient and relatively new culture. Narrow medieval streets paved with stones, architectural decoration done in different styles all preserved in its original form.
Being a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then Poland contributed to the formation of the city’s unique image that attracts tourists from all over the world.
Odessa is referred to as the "Pearl of the Black Sea" and is the 3rd largest city in Ukraine. The most alluring quality about Odessa is its mild climate, warm waters and beaches that attract thousands of people all year around. Its shady lanes, beautiful lightly pastel buildings and cozy squares create a certain air of intimacy perfect for a honeymoon vacation.
Steep mountain peaks serve as a lovely backdrop for Yalta the jewel of the Crimean peninsula. Yalta is compared to a combination of Carmel California the French Riviera and Greece. Yalta has exemplary resorts, museums, and beaches.