If you are planning to get married in the Balkans, regardless of the destination, you will generally need your passport, an original of your birth certificate, and some sort of proof that you are currently single and able to marry. The specifics of that process and the supporting documents you may need vary by country.
How to Prove You are Single in the Balkans
The Balkan Peninsula is a gorgeous area with a vibrant kaleidoscope of cultures. It contains Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Slovenia, and Serbia. No matter what you are looking for, you’re bound to find it in its wide variety of landscapes, cuisine, music, etc.
If you are planning to get married in the Balkans, regardless of the destination, you will generally need your passport, an original of your birth certificate, and some sort of proof that you are currently single and able to marry. The specifics of that process and the supporting documents you may need vary by country, and if you’d like to see an example, check out this guide for marrying in Croatia.
This article will help you sort out one piece of the puzzle: proving that you are single. The process is pretty straight-forward if you were born in Canada and have a Canadian citizenship. You will need:
- Marriage search from your local registry in Canada (if applicable): It is essentially your province of residence confirming that, according to their records, you are currently not married.
- Divorce decree or death certificate, if applicable: If you have been previously married and are currently divorced or widowed, you will need proof that those marriages are no longer in effect. These documents can also be obtained from your local registry in Canada.
- Statutory Declaration of Single Status (Example): This is a sworn statement made by you, confirming that, to the best of your knowledge, you are not married. Although some countries may let you draft this declaration yourself, others will request that this letter be written with a Notary Public present. Unless you were explicitly told that the statement does not need to be notarized, I suggest you go with the latter option. This can be done either in Canada, or upon your arrival in your country of interest. Note that if you are writing your own declaration, you must not date or sign it. You will need to have it sworn in at the Canadian Embassy in the country you intend to marry in.
- Certificate of Non-Impediment: All countries in the Balkans require a Certificate of Non-Impediment issued by the respective embassies of the foreign nationals marrying in their country. Essentially it’s a statement on behalf of your country, stating that, as far as your government is concerned, there are no impediments to you getting married. It can also be referred to as “Single Status Affidavit,” “No Marriage Affidavit,” or “Certificate of Freedom to Marry.” Unfortunately Canada does not issue Certificates of Non-Impediment, but Foreign Affairs or the Canadian Embassy in your country of interest will issue an equivalent: the Statement in Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage.
*Make sure to double-check deadlines ahead of time. Depending on the country, your documents may only be valid within 3 or 6 months of issue. So plan accordingly!
Regardless of your Canadian citizenship, if you were born outside of Canada or hold any other citizenships, you will be required to provide the above documents from those countries as well. Please click here for more details on gathering documents from other countries.
The last step of obtaining your Certificate of Non-Impediment will have to be done upon your arrival in the Balkans, but before you head out to the Canadian Embassy; there are a couple things you should keep in mind:
- ALL your documents need to be translated into the official language of the country you plan to marry in. This includes your Statutory Declaration of Single Status and your Certificate of Non-Impediment!
- ALL your documents need to be verified and stamped by the Canadian Embassy or Consulate responsible for the country you want to marry in. If you drafted your Statutory Declaration yourself, it will also be sworn in, signed and dated at the Embassy.
- ALL your documents need to be validated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country of interest. This will validate your documents as legal for use in that particular country.
- Consulates, Embassies, and Ministries of Foreign Affairs usually have short work hours.
If you are travelling to a different city or country just for the Embassy and/or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, make sure you call both offices and confirm that the people you need will be there. Their office hours are short, and often there is only one person authorized to perform certain duties, meaning you might have to come back later.
Please note that ALL of the Balkan countries are part of the Hague Apostille Convention. The above 2-step process of verification and validation only applies to documents issued in non-member states.
If any of your documents come from any of these countries, they would need to be Apostilized in their country of origin. Moreover, if the marriage certificate you obtain in the Balkan will be used in any of the above countries, you will also need to Apostilize your marriage certificate in its country of origin before you leave.
Please click here for more information on Apostilization and gathering documents from other countries.
The list below outlines all countries in the Balkan region, and the respective offices you’ll need. Note that some countries do not have Canadian Embassies – they may have consulates, but those often have limited services available. Make sure you contact the consulate ahead of time and check if they would be able to help you, otherwise the country will be covered by the nearest Canadian Embassy as noted in the list.
The Balkan countries’ embassies in Canada are also noted for your convenience. They will often have more English-speakers available on staff, and may be able to answer further questions prior to your departure.
Canada does not have an embassy in Albania, but Albania is covered by the
- Canadian Embassy in Rome (Canadian Consulate in Tirana)
- Albanian Embassy in Ottawa
- Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Canada does not have an embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but BiH is covered by the
Canada does not have an embassy in Bulgaria, but Bulgaria is covered by the
- Canadian Embassy in Bucharest (Canadian Honorary Consulate in Sofia)
- Bulgarian Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Bulgaria in Toronto
- Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Canadian Embassy in Zagreb
- Croatian Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Croatia in Mississauga
- Consulate General of Croatia in Saint John
- Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Canadian Embassy in Athens
- Greek Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Greece in Montreal
- Consulate General of Greece in Toronto
- Consulate General of Greece in Vancouver
- Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Canada does not have an embassy in Kosovo, but Kosovo is covered by the
- Canadian Embassy in Zagreb
- Kosovan Embassy in Ottawa will be opened in February 2016, meanwhile Canada will be covered by the Kosovan Embassy in Washington, DC
- Kosovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Canada does not have an embassy in Macedonia, but Macedonia is covered by the
- Canadian Embassy in Belgrade
- Macedonian Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Macedonia in Toronto
- Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Canada does not have an embassy in Moldova, but Moldova is covered by the
Canada does not have an embassy in Montenegro, but Montenegro is covered by the
- Canadian Embassy in Belgrade
- Montenegrin Honorary Consulate in Vancouver
- Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Canadian Embassy in Bucharest
- Romanian Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Romania in Toronto
- Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Canadian Embassy in Belgrade
- Serbian Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Serbia in Toronto
- Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Canada does not have an embassy in Slovenia, but Slovenia is covered by the
- Canadian Embassy in Budapest (Canadian Consulate in Ljubljana)
- Slovenian Embassy in Ottawa
- Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Please remember that if the marriage certificate you obtain in the Balkan will be used in any of these countries, you will also need to Apostilize it before you leave.
Note that this article only covers one step of the marriage process – proving that you are single. There are many other specifics you will have to keep in mind when getting married in the Balkans, and here you can find more help with the legalization process and gathering documents from other countries.
Here you will find more information on marrying overseas as a Canadian. Please feel free to enter your destination into the search bar above for more tips and details on marrying a foreign national elsewhere.