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January 08, 2012, Sunday

Marriage in Turkey

I recently received the following question: “I am getting married to a Turk soon. I am a foreign citizen and a resident of Turkey. I have been told that I needed to get my birth certificate translated into Turkish, which I have done. I have also been told that the Turkish authorities might need other documents. Can you please explain to me the process of what I need to do to get married? Can you please help me? Thank you.”

Dear reader, since I only have a few details about you, I am not able to give you a full list of documents, as that depends on your gender and your country of citizenship. For instance, if you are a citizen of a country allowing polygamy, then you need to submit a document showing that you are not married in this country. In any case, the list of documents and other details would be very long to include here in this legal column, but you can find more details and a list of the necessary documents through the authorities cited below.

To give you an idea about what you may need, I will present a rough list here. Basically, you need to prove who you are and submit a document stating you are not already married. You will also be asked to submit a medical report which demonstrates that you do not have any diseases which would disqualify you from getting married if known to the other party (such as AIDS). A marriage ceremony conducted in Turkey is governed by Turkish law. The wedding ceremony has to be performed before a marriage officer appointed by the municipality, and the person authorized to conduct marriages in the jurisdiction of a municipality is the mayor. In villages, local governors are also authorized to perform marriages. The marriage application is submitted to the municipality or the local governor's office where the marriage is going to be performed. The application can be in writing or verbal.

Marriage officers may officiate the wedding after official work hours in the evening if you would like to have the ceremony before an audience and guests at a wedding party. Otherwise, two witnesses are satisfactory as the audience and the marriage can be finalized in a couple of minutes. A foreigner who wishes to get married in Turkey needs to obtain a certificate showing there is no impediment to marriage. This certificate is obtained from the relevant authority in his/her own country and needs be to authorized by the Turkish consulate in that country.

You may also consider drawing up a prenuptial agreement. This can either be made as a declaration to the marriage officer or before the marriage or afterwards through a notary public.

Don't forget that before all this is done you need to visit the bride's family and ask for her hand in marriage. This is a fantastic and joyful experience in Turkey which not only the family of the bride expects but also that of the groom.

NOTE: Berk Çektir is a licensed attorney at law and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living in Turkey. Please send inquiries to [email protected]. If a sender's letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise expressly stated by the sender.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should seek legal assistance from a licensed attorney when conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

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