Denmark has developed a reputation in recent years for being one of the most easy destinations to get married for foreigners. Denmark touts itself as a destination for anyone from anywhere that wants to get married without the huge headaches of other neighboring countries.
This is especially true if you live and work in Germany. If you are not German and want to marry an EU citizen (German or Non German) or a non EU citizen, good luck. Germany is notoriously impossible for marrying foreigners. Not only do you need to translate your whole life into German, but the actual process of visiting the Rathaus and getting the necessary paperwork in place is all but impossible.
Why is getting married in Denmark considered easy?
There are many reasons to get married in Denmark! It’s considered one of the easiest places in Europe to get married because of the relatively low barriers to entry.
Firstly, Denmark makes it actually possible for foreigners to get married in the country. You don’t need to translate your documents to Danish in any capacity and all communication and paperwork can be done in English. Compare this to a place like Germany where you’ll need to translate everything you own and you will quickly not look back.
The Danish Government also works fast and efficiently. Above all, the Danish Government has made the active decision to make Denmark a destination to get married. Once your paperwork has been approved and your court date has been scheduled, you could fly into Denmark, get married, and fly out the same day.
Who should consider getting married in Denmark
Thankfully, Danish civil marriages have no borders. Anyone from any nationality can get married in Denmark. Whether you’re American, French, Indian, Australian, or a combination of all of the above, you can get married in Denmark.
Denmark has become a very popular destination to get married especially for expats that move to Germany from other countries. Getting a residence permit for your spouse is 100x easier if you’re married and since it’s almost impossible to do so in Germany, Denmark becomes the best option.
Even if you’re German but your spouse is not, it’s still impossible to get married in Germany so many German-Non German couples travel to Denmark.
Marriages in Denmark are 100% recognized in the European Union including countries like Germany, France, Spain, Holland etc. Once you have your marriage certificate, you can promptly visit your neighborhood Burgeramt in Germany as well as the Finanzamt to change your tax classes if you wish.
Getting married in Denmark as a tourist
Most people that get married in Denmark live in the EU or are planning to live in the EU with their EU or non EU spouses. However, if you have no intention of living in Europe but just want to do it in a cool Scandinavian location, this is also possible. You can be a tourist and 100% get married in Denmark!
The only requirement is that you are able to visit Denmark. If you need a Schengen visa prior to entry, then you must apply for this before entering. Getting married in Denmark has nothing to do with applying for a tourist visa.
The same applies if you’re on a student visa or any type of work visa.
Is getting married in Denmark as easy as they say?
This is where I am conflicted. Getting married in Denmark is advertised as this easy painless process. After going through the process, I’m here to set the record straight.
Denmark is not an easy place to get married. It just simply isn’t. What Denmark is, is a possible place to get married in the European Union. If you want to get married in the EU and are living in a place like Germany, Denmark makes it possible to actually get the job done.
If you’re hoping for a quick and dirty minimal effort wedding, Denmark is not the place. The paperwork requirement for the Danish wedding application is extreme of which I will go into detail later. You need very specific scanning and printing requirements, as if you were writing a book or something. If you mess up the slightest thing, you’ll get your application sent back and then you’ll delay your process for weeks. The whole process can be a huge headache if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Great if you don’t have a birth certificate
A lot of countries require that you present a birth certificate to get married. I don’t understand why this requirement matters but it’s the rules for many other destinations in Europe that are wedding hotspots like Cyprus and Gibraltar. If you have a birth certificate already, this is no issue and you may want to consider places like Cyprus or Gibraltar.
However, if you come from somewhere or are born in a time when birth certificates weren’t really issued, then Denmark is the spot for you. Note that if your birth certificate is not in English or German, you’ll need to get that translated accordingly.
Why getting married in Denmark isn’t as easy as you think
Getting married in Denmark isn’t as easy as they make it out to be. It’s not difficult per se but don’t get your hopes up for a quick process. Here are the main reasons why the process is more complicated than you think
- The paperwork is extreme. You will need to provide a lot of paperwork including things like scanning every page of your passport (yes all 50+ pages) in super high quality scans
- You’ll need to create a relationship document thoroughly detailing your relationship as Denmark doesn’t want people getting married just for a residence permit (which is sensical)
- Documents need to be to a certain standard and if this isn’t the case, good luck producing documents that are
- The wait time for Copenhagen is insanely long. Let’s be honest, anyone who doesn’t live in Germany will fly to Copenhagen. I would say 95% of the weddings performed in Denmark happen in Copenhagen. The wait for a wedding in Copenhagen is at minimum 2 months and probably more closer to 3 or 4 months. Keep that in mind as you plan your wedding process in case you were in urgent need of a wedding certificate
- It’s expensive. If you want to brave the entire process on your own, then you can get by paying just
Where is the easiest place to get married?
In the end, Denmark is no where close to an easy and quick place to get married. If you want that, you’re best off to go the United States. Places like New York City or Las Vegas make it incredibly easy for foreigners to marry. In New York City, you’ll need just your passports and no more than $100.
In addition, the whole process takes just one day. Yes, in New York, you just need to visit the city hall to obtain your marriage license. With this marriage license, you need to wait a minimum of 24 hours (yes seriously that’s it), and you can come back the following day to complete your marriage ceremony. After this, you can obtain your wedding certificate and Apostilles in the same buildings.
Step by step process to get married in Denmark
As always, your mileage may vary – this guide is based on my own experience as an Indian citizen living in Germany for several years and marrying a German citizen in Denmark. You may not go through the exact same steps or be asked for these exact documents, but this should give you a rough idea of the entire process.
2.1) Find an agency for getting married in Denmark
First thing is first, go out and find an agency that specializes in Denmark weddings to help you with your application. Knowing what I know now after the process has been completed, I would 100% use an agency again. I’ve heard stories of people succeeding on their own but I couldn’t imagine having to deal with all the headaches of delayed applications and figuring out what the AFL wants.
There are many agencies out there working with Danish weddings and the one that kept standing out more and more was GmiD (Getting Married in Denmark). This company is very reputable with hundreds of reviews online. After using their live chat feature to ask some preliminary questions, it was clear these people knew what they were doing and had done it a time or two. They even boasted about their “connections” in the AFL which probably means they have some sort of unspoken under the table connection to the Government agency which is always good.
You should opt for the complete package which means all you’re on the hook for is just to provide your documents. They literally do everything else and will only contact you if they need better documents and when it’s time to book your actual wedding day.
Again, the Danish Government are so nitpicky with the quality of documents you provide that I would never try this process on my own. Spend the money (yes it’s a lot) but it’s definitely worth it for the ease of mind.
The Danish AFL (Agency of Family Law) requires numerous documents from you in order to secure the marriage license. If you go through an agency, they will help you with all these document requirements. Here is a list of everything you’ll need and the detail that you need it.
Everyone has their own unique situations so this list might not be everything you’ll need for your specific wedding.
Passport or Valid EU ID:
For EU citizens, you’ll need just your EU ID (Front and back) to be scanned
For Non EU Citizens: You will need to be scan every single page of your passport. Yes, if you have 60 pages in your passport, you will need to scan every page (even if there are no stamps). The scans need to be done in at least 600 dpi if you’re using a scanner.
If you or your partner are living in Europe already, then you need to provide your residence permits (like an EU Blue Card).
Proof of Residency
If you and your partner already live together, you’ll need to provide a proof of residency. This can be a joint bank statement, utilities, signed rent contracts, etc. If you don’t have any of these documents, it might be better to just say you live in different addresses.
The “Declaration of Marriage” (DOM) Form
This form is required from the Danish authorities. This is the official questionnaire where you will fill out your basic details including your nationalities, birth dates, etc. The form is straight forward.
Power of Attorney
If you’re using an agency like GMiD to help organize and submit your application, then they will provide you with a power of attorney form to fill out and sign. This will allow the agency to work directly with the Danish AFL on your behalf.
If you’ve been married before, you will need to provide your divorce decrees from whatever country you were married in before. This needs to have an official stamp of sorts from the court.
Proof of relationship document
Finally, you will need to provide a document showcasing your relationship is real. This word document will be made entirely by you and is meant to show the Danish AFL that your relationship is legit. It’s not some sham marriage just to get a visa for one of the parties which I guess is a real problem in Europe.
You should expect to include some of the following things in your relationship document:
- A few paragraphs describing your relationship, how you met, how much you love each other etc. etc.
- Screenshots over WhatsApp/text/iMessage etc. of your relationship. They recommend 8-10 screenshots so just select the ones where you say how much you love each other
- Photos with dates of the two of you. This can be travel photos, selfies, etc.
- Flights: Preferably tickets where both of your names are on the same email
Don’t be scared to create a huge document. The more photos the better as that leaves the AFL without a shadow of a doubt regarding your marriage. Your document can be 50 pages worth of photos and text communications and it will be perfect.
GMiD did a great job of advising on the caliber of the document and what to add/remove! I’ve heard of the AFL also requesting more documents when it come to proving a relationship so be prepared for everything.
Additional notes to prepare your documents properly for getting married in Denmark
Sending documents as scans
Make sure to use colour scans only. Ensure all edges and corners of all documents and pages are visible and all text clear and easy to read. The text must not be blurry and must be very clear.
Translating foreign language documents
Any documents that are not in English or German must be translated to English by a professional translator. All stamps and legalisations such as present on the document such as the Apostille and other legalisations should also be translated.
Submit your application and choose a date
Once your documents are all up to snuff, then it’s time to submit it to the AFL. Since I employed an agency to do it, they told me what documents needed some extra love and which ones were fine. After a few back and forth exchanges, they finally agreed that all the documents were acceptable and submitted the application.
According to the official website, it takes the AFL a maximum of 5 business days to respond to your application. During this time, they will either accept your application entirely or return it to you with issues that you will need to then action.
Thankfully, there were no issues and the approval from the AFL was received just a few days after submission.
Choosing a wedding date
Once you receive the approval from the AFL, it’s time to pick your dates. You will receive a “validity period” of approval for your wedding which is four months from the date of approval. Therefore, when you select dates, you should plan to pick a wedding date that’s within this period.
As mentioned earlier, Copenhagen is a disaster and it’s booked full for months in advance. If you are planning to get married quick in Copenhagen, think again. The minimum wait time is probably 3 months to get married at the Copenhagen town hall. In this specific case, the first available date in Copenhagen was 81 days after receiving the AFL approval!
This is almost 3 months from the date of AFL approval. If you’re getting married in the summer, you could easily be pushing that 4 month validity period!
2.4) Decide on a town hall in Denmark
Once the Danish Agency of Family Law approves your application you will be able to book your wedding with one of the various town halls in Denmark.
If you choose to use GMiD as your agent, you can tell them ahead of time which locations are your most preferred. More likely than not, it’s going to be Copenhagen so prepare for a long wait. Some townhalls do not conduct weddings on Sundays and others are closed on odd days of the week like Wednesday.
If you live in Germany, it could make sense to simply drive over the border to the border towns of Tønder and Aabenraa. Keep in mind that the drive is quite long. From a town like Frankfurt, you can expect to drive 7-8 hours through German flatlands (not so scenic). If you live in Hamburg, this could be an option as it is only a few hours.
Use a private registrar to speed up the process
If you want to get married in Copenhagen but can’t wait until the availability comes up, then your other option is to hire a private registrar. This individual is separate from the official Town Hall registrars but they are legally allowed to marry you and provide you all the necessary documents. Since they operate outside the schedule of the City Hall, the availability is much more flexible.
In our case, they were available one month after the AFL approval was received. This was almost a full two months earlier than the earliest date possible for using the official registrars.
This comes at an additional cost however. If you use GMiD as your agent, the extra cost for a private registrar is 330 Euros. That’s in addition to the already paid 800 Euros for their full services.
What are the best town halls to get married in Denmark for couples from Germany?
Denmark is a small country so there aren’t too many options as far as selecting your town halls go.
If you’re coming from Germany, a lot of couples will go to the popular towns of Tønder and Aabenraa which are just a short 20 minutes from the border. You can also take a train to these towns from Hamburg. If you’re coming from the south of Germany, taking a train is probably not worth it as it will easily be 6-7 hours from Frankfurt and much more from Munich.
For others living away from the border, it takes just a couple of hours of flight to get to Copenhagen, Frederiksberg or Stevns. If you have enough time to travel and plan your wedding in Denmark, then Ærø, Ribe and Kolding are rather beautiful seaside locations perfect for a beach wedding. Make sure to do these in the summer months however as it can get very depressing in the colder months.
The wedding day in Denmark
Now that you’ve finished your application, are approved by the AFL, and have chosen your wedding date, it is time to get the deed done!
There isn’t too much to discuss in this section as all the hard work is done and you just need to show up.
Arriving at the Town Hall for your Denmark Wedding
The first step is to arrive at the Town Hall to submit your paperwork and get your wedding started. You’ll need to arrive a few hours before your actual wedding time to submit your documents so they can prepare for your ceremony.
Dress Code to get married in Denmark
The dress code for your wedding is that there is no dress code. At the Copenhagen town hall, there were plenty of people getting married and there was the complete spectrum of clothing styles.
Some people opted to go all out by dressing up completely in tuxedos and a full white dress. They even had a full entourage of their family and friends to witness the whole ceremony in action. Others that were there were dressed in nothing more than jeans and a shirt with no photographers. Some couples exchange rings and some don’t. There is no protocol and there are certainly no requirements to how you want to do your wedding.
In the end, everyone gets the same documents which is probably why many people are there for.
The wedding ceremony
Once you’re finally ready to go, it’s time to seal the deal! The ceremony is performed in the town hall in front of your witnesses and the registrar. The whole ceremony lasts less than 10 minutes with the whole ceremony being conducted in English. The language is standard with the officiant reading the typical “do you take such and such as your lawfully wedded wife” etc.
Once the officiant is done, you can exchange rings if you choose and of course you can seal the deal by kissing. Your photographer and friends can also take as many photos/videos as they’d like in order to capture your special moment.
Receiving your marriage certificate
After completing your marriage, you can now collect your official marriage certificate! This is the prize for many of the people coming to Denmark to get married so you can go back to your respective countries and finally reap the rewards of being legally married to one another.
This of course will help you or your spouse obtain legal residence in another country in the EU (or any other country in the world) as well as the right to work. This will also allow you to claim a married tax filing status which could save you over €10,000 in a country like Germany.
Obtaining an Apostille for the marriage certificate
Some countries will require an Apostille for your marriage certificate. An apostille is just a fancy word for notarizing a document by an official Government agency. This form of authentication is required for certain countries to recognize the marriage certificate. Thankfully, since Denmark is part of the EU, you will not need to obtain an apostille to use it in a country like Germany or France.
If you do want an apostille, you can pay an additional €250 to Getting Married in Demark to take care of the document for you. This is an incredibly steep price to pay for such an authentication and definitely a big money grab for the company.
Alternatively, you can simply visit the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and do it on the spot. The cost is 210 DKK which is a tiny fraction of the €250 that GMiD wants.
Summary of the Danish marriage process
All in all, the process of getting married in Denmark is simple but time consuming and expensive. In summary, it took
- €800 + €330 = €1130 for the entire process. This included €800 to enlist the services of GMiD and €330 for the private registrar since waiting 3 months was out of the question. This does not include the cost of actually getting to Denmark or any accommodations you’d have to pay.
- Six weeks from start to finish. From the first day of starting the process to the day of the wedding, it took six weeks. This was working as fast as possible with producing the documents necessary in record time. If a private registrar wasn’t paid for, this process would have easily been double the amount of time.
I think getting married in Denmark is not the easiest or the fastest process but it is probably your best bet to do the deed in Europe, especially if you do not have a proper birth certificate. If you do have a birth certificate, it might be easier to do it in Cyprus or Gibraltar.
Ultimately, if you want to get a wedding certificate fast and easy without submitting your life’s story in documents, the best place to do it is in the US. It’s possible to get married in New York in literally 24 hours even if neither party is American.