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 Post subject: Getting Married in Russia
Post Number:#1  PostPosted: 04 Aug 2010 14:12 
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Getting Married in Russia


So, the courting period is over and you decided to pop the question and ask the love of your life to marry you. Or, perhaps, you accepted his offer. Anyway, congratulations. You are headed towards married bliss.

Now, if you want to get married in Russia, you have no choice. You have to beat a path to the appropriate Zapis Aktov Grazhdanskogo Sostoyaniya (ZAGS) office, or Palace of Marriages. Let’s be clear about this: it doesn’t matter what nationalities are involved. To get married in Russia, you need ZAGS. If you are a European marrying another European, or two Americans planning to wed, or any combination of nationalities, all paths lead to ZAGS. The days of consular weddings are virtually over, and for UK citizens, for example, there are only a few countries left, mostly in the Middle East, where the Consul can marry you.

Before you go to the ZAGS office however a bit of preparation and prior collection of documents is required. Depending on your nationality, this may be an easy walk in the park, or it can be a fraught international paper shuffle.

The British and Americans seem to make such a habit of marrying in Russia that their embassies are fed up answering individual questions, and put it all on their web sites to save time so:

For British citizens check this: How to register a Marriage in Russia

and for Americans (USA): Getting Married in Russia

All others else are apparently such a rarity (OK, special) that their consulate is prepared to offer individual advice. However, in general they are going to follow the same procedures as the two big Anglo- Saxon embassies.

The easy going Americans lay out five easy steps for their citizens to get married there - starting with getting your visa registered. The next step is to draft a letter in Russian of your marital status and then get it notarised by a US Embassy Consular official. This is valid for 90 days from the date of notarisation.

The Brits add a wrinkle or two. A simple self declaration of marital status is not going to suffice here. If you are British, then you need to obtain a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) as proof that you are eligible to marry under British law.


A CNI can be issued either in the UK by a district superintendent registrar or by a British Embassy Consular official. A CNI can be issued by your district registrar in the UK. A notice of marriage will have to be displayed for 21 clear days before the registrar will issue a CNI. Contact your local registry office for more details. Once issued, the CNI should be legalized with Apostile stamp at the Legalisation Office of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The address is:

Norfolk House (West)
437 Silbury BoulevardMilton Keynes
MK9 2AH
Tel: 0044 01908 295 111
Fax: 0044 01908 295 122
(between 9:30am-3:30pm)


If you have been married before, then your divorce certificate (Decree Absolute) or the death certificate of a former spouse should also be legalised by the Legalisation Office in the UK.

The CNI (and Decree Absolute, or death certificate if applicable) should then be translated into Russian and the translation notarised by the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in London or a Russian Notary Public. I suggest you do it in Russia locally as it's much cheaper, your future wife must know a local translator who can do all that! The Consular Section of the British Embassy in Moscow can also translate these documents but it is very expensive, so save your money, ask your future wife to find a local translator because the Russians also trust more their own people! [wink.gif]

A CNI issued in the UK is considered to be valid by the Russian officials for three months from the date of issue and it's much easier to get one than applying at the British Consulate in Moscow!

BUT you can also get a CNI from the British Consulate in Moscow, provided you have been resident in the Moscow consular district for at least 21 days clear before completing a Notice of Marriage which is then displayed on the Consular Section’s notice board for a further 21 days.

A CNI Issued in Moscow is also valid for three months. To issue the CNI there, the Consulate require your passport (containing your Russian visa); evidence of the termination of a previous marriage for both partners i.e. divorce decree absolute or death certificate (if applicable) of former spouse; and your fiance’s internal passport The CNI (and Decree Absolute), or death certificate if applicable) and passport should then be translated into Russian and the translation notarised by the Consular Section of the Russian Embassy in London or a Russian Notary Public. The Consular Section of the British Embassy in Moscow can also translate these documents but as I said before is expensive so use a local translator! [wink.gif]

If you are getting married in Moscow, then with your British CNI or other document attesting your current marital status in hand, you must now visit the Legalisation Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in person, at 12, 1st Neopalimovski Pereulok between Smolenskaya and Park Kultury metro stations. These guys enjoy a two and a half hour lunch, so phone to make sure when they are operating.

The process will cost about 100 rubles and takes five days. That all done, you are now ready to visit ZAGS.

The ZAGS office where you can get married must be in the district of your fiance’s permanent residence. If that’s Moscow, there is only one ZAGS that can marry foreigners, at 17 Butyrsky Ulitsa. ZAGS officials are going to check your documents, which is why all these translations are needed, and then they will set an appointment for your marriage.

ZAGS normally schedules civil service weddings 32 days from the date of registration but there is an exception for certain circumstances and you can ask for shorter period.

That’s a cooling off period, which we all hope you won’t take advantage of. [wink.gif]

What Documents do I need to get married in Russia?

You should always check with the local ZAGS office where you plan to get married in Russia to see if they have any local Rules, but typically you will need to provide the following:

1). Copy of all the pages of your passport (translated) and your Passport with a valid visa – It is recommended that the visa is obtained before the translation process starts, this is to ensure that the translation of names on the documents matches with the translation of the name in the visa.

2). A Certificate of No Impediment (obtained from your local registry office in the UK) which takes 21 days to be issued. I have read reports that some cities in Russia require the British registrar to stamp the CNI, as registrars do not normally do this in England so you will need to ask them to do this when you collect your certificate. Make sure when you apply to put the correct details about your fiancé!

3). If you have been married before, then the Certificate making Decree Nisi Absolute.

Additionally you are required to provide your immigration card once you have registered with OVIR and pay around 200 Rubbles cost fee in the Bank for the Register Office.

The above documents have to be translated; Notarized and especially the Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) and the Divorce Certificate (Nisi Absolute) must be Apostil so can be accepted by the ZAGS office.

To apostil these documents you must visit in person or apply by post to the Legalisation Department of the Foreign Office (based now in Milton Keynes; Read more here:

Legalisation Services

Once you have Apostil the above 2 documents, I suggest that you make photocopies of all the pages of your passport and ask your G/F to find a local translator to Translate all your documents and Notarise them. It is much cheaper doing translations in Russia than in the UK.

Post your documents to your girlfriend (Fiance) by DHL or Special Delivery by Post, and I am sure she will know what to do to complete all the paper work for ZAGS.

When you arrive in Russia make sure you register your Immigration Card with OVIR, as the registrar at ZAGS will ask you for it, when you make the application for Marriage.

The Russian Family Law requires for you to be in the country for 32 day before getting married but has also an exception for special cases, and can get Marriage the same day.....!

Your GF will have to sign a statement saying that your visa and tickets are for shorter period and you need to get married ASAP so you can apply for her settlement visa very soon.

[drinks.gif]. [aferim.gif]

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 Post subject: Re: Getting Married in Russia
Post Number:#2  PostPosted: 04 Aug 2010 21:20 
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More information for Getting Married to a Russian or FSU National

Getting married in Russia is much easier, cheaper and in the long run it will save you a lot of money if you use local translators for your Documents. If you are an EU citizen, live and work in another EU member state and not the country you were born, then after the wedding bringing your wife, a NON EU National, to the country you live and work, under the Directive 2004/38/EU it's FREE!

Directive 2004/38/EU simplify administrative formalities for applying EU citizens' right to move and reside freely throughout the European Union
(Light blue text is always a link! The above is a Link to the new Legislation! )


Free movement and right of residence

The new legal and political environment entailed by EU citizenship has allowed for a fresh look to be taken at arrangements for European citizens to exercise their rights, and fulfil their obligations in this regards through the creation of a single set of rules governing freedom of movement.

European citizens can, mutatis mutandis, move between Member States on similar terms as nationals of a Member State moving around or changing their place of residence inside their own country.

    • Family members, irrespective of their nationality, have the right to accompany and establish themselves with a european citizen who is residing in the territory of another Member State. Family members who can enjoy rights under Community law include the spouse, minor (under 21) or dependent children, and dependent ascendants, though in the case of students only the spouse and dependent children enjoy this right. If the family members are not EU citizens, they may be required to hold an entry visa by the Member State where they intend accompany the EU citizen. They shall be granted this visa free of charge and with all facilities by that Member State.

Also If you are a British Citizen and have lived and work in another EU member state and been established there for few years, then when you return to the country to live permanently, you can still bring your wife, a NON EU National, to your own country under the same Directive.

1.3 Status of British nationals in relation to exercising Treaty rights (Light blue text is always a link)

The UK is also a member the European Economic Area; however, a British National cannot exercise a Treaty Right in the UK. A British National, and their third country national family members, can only benefit from European law if they meet the criteria established in the case of SURINDER SINGH.

The ECJ case of SURINDER SINGH states that nationals of a Member State who go with their non-EEA family members to another Member State to exercise a Treaty right in an economic capacity, will on return to their home state, be entitled to bring their non-EEA family members to join them under EC law. (For example, a British national who has lived and worked in Germany with his/her non-EEA national spouse/children and is now returning to the UK with his/her family).

The SURINDER SINGH judgement is incorporated into the 2006 Regulations in regulation 9, and:

• is confined to those cases where a British national has worked or been self established in an EEA State.

Please see section 2.5.1 for more information on family members of British nationals.


Bear in mind the following - if you intend marrying a Russian woman and have a family you will find that women from Bulgaria, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary are not generally eagerly waiting to get married very quickly. There are no pressing external factors that would cause this and usually they are patient and sincere. On the other hand the Russian woman of your dreams will marry you far more readily and accept larger age gap, as this may well be the only way for you to be together because of the visa constrains. She will obviously also feel more secure about living with you should you be willing to make this commitment.

Take note that your girlfriend is going to move out of her country, leave behind probably her property, family, her network of friends and in a nutshell everything therefore in my opinion it would be nice to make that day very special for her and marry her in Russia. There she will be surrounded by her family friends and relatives in her big special day. After all she is sacrificing everything to be with you and for at least the next couple of years she will need your full support to adjust to her new life on a foreign country, so why not make the effort and make it special for her?



Applying for your wife’s Entrance Visa under the EU Directive 2004/38/EU


After you get married you must Apostil, translate and notarise your Marriage certificate and then you can apply to the Visa Application Centre of the British Consulate in Moscow. Your wife must make an application on Line in English and also make an appointment. Make sure you ask for 3-5 copies of your Marriage Certificate (Translated and Notarised) because you will need the extra copies later in the UK.

UK Visa Application Centre in Moscow

On the VAC site you will find a link for the application Form and you can play with it with no problem. Make sure you click VISA FOR EEA family member or something similar and also make sure you have valid passport with you from your original country!

For more details on how to go about bringing your wife to UK under the Directive 2004/38/EU and what documents are required……

UK Border Agency - European citizens

Remember the Entrance visa is issued for FREE and is valid for 6 months.

When your wife arrives in the UK apply ASAP for her Resident Card as it takes 6 months and it's still FREE.

An here is the icing and cherry on your marriage cake! [wink.gif]
When the Resident card is issued then your wife can join you and travel in any EU country without visa!
[glad.gif]

Unfortunately the no visa rule does not apply for the settlement visa that the wife of a British National has to have to come and join hin in the UK. When she wants to travel to the EU she will have always to apply for a Schengen visa, which is very inconvenient, as you have to plan everything and can't for example travel to France at the spar of the moment! [sad.gif]


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 Post subject: Re: Getting Married in Russia
Post Number:#3  PostPosted: 04 Aug 2010 22:54 
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Russian Wedding


Russian wedding protocol is quite different from the any other marriage ceremonies anywhere in the world. For example, there are no bridesmaids, a best man and flower girls.

Engagement: In Russian wedding, there is no such a thing as engagement. A man asks a woman if she would marry him, but there is not ring exchange. Also there is no big announcement about the event but just the closest friends and family are informed.

The wedding is usually planned soon, within 1-3 months. The time depends on the department of registrations. The couple is supposed to apply in writing to the department of registrations asking to register their marriage. The department will give them available dates but according to the law there must be at least 1 month of "waiting period". During Soviet time this period was 3 months. People in Russia marry early, mostly at the age of 18-22, and often one of the partners collects the application form from the registratios office - ZAGS. After the couple has applied to the department of registration, they are considered as being a bride and a groom.

In Russian weddings "engagement rings" are those which the couple exchanges during the wedding ceremony. The two buy them together; the groom pays; this is the necessary part of the wedding tradition. Russian engagement rings are in reality just plain wedding bands of gold, without diamonds or stones, and they wear them on the right hand on the finger. An "engagement ring" on the LEFT hand on the same finger will mean for Russians that the person is divorced or widowed.

The bride`s dress is usually made especially for the occasion.


The necessary part of the wedding ceremony is a wedding train of several cars. Big black cars are considered as luxury in Russia and usually if the couple has money, they will hire at least one for the bride. The more cars participating in the wedding train, the more proud the couple will be. Usually they ask all their friends and relatives who have cars to join the ceremony. The cars are used to collect the bride, and go to ZAGS for registration ceremony.

A Russian Wedding is an event where everybody must be drunk. No one will be surprised if people drink themselves to unconscious on the wedding - and many do. Having plenty of food is typical for any Russian function, and a wedding is not an exception.

The Wedding - Day 1

A Russian wedding lasts for at least two days. Sometimes it stretches to a week.

The groom and the bride have their family and friends with them; it means, the groom`s company meets at groom`s place and the bride`s company meets at bride`s place. The groom goes to pick up the bride for ZAGS, and then they go go to the ceremony of "brakosochetanie" - when a bride and a groom exchange rings and put their signatures in the registry.

Traditionally the wedding is ruled by "witnesses". The best friend of the groom/bride usually acts as his/her "witness". Those witnesses must prepare a script for the wedding so guests are entertained all the time. A Russian wedding must be fun, or it is not a wedding.

When the groom arrives to fetch the bride he must have some spare time until the ceremony as he is about to fight to get the bride. Russians live in blocks, and the higher the bride`s apartment, the more effort the groom has to spend. There are posters with jokes about family life and wedding all over the walls on his way up made by the bride`s friends. Each stair-well is a challenge for the groom - he must answer a question to be allowed to make those few steps up. It`s a team work - bride`s friends ask devious questions, and the groom must answer with the help of his friends. For example, he may be shown a few photos of baby girls and he must say which one is his bride. If he guessed wrong, he must pay cash to pass this stair-well. He can be also asked to sing, to dance or anything else. But eventually he will make it of course. This tradition seems to be similar to the teasing rituals and juta chupana kind of rituals in Indian weddings, where the bride`s sisters and friends would tease the groom and would have him pay for every challenge and prank.

After the groom reaches his bride, they go to ZAGS. Usually it`s only the closest family and friends who accompany them and the rest of the guests only join at the reception.

Two crossed golden rings are Russian symbol of marriage that may be also seen on wedding invitations and at wedding venue and vehicles.

The ceremony in ZAGS is similar to what happens at a civil ceremony in the West - the bride and the groom will be asked if they want to marry each other, and they must answer "Yes", then they exchange rings, then they kiss each other, then sign the registry, then the witnesses sign. The official representative of ZAGS will say a few words of greetings, and play the official hymn of marriage ceremony - march of Mendelssohn. The guests who are present give flowers to the bride, and drink a bottle of Champagne.

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Nowadays many couples opt for a marriage in a church but church marriages in Russia still do not have official status, and the couple must be officially married by ZAGS before the marriage in church. So if the couple plans to have a church ceremony, they will usually go through the civil ceremony a few days before the wedding.

The Russian church ceremony is colorful and solemn but the complete traditional ceremony is very long, and guests and the couple have to stand during the ceremony as there are no benches in Russian churches at all; people must stand during all church services. Most couples wisely opt for a shortened version of the church marriage ceremony.

After the marriage ceremony the couple leaves the guests for a tour around the city sights. Usually it`s only the couple and the witnesses in one car but sometimes it may be two cars and the closest friends. After 2-3 hours of the city tour the couple arrives at the reception. Having more than 100 guests is not typical; guests at Russian weddings are usually only family and friends.

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Welcome to their home by the mother of the bride with salt, karavay and honey

The most important role at the reception is that of the toastmaster (tamada). Usually this role is placed upon a friend or relative who is famous for his or her verbal talents. Whether a hired professional or a close personal friend, it is the job of the tamada to introduce the guests, toast the newlyweds, organize singing contests and make sure that everyone is having a good time.

The biggest concern at the wedding is to have enough liquor. A Russian Wedding is an event where everybody must be drunk. No one will look at you odd if you drink yourself to unconsciousness on the wedding – and many do. It is considered rude otherwise.

Having plenty of food is typical for any Russian function, and a wedding is not an exception. If you have enough liquor and food, the wedding is basically ready. A Russian wedding must be fun, or it is not a wedding.

Popular Russian Wedding Traditions including having a Tamada (toastmaster), bread and salt ceremony, breaking glasses, and the stealing of the bride or Krazha Nevesty among others. There is also a traditional wedding welcome bread, the Karavay, usually on a decorated handmade towel called a Rushnik, welcoming the newlyweds to the family.

First thing to start the reception is a toast. The first toast is of course for the new couple. One of the witnesses will announce the first toast, and then the parents have their say. Witnesses will also add some greetings, usually in the form of a poem, and eventually announce the toast itself: For the first toast people usually drink Champagne, and after the first sip somebody says "Gor`ko!" ("Bitter!"); it means the vine is bitter. All guests together start to shout "Gor`ko! Gor`ko!" To make the vine sweet, the newlywed couple must kiss each other. They must stand up and kiss each other for as long as possible, and all the guests start counting while they are kissing. If the couple was not kissing long enough, the guests can insist that the vine is still bitter, and request another kiss. This happens after almost every following toast, so the couple has lots of kissing during the wedding.

The second toast is always for the parents; and after a witness announced the toast, the bride and the groom have their say of "Thank you" to both bride`s and groom`s parents.

Usually when a person says the toast, he gives his gift to the newlywed. Some time after the beginning of the reception when people start to become drunk the witnesses will ask everybody to give their gifts and one of the witnesses will collect envelopes from the rest of the guests with a tray. Then the first part of the reception is over. Then people have time to dance. First dance is opened by the new couple. After the music starts, there is no exact script anymore, and witnesses can relax a little.

Movements become quite hectic; some people go out "to refresh", and at some moment in this movement the bride gets "stolen"! She disappears, and when the groom starts looking for her, he is faced with a request for a ransom. Usually it`s his friends who "steal" the bride. But he must watch out - the bride sometimes may be stolen a few times!

Image


Then there are the bride`s friends - they steal the bride`s shoe. The groom must pay ransom for the shoe too - the guests enjoy watching wrangles. (Sometimes the groom is having so much fun that he does not notice that his bride has disappeared; and his buddies have to tell him about it. Some grooms don`t seem to care, and have their first marriage scandal on the day of the wedding - of course the bride participates in the "stealing".)

There is no tradition of a wedding cake in Russia though they have adopted this western tradition. They give a cake at the end of the reception, but there is no custom of bride and groom cutting it together.

Often guests leave the wedding in such a condition that they cannot remember what happened. If this was the case with the majority of guests, then the wedding was a huge success.

The Wedding; Day 2

The day after the reception, the immediate family and close friends will get together again at the home of the bride or groom’s parents. There are lots of games and funny events designed to raise more money for the newlyweds. For instance, guests are often told that they have to “rent” their forks and knives for eating. Guests are not given knives, forks or spoons. Nor are they given glasses. They must “Rent” any utensil they use. This money goes to the newlyweds.

Once everyone has had their meal, the Bride must “clean” the floors. The fun part is that the guests are allowed to mess up as much as they want while she is cleaning. The catch is – NO dirt, etc. They can only mess the floor up with money – coins or banknotes.

Usually people make a special effort to get LOTS of change, so the bride has to work hard to “clean” the mess. The collected money goes to the newlyweds and some generous guests can significantly contribute to the new family’s budget.

Traditional foods are served, such as borscht (beet soup with vegetables and meat) and ukha (fish soup); main course of pelmini (a noodle dough encasing a filling, similar to ravioli). There is no custom of cutting a wedding cake in Russia.

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