What do I need to take into account if I decide to marry or enter into a registered partnership?

There are a number of things you will need to take into account if you decide to marry or enter into a registered partnership.

Requirements for marrying or entering into a registered partnership

If you wish to marry or enter into a registered partnership you will need to comply with the following requirements:

  • You and your partner must be 18 years or older. In some cases it may be possible to marry at a younger age. You and your partner must not be married to or be in a registered partnership with anyone else.
  • Are you under guardianship? You will need the permission of the guardian or the limited jurisdiction judge.
  • The following family members are forbidden to marry each other or enter into a registered partnership with each other: parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and brothers and sisters.

Dispensation to marry

If a couple does not meet the requirements for marrying or entering into a partnership, the Ministry of Justice and Security can grant a dispensation in certain cases. For example, if the people who wish to marry are an adopted brother and sister. This is called a dispensation to marry.

Role of the municipality in marriage or registered partnership

If you wish to marry or enter into a registered partnership, you must contact the municipality you live in and complete the following steps.

  • Inform the municipality at least two weeks before the planned date that you wish to marry or enter into a registered partnership. Make an appointment with the registrar (ambtenaar van de burgerlijke stand) in the municipality in which you wish to marry or enter into partnership. The registrar will tell you which documents you have to take to the meeting.
  • You will need to appoint at least two and no more than four witnesses. The witnesses must be 18 years or older.

For more information, see your municipality’s website or contact the municipality directly.

Registering an intended marriage or registered partnership online

As of 1 July 2016 it is possible to register an intended marriage or registered partnership online in some municipalities. This option is not yet available in every municipality.

Birth certificate no longer needed

When you register an intended marriage or registered partnership, you may not have to show your birth certificate. Instead you can give your birth details to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships, who will then look up the information in the Personal Records Database (known in Dutch as the Basisregistratie personen or BRP). If that is not possible, the Registrar may ask you for your birth certificate after all. If the details cannot be checked in either of these ways, you can make a sworn statement about your birth details.

Religious marriage following a civil marriage

After your marriage or registered partnership ceremony has been solemnised by the registrar you may hold a religious ceremony in a church or mosque, if you wish. The religious ceremony may not take place before the civil ceremony.

Difference between marriage and registered partnership

There are two differences between marriage and registered partnership:

  • Declaration of marriage vows (ja-woord)

    If you marry, you must make a declaration of marriage vows. This is not required for registered partnerships.
  • Terminating the marriage or partnership

    A registered partnership can be ended without the involvement of the courts if you have no children under 18. A marriage can only be dissolved by a court. Additionally, legal separation is only possible if you are married, not if you are in a registered partnership.

Rights and obligations within marriage or registered partnership

Being married or in a registered partnership entails certain rights and obligations. These include maintenance and rights of inheritance. For more information, see ‘What are my rights and obligations within marriage and registered partnership?’

General community of property or a marriage contract

You can marry or enter into a registered partnership in general community of property or under a marriage contract or partnership agreement. For more information, see ‘What kind of property arrangements are possible in marriage and registered partnerships?’

Marriage in the absence of one of the partners

If it is impossible for you or your partner to appear before the registrar, the Ministry of Justice and Security may grant a dispensation for marriage by proxy, for example if one of the partners is seriously ill.

Converting a registered partnership into a marriage

If you have a registered partnership and want to marry your registered partner, you can have your registered partnership converted into a marriage in the municipality where you live. It is not possible to convert a marriage into a registered partnership.

Parenthood in marriage and registered partnership

A child born of a marriage or registered partnership between a man and woman will automatically have both partners registered as their parents, even if the man is not the biological father. This family-law relationship ensures that children inherit from their parents and confers parental responsibility for the child on the parents.

Parenthood in a same-sex marriage or partnership

In the Netherlands, a marriage or registered partnership between people of the same sex is almost the same as a marriage between a man and a woman. There are some important differences, though, if a child results from a same-sex marriage or partnership.

In a marriage or registered partnership between two women, the biological mother is automatically registered as parent. The co-mother may or may not be automatically registered as parent, depending on the situation.

Other rules apply to a marriage or registered partnership between two men. The father’s partner can acquire paternity via an affidavit of paternity or adoption.

Recognition of same-sex marriage and registered partnerships outside the Netherlands

Marriage between a man and a woman is accepted all over the world. However, same-sex marriage and registered partnership are not universally accepted. This can result in legal problems in the event of a longer stay abroad or emigration, for example where rights of inheritance are concerned.

Living abroad and marrying in the Netherlands

If you are a Dutch national living abroad and wish to marry or enter into a registered partnership in the Netherlands you will need to register your marriage or partnership at the municipality of The Hague’s Foreign Documents Department (in Dutch). This department will then draw up your marriage certificate or certificate of registered partnership.

Ministry responsible