Everything you need to know about marriage in North Macedonia
Over 13,000 marriages are registered every year in North Macedonia, a country in the Balkans famous for its rich cultural heritage. The Southeastern European country is officially called the Republic of North Macedonia, and there are different types of ways through which people get married there. The two major types of marriages in the country are religious and civil marriages. However, only civil marriages are legally binding in Macedonia. Other forms of marriage do not hold legal grounds of their own and are not legally binding in North Macedonia or other countries abroad.
North Macedonia’s society is multicultural and diverse. The country’s culture is family-oriented, and families are often actively involved in every major event in one’s life, including marriages. Most times, couples court for an extended period of time, which may be up to two or three years, before deciding to tie the knot and get married. The minimum legal marriage age in the country is 18 years for both spouses; however, there are certain exceptions allowed. A spouse between the ages of 16 and 18 may be allowed to get married under extenuating circumstances, but parental consent must be provided.
About 7 percent of North Macedonian girls enter marriage before the age of 18, and 1 percent of them are married before the age of 15. There are speculations that this number is actually higher because not all the marriages in the country are officially and legally registered. Like in most other countries, child marriages in North Macedonia often stem from gender inequality, where the female spouses are seen as lesser when compared to the males. The rest of the article covers the marriage laws and rights in North Macedonia.
A civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is legally binding in North Macedonia. Because the country is a popular destination for destination weddings, many foreigners marry there each year. The North Macedonia Registrar’s Office (Matichna sluzba) is in charge of all marriage application and registration activities. All civil marriages must be performed by a registered marriage officer at the registry. The first step to getting married civilly in north Macedonia is to present a declaration at the local office where the marriage documents will be obtained. The declaration is to serve as a notice of marriage to the general public, making them aware that the status of both spouses is changing from single to married.
The registry used for the marriage must be in the same state or municipality where either one or both spouses reside. The declaration is often published for a week or two. If nobody comes up with an objection as to why the marriage should not happen, then the marriage registrar goes ahead and issues a marriage certificate to the spouses. In the past, intercultural marriages used to be very rare and somewhat prohibited in most regions. Spouses often marry people who come from the same community as them or who share common ground in terms of religious beliefs and ethnicity. However, things are quite different now.
Intercultural marriages are now happening in North Macedonia without discrimination issues. In the country, two people who are related to each other are not allowed to get married. Spouses who are related by blood or adoption are not allowed to perform a civil marriage. Also, before a foreign spouse is allowed to contract a marriage in North Macedonia, they must show that they are facing no legal obstructions in their own home country. This is because if a spouse is not allowed to marry in their home country, North Macedonia will also not contract a marriage fee for such a person. The single status certificate is very important and must be submitted by all foreign spouses, regardless of what country they are from. All foreign-issued certificates must be translated into Macedonian, the official language of north Macedonia.
The certificates must also be endorsed or exchanged for a locally acceptable version. This is often issued by the embassy or consulate. Also, foreign spouses must ensure that the documents obtained from their home country are legalized. This is done with an apostille, which includes an authorization stamp. The witnesses provided by spouses must not be related to them, and they must know the couple well enough to be able to swear an affidavit stating that both spouses are single and free to marry. The registrar has the authority to decide if he no longer wants to go ahead with the marriage registration, which may be due to discrepancies or the detection of fraud. The documents that both spouses must provide are listed below.
- National identity card or a valid passport
- Both spouses are required to submit copies of their birth certificates, which must include their names as they are addressed as well as those of their parents.
- Proof of residence This is often requested from foreign spouses, and it must show that they have been living in North Macedonia for the stipulated amount of time before the marriage registration begins.
- Divorce or death certificate. Widowed or separated spouses are required to submit either of these documents.
- Deed Poll. This document is required for spouses who changed their names before getting married.
- A certificate of single status or freedom to marry is required from foreign spouses.
Receipt of the payment of all relevant fees
Religious marriages are very common in North Macedonia; however, these marriages hold no legal grounds on their own. For a marriage to be legal, a civil marriage must be performed first before any other type of marriage is conducted. The country is dominated by Christians, and there are several denominations of Christian churches in north Macedonia. The Macedonian Orthodox Church is the largest denomination in the country, with over 46 percent of the total population.
The second largest religious group is Islam, which makes up over 32 percent of the total population of the country. In North Macedonia, most of the marriage conditions of civil marriages must be met by spouses who want to get married in the church. Churches may organize a premarital class for the spouses. The priest or pastor is often in charge of the classes, and during this time, he lectures the spouses on how to live happily and enjoy their marriage. The priest also ensures both partners are truly ready for such a marriage.
Marriage traditions in North Macedonia
This is a popular ceremonial rite in north Macedonia that symbolizes the eternity of the marriage between the two spouses. The bread is often round, just like the wedding ring, to show that the marriage has no beginning and no end. The Godfather often breaks bread over the heads of the newlyweds during the wedding reception.
This is a marriage ritual that started in ancient times and is still common in north Macedonian marriages to this day. The custom is that the groom should be shaved before the ceremony; however, the groom may be experiencing some pre-wedding jitters, which may cause him to cut himself. Therefore, this is done by his groomsmen who may try to use objects like axes, swords etc. as a comical relief for the groom to take his mind off the stress.
Money in Shoes
This custom is often performed during the wedding reception. It is customary for the bride to wear shoes where one leg is bigger than the other. These shoes are frequently provided by the bride's brother-in-law, who must fill the larger shoe with money until it fits the bride perfectly. This tradition is still followed in marriages in the country today.
Marriage between people of the same gender is not permitted in North Macedonia. Homosexuality and same-sex sexual acts are allowed in the country; however, members of the LGBT community face various legal challenges that are not faced by others. There are no discrimination protections for households headed by same-sex couples, and they cannot enjoy marriage rights and benefits in North Macedonia.
Polygamy is illegal in North Macedonia. A man is only allowed to marry one woman at a time. If a person who is previously married wishes to enter a new marriage, they must submit evidence that their previous marriage was legally terminated before entering a new marriage. Since the country is dominated by Christians, the number of people who attempt such marriages is quite low.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
Getting married in North Macedonia is not cumbersome; all that is required of couples is to obey the marriage laws of the country. Before a marriage can be legally binding, several requirements must be met, according to the law, before marriage is allowed to take place. In North Macedonia, the only recognized form of marital union is civil marriage; religious or customary marriages do not have any legal value. There must not be any legal impediment to marriage on both sides; the husband and wife must be eligible and capable of contracting marriage. They both must be physically and mentally stable before they are allowed to enter into marriage. The legal age for marriage in North Macedonia is 18 years for both men and women.
Anyone who has not attained the legal age for marriage is not permitted to contract a civil marriage; however, under extenuating circumstances, a minor who is 16 years old might be allowed to get married provided they can prove to the court that they are capable of contracting marriage. Before a court is permitted to grant minors the right to get married, the couple must undergo a medical examination. Intending couples must submit a marriage application showing their intent to marry, after which a license would be issued and they would be able to contract marriage, which must be registered at the civil registry. Both the husband and wife must be single at the time of marriage; they must not be in any existing marriage while contracting a new marriage agreement. Polygamy is prohibited in North Macedonia; a man is not allowed to marry more than one wife at once, and a woman is also not permitted to practice polyandry.
Marriage in North Macedonia is based on the free will of the couple, which indicates that the use of force or violence to contract marriage is against the law in Macedonia and that this act is a punishable offense. The husband and wife must be able to give their voluntary consent to marriage without any external influence, and only after a year can a marriage that was contracted through the use of force be eligible for annulment. In the event that either of the couples has been married in the past, they are required by law to provide proof that the previous marriage has been dissolved by submitting a certificate of divorce or death in the event of widowhood. Cohabitation is permitted under the law of marriage in Macedonia; if they have lived together for at least a year, they are to be recognized as husband and wife. All documentation required by law must be submitted and verified before marriage can take place.
Married women and men have the right to property and Inheritance during the marriage. At the time of marriage, the husband and wife's right to own property is under the joint marital regime of property, which means that all property obtained during marriage belongs to the husband and wife together and not individually. They have the right to own property that was acquired before marriage separately, and in the event of divorce, the husband and wife do not have to split this property equally; however, the property that is under the joint marital regime is to be divided equally among the husband and wife at divorce.
Both the husband and wife have the right to choose the residence of the family, and they both have the right to be involved in the decision-making process of the family. They both have the right to decide on the moral and educational upbringing that is best for the children. The husband and wife are both recognized as heads of the home; therefore, they have the right to be referred to as the legal guardians of the children and also exercise parental authority over the children when necessary. They have the right to work and receive equal payment for that work without any discrimination at the workplace. They are also entitled to partake in any socioeconomic and political activity without restrictions arising from their marital status.
There is no average cost of marriage when it comes to wedding celebrations in North Macedonia; the financial ability of the couple and their families is the determinant of the total cost of marriage in the country, and the number of invited guests is a determinant as well. The average cost of a hotel room in North Macedonia ranges from at least $39 to as much as $111 per night, depending on the location of the hotel. If the couple hosts at least 15 people in a hotel, they would be spending a lot on accommodations.
About 50% of the wedding budget goes to renting the wedding venue and catering to the guests. The food and drinks at the event cost around $10 per person, which makes an average of $10,000 for the cost of feeding guests. Music and entertainment sometimes come with the venue or hotel rental package, but if the couple wish to hire their own personal musician, they should expect to spend no less than $2,500. At the civil registry, a small fee of $50 would be paid to the appropriate authorities. The average cost of the wedding attire of the couple depends on whether it is borrowed, rented, bought, or sewn, but it is estimated to cost around $3000-$5000.
According to the law, intending couples must understand what it means to be married and the duties and responsibilities that come with marriage before it can take place, some of which are the duty to love, respect, support, and be committed to the marriage. The husband and wife, upon contracting marriage, have a duty to ensure that all the needs of the family are met before and after the children are born.
They must ensure that all the family's needs are adequately met. The husband and wife must not fail in carrying out their duties, as this could be a legal ground for either of the spouses to file for divorce. The husband and wife must be able to provide good environmental conditions for the growth and development of the children in the home.
North Macedonia has various beautiful destinations for wedding ceremonies. Every year, there are foreigners from various countries who tie the knot in the country by contracting a civil marriage or other forms of marriage they want.
The country allows people of the same sex to have sexual relations however, they are not allowed to marry each other. Foreign spouses must ensure all their documents are translated to Macedonian before their submission. We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about marriage in North Macedonia.
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