Everything you need to know about marriage in Poland
There are generally two ways to get married in Poland: a civil ceremony and a religious or traditional ceremony. About 140,000 marriages are held annually in the country by both nationals and foreigners living there. Since both civil and religious ceremonies are recognized by the country, couples may choose to have only a traditional or religious marriage ceremony without another separate civil marriage. The use of proxies is allowed according to Polish laws. Foreigners who may not be present during the course of the marriage ceremony may use representatives.
For a marriage to be valid in Poland, certain conditions must be met, and some required documents must be duly filled out and signed by the parties involved for the marriage to be fully legal. The minimum legal age to get married in Poland is 18 years. This age applies to both nationals and foreigners. However, a woman who is 16 years old or older may be allowed to marry under special circumstances. She must also get authorization from the court.
Marriage between two people of the same gender or sex is prohibited in Poland. Foreigners and citizens may also not get married to a partner of the bloodline or family, as it is illegal. This applies to one’s immediate family and other close relatives. In Poland, a person who is already in a relationship may not get married again until the previous relationship has ended. The relationship or marriage may be in Poland or any other foreign country. But the couples are required to submit a document to prove their single status. Read on to find out more about marriage in Poland.
A civil marriage in Poland is legally binding and can be between two Polish nationals or foreigners. This type of marriage is conducted at the civil registry office, and the couples are required to submit some documents to the head of the registry office. The documents that are required are listed below.
- A valid means of identification (I.D. card)
- Original copy of the birth certificate. If the birth certificate is in a foreign language, it must be notarized and translated to Polish by an authorized translator.
- Annulment or Divorce Certificate. This applies to a partner who was previously married. The document will show they are no longer in that marriage and are currently single and eligible to marry.
- Proof of payment of stamp duty. This is done at the account of the office that will conduct the marriage or at the cash desk.
For foreign partners, a document must be retrieved from their home country that states that they are allowed to get married. A person who is prohibited from lawfully getting married in their home country cannot get married in Poland.
For foreigners who are unable to provide this document during the marriage application process, they are allowed to submit an exemption from the duty to submit that document. This is referred to as a "non-contentious proceeding" at the foreigner’s request, which is issued by district courts. Non-contentious proceedings simply mean those proceedings are not in any way related to the process of starting a court case. When a foreigner wants to submit an exemption to the obligation of submitting a document, they must submit a filled-out application to the district court so that it can be transferred to the office of the civil registry.
In the application, the foreign partner is expected to state the reasons why they will not be able to obtain the specified document from their home country. The civil ceremony usually takes place outside or inside the office, and the partners have the freedom to choose their most preferred place. However, for a ceremony to take place outside the office, an additional fee of PLN 1,000 must be paid by the couple.
Over 90% of Polish nationals recognize it as a Christian denomination of the Roman Catholic Church. This implies that most religious marriages in Poland are done by Christians and take place in the church. In Poland, there are specific types of churches that are allowed to register the union between couples with the civil registry office. These churches are the Catholic Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Baptist Church, and the Lutheran Church.
Other religious bodies and churches that may not conduct a marriage with a civil registration include the Old-Rote Eastern Church, the Karaim religious union, and the Muslim religious unit. People of these religious beliefs who would like to legally get married in Poland must also hold a civil marriage.
In Poland, a concordat marriage may be held by partners getting married where certain documents required by the churches or religious bodies and the civil registry are submitted at the temple. This is to confirm that there are no circumstances that may result in the parties' being unable to marry, and some of these documents include the family clinic’s confirmation of meetings, a baptism certificate, a completion certificate for premarital studies, etc. The documents that must be taken to the civil registry office include all the ones that were previously stated in the civil marriage section.
A completed certificate must be delivered to the bride and groom as well as their other witnesses. This certificate is presented by a priest to the civil registry office in the same district where the marriage will take place. Upon the completion of this, a marriage certificate is drawn up. It may take up to 2 weeks before the couples are able to receive short copies of their marriage certificate from the registry office, and one of the couples is allowed to apply for the copies provided he or she has a valid I.D.
Foreign Marriage in Poland
For foreigners, a marriage that was held in a foreign registry office must also be registered in Poland. Here, the partner is required to submit an official statement as regards their name and an application to request for the marriage certificate to be registered in Poland. This statement is to be made in the presence of the head of a registrar’s office in Poland or the consulate abroad. It takes about one month from the time the documents were submitted before the marriage is allowed to take place. Partners have the option to request a shorter waiting period by sending a letter to the director of the civil registry office and stating why they want a shorter waiting period. To obtain the transcript of the marriage certificate, the documents below are needed:
- An original copy of the marriage certificate
- The couple’s birth certificate
- A formal application requesting the transcript
- A notarization and translation of the document in Polish
- A statement about the surname used after the marriage
- A valid means of identification (I.D. card)
Traditions of marriages in Poland
Since the majority of the people in Poland are Christians, most marriages are held in the Roman Catholic Church. The invitations to the church ceremony and wedding reception are usually two separate ones, and some guests may be invited to the church ceremony but not the other party.
The church ceremony is called Slub, and the wedding party is referred to as the Wesele. The slub is usually held on Saturday afternoon and generally lasts less than two hours. The wedding party begins immediately after it and can last all night or even into the morning in some cases.
Poland has different kinds of dishes that are served during the wedding party. Unlike some western ceremonies where only the main course of a meal is served, ceremonies in Poland may involve multiple courses. The food is served with different kinds of appetizers, fruits, confectionery, etc. It is a custom in the country to serve chicken soup as the first dish during the wedding party. This is referred to as the rosol. This is followed by vegetable salads, meats, and similar types of food. Normally, guests at these parties expect up to five entrees or more, accompanied by enough vodka to go around.
Bread and salt
This is a popular tradition in Poland, where the bride and groom are welcomed by their parents with bread, salt, and two shots of vodka. They must eat the bread and also take the shots in one gulp. Once they finish the drink, they must throw the glass behind them, and the breaking of the glass on the ground is used to represent a long life filled with happiness and prosperity. A lot of modern Polish couples still engage in this ceremonial rite.
A Polish marriage ceremony is never complete without a vodka drink. The Polish are skilled alcohol drinkers, and most times, vodka is the only type of drink that is served during wedding parties. Sometimes, other types of wine may be served. Guests are usually served fatty foods, as this slows down the absorption of the alcohol.
Under certain circumstances, marriages in Poland may be nullified and rendered invalid or void under the laws of Poland.
If a marriage is held between two people and either one or both of them are under the age of 18, the marriage is annulled and rendered void. The only way an underage person can get married in Poland is if there is a special circumstance and the family court has granted such a person permission. Once the underage person reaches the age of 18, the action of nullity is removed.
A marriage between two people where one or both parties have a mental illness or disability is invalid under the laws of Poland. The only way a person may get married to someone who has a mental illness or disability is if the partner's state of mind or health does not pose a threat to the marriage in the present or future. The annulment message will be lifted once the mental issue has stopped.
For a marriage to be valid, both partners must be eligible to marry in Poland, and this applies to both nationals and foreigners. Foreigners must not be prohibited or restricted from marrying in their home country. Any marriage held in this situation is rendered invalid, and the annulment is not removed until the partner’s legal issues regarding marriage are resolved.
A marriage in Poland must only be held between two consenting adults. The consent may be written or verbal, and any marriage where one or both partners were forced into the union by means such as identity theft, threats, or coercion is illegal and invalid in Poland.
Poland frowns at marriages between multiple people at once. Polygamy is illegal in Poland, and a person is permitted to only be in a relationship with and married to one person. A person who is already in a marriage is not allowed to enter another marriage unless the first one has been legally terminated.
The marriage between a person and his or her close relatives is prohibited and illegal in Poland. This applies to persons that are related by direct bonds or affinity. If a marriage is held between two people of the same blood, it is rendered invalid.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
The Polish law only recognizes marriage between two people of opposite sexes. Marriage in Poland is only solemnized when all the requirements have been met. Anyone intending to marry must be at least 18 years old. However, minors can be allowed to get married if granted permission from a family court. Marriage between persons who are affiliated either by blood or adoption is prohibited by law.
A document stating that there are no impediments to the wedding must be submitted to the civil registry office alongside your identity documents, which may include your ID cards or passport and birth certificates. In the event that one does not have a Polish birth certificate, a foreign document that is on par with a Polish birth certificate would suffice. If one or both parties have been previously married, a certificate of divorce or death must be presented to the registry, as marriage, according to Polish law, is centered only around monogamy.
Intending Couples should be able to give consent to marriage in a stable state of mind, but if one of the spouses is mentally unstable, he or she may get married based on a court's permission. A document stating one's capability to get married must be provided, as incapacitated persons cannot get married. You would be asked to pay for proof of payment of stamp duty at the civil registry office.
If one of the couples is a foreigner, he or she must submit a copy of their birth certificate, a document from his or her country of origin attesting to the fact that he or she is eligible to get married. If such a document seems difficult to obtain, the court may overlook the need to submit it. If they were previously married, a certificate of marriage and proof of annulment or a certificate showing that the marriage is nonexistent must be submitted alongside other required documents. All foreign documents would be translated to Polish by a certified translator.
In Poland, you can decide to get married at the civil registry office or at a religious institution. If you decide to have it at a church, you would be required to submit important documents like identity documents, baptism certificates, a certificate of completion of premarital lessons, and so on. But it won't be as burdensome as that if you use the registry.
During the marriage ceremony, in order to verify your personal data, your identity documents and those of your chosen witnesses must be submitted. After the marriage, a certificate will be given to you free of charge by the civil registry office.
Finally, after the wedding, you're expected to submit a statement concerning the choice of surname; if such a statement is not submitted, your current surnames would be used, but your children would have double surnames consisting of the addition of both parents' surnames separated by a hyphen.
According to Polish law, both husband and wife have equal rights. They both commit to being faithful, living, supporting, and respecting each other while working for the good of the family.
Both spouses have a right to family, social, economic, and political life. They have the right to bring up their children in line with their own beliefs. Under Polish law, one has the right to legal protection of one's private and family life and to make decisions to protect one's honor and reputation is made available under the polish law.
They have the right to ensure that their children have access to a sound moral, educational, and social upbringing. A limitation to these rights can only be made into effect by a court's ruling. Both spouses have the right to work and provide for the social and financial well-being of the family.
If one of the couples is a foreigner, he or she isn't granted citizenship automatically, but over a period of time, if all requirements have been met, he or she has the right to become a citizen of Poland. Over this period of time, the foreigner has the right to conduct economic activities and is automatically protected from deportation. and also has the right to buy real estate after obtaining a residence card.
The polish wedding industry makes about 7 billion PLN, or approximately 1.65 billion euros, annually, and only about 3 percent of these weddings cost above 150,000 PLN, which means that the remaining 97 percent cost between 50,000 and 150,000 PLN.
An accurate and detailed budget must be made by the husband and wife for their wedding day. Over the last 10 years, the cost of getting married in Poland has increased by at least 30 percent, which means that if 50,000 PLN used to be enough to cater for 100 guests, now you'd be praying that 80,000 PLN would be enough.
Traditionally, the reception always took up most of the budget, but in recent times, the decorations, attractions, and souvenirs have taken up more of the budget.
In essence, while you're trying to make your wedding very memorable, also consider how financially capable you and your spouse are before delving into anything; you don't want to start your family while in debt.
Polish families believe largely in gender related divisions of labor. Both parties have a duty to support each other to ensure the smooth running of the family. However, in traditional Polish families, the household chores and childcare responsibilities most often fall into the laps of the wife. The husband can decide to assist the wife if the workload is becoming overwhelming.
Both parties have the right to work as long as they fall into the workable age category; therefore, they both have the duty to shoulder the financial responsibility of the family. As much as there's equality among spouses, and no matter how much agreement is reached, the larger workload always falls on the shoulders of the wife, and this affords her almost no time for leisure. Both parties have a duty to be responsible and faithful to each other in every way. The husband and wife are obligated to live together and contribute to the provision of shelter, food, clothing, or any material need of the family.
Getting married in Poland is quite straightforward for both nationals and foreigners. All the documents that are required from either the civil registry office or the church must be provided for a marriage to be legal. Some of the paperwork used by churches may be different from that of the civil registry. However, there are some important documents that are submitted during the ceremonies of both types of marriage.
Minors are not allowed to get married in Poland, as the minimum legal age is 18 years. If anyone under that age is to get married, parental or guardian consent must be provided, and there must be authorization from the family court. Not all religious associations have the authority to perform a legally binding marriage in Poland. Spouses will have to also do a civil ceremony if their place of worship is not authorized. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Poland.
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