Everything you need to know about marriage in Greenland

31 Jul 2023·19 min to read
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Greenland is a North American island country that is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The country is well-known for having the world's largest island, as well as indigenous Inuit people and glaciers. Every year, hundreds of marriages are performed in the country, and both foreigners and Greenlander nationals are allowed to get married there. Most couples in the country either perform a civil, religious, or symbolic wedding ceremony. A civil marriage is the only type of marriage recognized and protected under the laws of the country. In Greenland, there are various ethnic groups such as the Eskimo, Greenlandic Inuit, Thunumiit, Thule people, and so on. 

The country is multiethnic, and marriage rituals are performed in different ways depending on the customs and traditions of the spouses as well as the region or community they are from. Many years ago, traditional marriages were arranged for children between adults (their parents). Arranged marriages were seen as a way of strengthening the bonds and ties between families. At birth, the parents of the two sides often promise each other that upon maturity, their children will get married. This tradition was very popular in the past and was adopted by most families. Spouses did not have much say in how their marriage would be performed or who they would be getting married to. However, things are different in Greenland now. 

Spouses get married for love, and even in rural areas, the number of those practicing arranged marriages is quite low. There are different agencies in the country that help make the marriage process easier for foreign spouses. Different things, such as transportation, flowers, wedding cakes, etc., are often handled by the agency. This takes the stress off the couples' necks and helps them perform amazing ceremonies the way they have been visualized. Continue reading to find out about the marriage traditions in Greenland.

Civil marriages 

Civil marriages performed in Greenland are legally binding and recognized in the country and other parts of the world. This type of marriage is performed at the city hall or civil registry by an authorized marriage officer. The marriage application and registration process in the country begins with a marriage intention. Couples who want to marry in Greenland must first file an official intention to marry in the country. They must file the marriage intention in person and include their signatures. Both partners must clearly state that they are entering the marriage as a result of their own free will. Forced marriages cannot be performed in a civil ceremony as it is a punishable offense in the country. 

The minimum legal marriage age in Greenland is 18 years for both spouses. In some exceptional cases, a male and female spouse between the ages of 14 and 18 may be allowed to get married. Both spouses will be required to submit valid evidence of their ages before marriage. During the registration process, both a valid form of identification and certified birth certificates are required. If either of the spouses getting married is in the military, they are required to provide an affidavit of their intention to marry in Greenland, prepared by a legal representative in the armed services. Both spouses must ensure all the information they submitted during the marriage application and registration is legitimate. Falsification of information may result in the total cancellation of the marriage and prevent it from taking place. 

Most times, after the documents are submitted, there is usually a waiting period that lasts a few days or weeks. During this time, the marriage registrar verifies all submitted documents and ensures all information submitted is true before proceeding with the marriage ceremony. After the marriage license is issued, there is usually a validity period within which both spouses must get married. If the period of validity lapses and both partners are still unmarried, they will have to begin the process of getting married all over again. Greenlandic, Danish, and English are the three official languages spoken in the country. All marriage documents submitted by foreign spouses must be translated into either of these official languages. The main language in the country is Greenlandic. 

English and Danish are additional languages that are taught in schools. Spouses may provide an interpreter if they do not speak any of these languages during the marriage registration ceremony. A civil marriage will not be performed if both spouses do not provide valid witnesses. The witnesses provided must be of legal age in the country, and they must not be related to the spouses. Foreign spouses must submit documents supporting the claim that they are eligible for marriage in Greenland. Spouses prohibited from getting married in their home country are not allowed to get married in Greenland. The documents that must be submitted by both spouses are stated below.

Documents Required

  • Proof of identity. Greenlanders may submit a national ID card, while foreign spouses may provide a recent and valid passport.
  • Both partners must provide proof of age. The document submitted in this case is a recently obtained certified birth certificate.
  • During the marriage registration, both spouses must provide valid witnesses who are 18 years of age or older.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Either of these documents must be provided by separated or widowed spouses.
  • Proof of address must be submitted by foreign spouses getting married in Greenland.
  • Deed poll. Spouses who previously changed their names before marriage are required to provide this document.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are also quite common in Greenland. About 95 percent of the total number of people living in Greenland consider themselves to be Christians. Evangelical Lutheranism is followed by nearly two-thirds of the total population and is the largest church denomination in the country. Church weddings are not legally binding in Greenland; however, this does not stop spouses from contracting this type of marriage. During the marriage preparation phase, the priest or pastor may request the marriage certificate that was obtained from the civil marriage before proceeding to join the spouses together in holy matrimony in the church. 

Different churches have their own specific requirements that must be met by both spouses before they are allowed to get married. Most of the marriage conditions that are stated in civil marriages must be met by spouses who wish to perform a church marriage. Multiple marriages cannot be performed by the same partner in the church. This implies that the priest verifies if either of the partners has never been married in the church before.

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Marriage traditions in Greenland

Giving the bride away

During the church processional, the bride is walked down the aisle by her father, and she is given away to the groom. This is a tradition that has existed since ancient times, and this act signifies that the bride's father has transferred all responsibility for his daughter to his son-in-law.

Throwing rice 

This is a popular marriage tradition performed in Greenlandic wedding ceremonies. Here, rice is thrown on the couple by guests and other members of the wedding party as they leave the wedding venue. This symbolizes happiness and the beating of many beautiful children in Greenland. 

The first dance

This ceremonial rite is usually performed during the wedding reception. Here, the newlyweds are cheered on to dance by the guests. The guests usually form a big circle and clap while traditional music is being played. The newlyweds frequently demonstrate their dancing abilities in a rehearsed choreography.

Same-sex marriages 

Marriage between two people of the same sex is legal in Greenland. As a matter of fact, same-sex status and sexual activities have never been criminalized in the country. In Greenland, people are allowed to change their gender identity without hormone therapy or a diagnosis. There are various anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT members. Same-sex marriages became legal in the country in 2016. All the rights and benefits of marriage are available to same-sex couples as well.

Polygamous marriages 

Marriage is a union between a single man and a single woman in Greenland. In ancient times, there were some cases where men married multiple women in rural areas; however, this has changed over the years. Under the civil code of the country, all marriages must be monogamous. Polygamy is prohibited, and it is illegal for multiple spouses to be in a marriage or partnership together.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties


The laws of marriage in Greenland are codified in the Constitution of the country; it contains the legal age for marriage, who is and who is not allowed to get married in the country, the legal requirements, and so on. In Greenland, the law allows same-sex marriages. Homosexuals are permitted to contract marriage if both parties have reached the legal marriage age. The legal age for marriage is 18 for both men and women. A waiver is in place for minors to get married in the country. A female aged 13–17 years is allowed to get married in Greenland, and a male aged 14–17 years is allowed to marry. No exceptions are made for same-sex couples. As stated above, the law states who is allowed to get married and who is not. Couples who are related are not permitted by law to marry each other. 

The law does not allow couples who are related by blood, adoption, or marriage to contract marriage. Anyone who has the capacity to marry is allowed to contract marriage. He or she must be in a sound and stable state of mind to be able to get married. Marriage between spouses who are not mentally stable is not permitted in Greenland. Anyone who is in a legally binding marriage is prohibited from entering into a new marriage contract. All couples must be single at the time of marriage; they must either be unmarried, divorced, or widowed. Couples who have been previously married but have been divorced or widowed are required to submit a certified copy of the final decree of divorce or the verified copy of an annulment decree, and in the case of widowhood, a copy of the death certificate of the former spouse. 

Anyone who wishes to be married in Greenland has to submit valid identification documents to the appropriate authorities for verification. There is no residency requirement for foreign couples; however, they must be legally able to contract marriage in their home country to be able to get married in Greenland. The law does not require a blood test from couples in Greenland. To be legally married, couples must obtain a marriage license from the civil registry. Polygyny is not allowed in Greenland; neither the husband nor wife are allowed to marry more than one partner at the same time. Under the laws of marriage, proxy marriages are also against the law; couples have to be physically present on the day of the wedding ceremony.


In Greenland, husband and wife have equal rights as individuals and as a couple. They have access to varieties of rights such as economic rights, the right to own property, the right to inherit, the right to participate in politics, etc. Spouses in Greenland have the right to own property and financial assets. Marriage does not put limitations on the rights of the groom and bride to own property. At the time of marriage, a marital regime of property must be decided upon; it could either be a joint marital regime of property or a separate marital regime of property. 

The couple also has the right to sign a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage, which protects the property and assets of the couple in the event of separation. The husband and wife have the right to participate in politics and government. They have access to exercising their political rights to vote and be voted for. They can run and fill public government offices without any restrictions. The husband and wife also have the right to enjoy certain rights, such as filing a joint tax as one unit rather than separately. 

Legal guardianship rights and joint parental authority are part of the rights that are available to couples over their children in Greenland. The couple has the right to file for divorce at any point during the marriage if it fails. Both the husband and wife have the same right to initiate and finalize divorce, and after divorce has been granted, they still have their legal rights, such as visitation and custody rights over the children. These rights are meant to be properly used, and they cannot be renounced.


A wedding in Greenland is often an amazing experience, and it comes with a considerable cost. To be able to get married in Greenland, couples are required to obtain a marriage license, which costs around 346 DKK, which is approximately $50. After the marriage license has been obtained, couples are permitted to get married and have any type of ceremony they wish. 

An average wedding ceremony in Greenland costs around 50,000 DKK, with the cost of the traditional wedding attire around 20,000 DKK. Couples who do not have the attire can rent it for around 2,000 DKK. The cost of a wedding venue in Greenland is around 6,900 DKK, and it can easily increase depending on the location of the venue.


Couples have joint and separate responsibilities in the home based on their gender roles. Couples have a duty to look out for one another, respect each other, be committed to the marriage, and also respect each other's beliefs and opinions. The husband and wife are obligated to exercise patience with one another in order to ensure harmony in the home. The wife is responsible for the majority of the housework. 

She has a duty to take care of the home, cook, clean, take care of the children, be hospitable to visitors, and take care of her husband. The children in the home should be the utmost priority of the couple, and it is the duty of the couple to provide them with a good moral and educational upbringing. The husband, on the other hand, is responsible for the economic and financial wellbeing of the family. He is obligated to provide for the needs of the family. The husband and wife must work together as one to contribute to the welfare of the family according to their means. The material and nonmaterial needs of the family should be met as often as possible. The couple has a duty to ensure that the family's resources are properly managed.

In Summary 

Both civil and church marriage ceremonies in Greenland are simple and economical. Spouses from other countries are able to perform marriages in Greenland quickly, and same-sex spouses are also allowed to perform legal marriages in the country.

Greenland has various beautiful locations for wedding ceremonies. Greenland is one of the world's easiest countries for binational and LGBT couples to marry in. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Greenland.