Everything you need to know about marriage in Kosovo

10 Jul 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Kosovo 01

Every year, more than 15,000 marriages are performed in Kosovo by Kosovans and other foreign nationals in the country. Kosovo, officially known as the Republic of Kosovo, is a partially recognized state in Southeast Europe. The country is popular for its historical buildings and landscapes. Marriage in Kosovo is a special and important event to the people living in the country, and most times, families plan for several months before reaching a conclusion on the date and ceremonial rites. In every kind of marriage in Kosovo, the family plays an important role. Spouses are required to ask for the blessings of their parents before proceeding with marriage plans, as this is a vital part of the wedding preparations. 

After the bride and groom make a decision to get married, they are required to go to their respective homes to obtain their parents' formal approval before moving ahead with the wedding. There are three major ways in which marriages are performed in Kosovo. People in the country can either get married in a civil, religious, or traditional wedding. The way these marriages are performed is quite different, but only a civil marriage holds legal recognition in Kosovo. Spouses have the freedom to perform any type of marriage they want, but a civil marriage must be performed for such a marriage to be legally binding. 

If a couple only has a religious or traditional marriage, they will not be eligible for the marriage benefits provided by the country's government. Most of the people living in Kosovo are Muslims; however, the country declares itself to be a secular state. This implies that spouses are allowed to practice any religion freely. Since the country is dominated by Muslims, most of the marriage customs and traditions are based on the principles of Islam. As you read on, you will find out more about the types of marriages in Kosovo as well as the laws and rights guiding them. Let’s get started.

Civil marriages 

The constitution of Kosovo declared a civil marriage as the only type of marriage that is legally binding and protected by law. This type of marriage holds legal validity in all parts of the state as well as other countries in the world, and it can be performed by both foreigners and Kosovan nationals. A civil marriage must be performed at the civil registry and officiated by the registrar. To get started with the marriage process, couples must inquire at the municipal registry to know the specific documents they are required to submit. Generally, there are certain documents that must be submitted by both spouses during the marriage registration; however, these documents may involve some additional paperwork depending on the condition of each spouse. 

Foreign spouses can be expected to provide additional documents such as proof of entry into Kosovo as well as a certificate of no impediment to marry. This certificate will prove to the Kosovan authority that such a foreign spouse is permitted to perform a legal marriage in Kosovo and is currently single. The marriage must be between two single partners in the civil registry. Civil marriages in Kosovo cannot be performed online or by proxy, and the spouses are required to be physically present with their witnesses during the ceremony. 

Spouses are urged to ensure the witnesses are people who are responsible to avoid delays or postponement of the marriage registration due to the absence of one or more witnesses. Kosovan nationals who wish to marry in another country may do so at the Kosovo embassy or consulate in that country. This marriage will also be legally recognized in Kosovo. Once the registration is complete, the couple will be registered in the records of marriages, and they will obtain a marriage certificate. The conditions that must be met by both spouses before they are allowed to get married in Kosovo are stated below, as they apply to foreigners and Kosovan nationals.

Marriage Conditions 

  • To marry in Kosovo, both spouses must be at least 18 years old. In special circumstances, a minor below the age of 18 may be allowed to perform a marriage; however, they are required to provide written parental consent. Forced and child marriages are illegal in the country and can attract a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
  • The full consent of both partners must be provided. Marriage can only take place in Kosovo if both parties have a mutual desire to marry.
  • The spouses getting married must not be related to each other. This applies to both biological and adoptive siblings or parents.
  • Spouses must be single at the time of marriage and must be able to prove they have not been married before or have legally terminated previous marriages. Documents to support any of these claims must be provided during the marriage registration.

Documents Required 

  • A valid means of identification. This includes a national identity card or valid passport.
  • Both spouses are required to provide a completed marriage application form.
  • Written parental consent This is required from spouses under the age of 18.
  • Certificate of no impediment to marriage This document must show a foreign national is single and not prohibited from getting married in their home country.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Spouses who were previously married are required to provide either of these documents to show they legally dissolved all previous marriages.
  • Both spouses are required to provide valid witnesses.

Religious marriages 

Religious marriages are widely performed in Kosovo. The country is dominated by Muslims, and most marriages are performed under the religious beliefs of Islam; however, religious marriages hold no legal status in Kosovo. Couples who wish to perform a religious marriage are required to have conducted a civil marriage and obtained a marriage certificate before proceeding. In some cases, the minister of a religion may request the marriage certificate that was obtained from the civil registry before conducting such a marriage in the mosque or church. 

Kosovo's population is split between Muslims and Christians. The majority of the Muslims are Sunni Muslims, with about 95 percent of the total population. Christians make up the rest of the citizens living in the country. Muslim marriages often involve multiple ceremonies, and families play important roles in these marriages. The bride and groom will be required to obtain the consent of their respective families. In Muslim marriages, the husband and wife are bound by the Islamic principles governing the act of marriage in the religion; however, these laws must not contradict or supersede the official marriage laws of Kosovo.

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Marriage traditions in Kosovo

Multiple Days 

In Kosovo, traditional marriages are known to last for multiple days. The night before the wedding, a party is organized for the bride to celebrate her last day as a single woman. The bride often wears colorful traditional attire and is accompanied by her female friends and family in the celebration. This is one of the several ceremonies performed in Kosovan marriages.

Face Painting 

Marriages in Kosovo are known to be vibrant ceremonies, and one of the ceremonial rites is for the face of the bride to be painted. It often includes three golden circles on the slate that are meant to represent the cycles of life. The red and blue dots are symbols of happiness and good health for the bride. Red circles symbolize fertility.

Engagement Ceremony 

This is an important part of marriage in Kosovo. Here, the bride and groom present themselves before their respective families to make formal introductions and also request the approval of their parents before getting married. The groom and his family often present gifts to the bride's family.

Same-sex marriages 

Homosexuality has been legal in Kosovo for a long time. LGBT members rarely face legal challenges, and discrimination against them is constitutionally banned. In fact, it is one of the few Muslim-majority countries in the world where LGBT pride parades are held on an annual basis. The country does not recognize same-sex marriages. However, a spouse may be in a union, but only single homosexuals are allowed to adopt children.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is illegal in Kosovo. As stated in the constitution, marriage is a union between a single man and a single woman. A man is not allowed to marry multiple wives, and vice versa. The number of people who perform this type of marriage in Kosovo is very low, and this type of marriage may only be present in some rural communities.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

In Kosovo, the laws of marriage are straightforward, but couples are required to fulfill their demands for marriage to take place. The family code of Kosovo defines marriage as the coming together of two persons of different sexes who are eligible and decide to live together under the protection of a registered community with the ultimate goal of creating a family. The mention of eligibility in this definition implies that before anyone can get married in Kosovo, he or she must have attained the legal age for marriage. 18 years is the legal age for marriage in Kosovo; however, minors aged 16 years are allowed to get married under special circumstances. Parental permission must be obtained, and in the absence of one, the permission of a legal guardian. The marriage of anyone under the age of 16 is against the law, even if all the requirements are met.

The definition also makes mention of "two persons of different sexes." In other words, the law allows marriage between a man and a woman who are single (unmarried, divorced, or widowed). At the time of marriage, the couple must prove that there is no legal impediment to marriage. Neither the husband nor the wife is permitted to practice bigamy; they must not be in any existing relationship while trying to enter into a new marriage agreement. Any previous marriage must have legally ceased to exist before a new marriage is entered into. If any of the prospective spouses has previously been married but the marriage was dissolved by divorce or the death of one of the spouses, the concerned couple must submit a decree absolute of divorce and, in the case of widowhood, the certificate of death of the deceased spouse. 

Spouses must be willing to marry out of their own free will; the law does not allow the marriage of anyone who has been forced, threatened, or coerced into marriage. Both the husband and wife must give clear, verbal or nonverbal consent to marriage before it can take place. Neither spouse must be related to the other. Couples are not allowed to marry anyone to whom they are directly related by blood or indirectly related through alliance in marriage, affinity, or adoption. Mixed marriages between a foreigner and a citizen of Kosovo are legal. However, the foreigner must be eligible for marriage in his or her home country, and he or she must be able to prove that there is no legal impediment to marriage by submitting a certificate attesting to such to the appropriate authorities.

Rights

Couples in Kosovo are entitled to fundamental rights, not only because of marriage but also because they are citizens of the country. Once marriage is contracted, the husband and wife have the right to own property. However, they have to decide which marital regime of property will be in effect throughout the duration of the marriage. Under the joint marital regime of property, the property of the husband and wife obtained during marriage belongs to the husband and wife.

They have the right to use, own, and discard as they wish. The separate marital regime of property can also be in effect; however, it would only apply to properties acquired before or during marriage through inheritance, donations, or the intellectual work of one of the spouses. Under this regime, the husband and wife have no property rights. Any assets (land and non-land) belong to the spouse who legally owns them, and they do not become joint property during marriage. In marriage, the husband and wife have the same right to inherit properties, estates, land, non-land assets, etc. 

At the demise of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit all properties without any form of restriction. During the course of a marriage, if it is perceived that the marriage is not working, the husband and wife have the right to file for divorce. The law grants the wife the same right as the husband to initiate divorce. After divorce, the couple still has the right to custody of the children, and they enjoy visitation rights as well.

Costs

Weddings in Kosovo often consist of grand celebrations with a lot of guests in attendance, which signify that wedding ceremonies are a big affair in Kosovo. The average cost of a wedding in Kosovo often ranges from around €3,000 to as much as €20,000. This cost is determined by the financial ability of the couple, the size of the wedding, and what the couple hopes to achieve.

This cost covers the wedding reception, food and drinks for at least 50 people, music and entertainment, wedding planners, photography and videography at the event, and so on. Couples would be required to pay certain fees to obtain a marriage license, after which they would be able to get married. The required fees must be paid to obtain a marriage certificate.

Duties

The husband and wife in an average Kosovo family have various duties and responsibilities to perform in the home right from the inception of marriage to the dissolution of marriage, and even after the dissolution of marriage, their duties continue. The husband and wife have a duty to one another; they are obligated to love one another, care for one another, and protect one another from any harm that might come to them. They are obligated to be faithful and committed to the marriage. 

Loyalty to one another should be the responsibility of both the husband and wife. They have a duty to ensure that the family is well taken care of by jointly contributing to the welfare and wellbeing of the family. Couples have a responsibility to provide for the needs of their children, including both material and nonmaterial needs. Even after a divorce, both parents must continue to fulfill their parental responsibilities to their children. Provision of child support, regular visitation, etc. are all part of the duties of the couple. The husband and wife have the right to decide the moral inclination of the family.

In Summary 

Getting married in Kosovo is straightforward. Both foreign and Kosovan spouses are allowed to perform any type of marriage ceremony they want. But to ensure the legal recognition of married spouses, a civil marriage must be

Kosovo requires that the marriage registry used for the civil ceremony be the one in the municipality where either or both spouses reside. Traditional marriages are often big events that involve various marriage rituals. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Kosovo.

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