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Marriage and divorce

(KEYSTONE/STEFFEN SCHMIDT)

Switzerland recognises marriages through the civil registry office. Both bride and groom must be at least 18.

Same-sex couples cannot get married in Switzerland. However, they may enter into a civil partnership. This grants them the same pension, inheritance and tax rights and obligations as married couples, but not the right to adopt (although they can adopt stepchildren). Same-sex marriages concluded abroad are recognised in Switzerland as a civil partnership.

Couples without Swiss citizenship living in Switzerland must prove they are in the country legally to get permission to marry. The local registrar will review the necessary documents and application and confirm in writing whether the marriage can proceed.

The ceremony can take place as early as ten days after the permission is received and no later than three months from that date. Two adult witnesses must be present. A heterosexual marriage or civil partnership that has been legally celebrated abroad will generally be recognised in Switzerland.

marriage animation

Marriage animation

For a fact sheet on marriage and civil partnership in Switzerland – and a list of registry offices – visit this government websiteexternal link

The fee for a civil ceremony is between CHF300 ($300) and CHF400 all over Switzerland. There may be additional costs in the case of special requests, for example a Saturday ceremony or ceremony outside the register office venue. 

You may also get married in a church, but only after the civil ceremony. For information, contact the church office of your place of residence. Many Swiss have both a civil and a religious ceremony. 

Answers to many other questions about marriage in Switzerland, such as changing your name and the financial and legal consequences of marriage, can be found hereexternal link.

Since the mid-1980s there has been a rise in the number of marriages in which at least one of the spouses is foreign. In 2017external link, this concerned more than half (52%) of all marriages. If you are a non-Swiss planning on marrying a Swiss (or a non-Swiss in Switzerland), this is what you need to knowexternal link. If you are a non-Swiss planning a civil partnership, read thisexternal link

There are numerous wedding planning services that can help foreigners arrange destination weddings in Switzerland.

I don’t 

Not all marriages work out, however. Indeed 16,200 divorces were registered in 2018 (compared with 39,800 unions). 

Deciding who gets what can often be messy, especially when children are involved, if one partner is not Swiss, and if the couple involved isn’t married. 

If you want to try to patch things up, binational.chexternal link has a wealth of information in English including on counselling and mediation. The Swiss Association for Mediationexternal link can provide addresses for mediators who can help you prepare a separation agreement or divorce decree. 

Binational.ch also has facts and links on marriage, separation and divorce, the legal effect of divorce, money, custody of children, support payments – and many other topics of interest to binational and intercultural families in Switzerland. 

This government websiteexternal link has information on what needs to be done in the case of divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.

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