If a married couple are living separated in two different countries, which is neither the country where either person has citizenship, nor the country where they got married, would there be any benefit of registring a marriage in their countries of residency and/or their countries of citizenship?

Specifically, if a Dutch and a French person got married in Sweden, and now work on independent visas in Canada and the USA, should they register their marriage anywhere beyond Sweden? What would be the benefit in doing so?

2 Answers 2


First of all, this is a local law question. To illustrate why, let's look at two different places, namely the United States and Indonesia. The US follows common law in the Anglo-French tradition, except Louisiana which adopted civil law and the Napoleonic Code. Marriage is a state law issue in the US and there is little Federal involvement in that issue.

In Indonesia, marriage is primarily a religious issue, and the federal government basically rubber stamps religious determinations on who is married, but civil law actions are required for divorce (and Indonesia follows, roughly Dutch/Roman civil law in this regard, with some influence from India). Being married or being separated in both cases is very different thing, because there are questions of whether joint assets exist or how they are divided, and the two countries may have different opinions on that.

The processes for handling these questions are different in both countries (and even between some states in the US!). So you want to check with local lawyers in both places. Before you do, however, make sure you are prepared to talk about the following things:

  1. What you mean by living separately. Is this a legal arrangement regarding assets, possibly preceding a divorce? Or is it a practical temporary arrangement preceding moving back together? This may have profound implications regarding needing to register, tax status, etc.

  2. If it is a legal arrangement, what are the details that have been agreed upon? Are there legal implications there?

These thins depend on specifics and local laws, and so local lawyers are the ones to ask.


You should check local laws. Some countries require that their citizens/residents update the authorities about such changes. US doesn't care, unless you're interested in immigration benefits (spousal visa, etc), and if you are - just bring the marriage certificate to the consulate.

  • The marriage certificate, however, can be issued only where the parties got married, right ? Mar 15, 2014 at 6:43
  • @happybuddha I would assume so, who else can certify that they're married?
    – littleadv
    Mar 15, 2014 at 6:45
  • I dont know, thats why the question. Last I heard from a (Muslim)friend - registering a marriage is separate than a marriage certificate. A marriage cert. can be issued by any religious body in any country to which it can be proven that the parties involved were married by their religion in another country. Mar 15, 2014 at 6:49
  • @happybuddha I don't believe its true. Maybe for religious purposes, but for government purposes only the government that has jurisdiction where the marriage has been performed can certify to that. In the US, for example, you can only get the marriage certificate from the county where the marriage was recorded. Not even a State, not to mention the Federal level. Many countries also require foreign certifications to be apostilled.
    – littleadv
    Mar 15, 2014 at 6:52

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