Ondertrouw aka “intent to marry”

In order to get married in the Netherlands, one person from the intended union has to be a Dutch citizen or permanent resident. Sorry, no vacation weddings here! Also, there is a minimum 2 week waiting period before you can legally get married. The countdown starts when you submit the “ondertrouw” which loosely translates to notice of marriage which expresses your desire to marry. ” In New York, the only thing you need is your ID and your intended spouse and you can get married. Perhaps they should make it harder so they don’t have situations like Britney Spear’s 55 hour marriage.

If you are non-Dutch, the paperwork can be quite complicated and should be prepared BEFORE you leave. Once you obtain all the documents, I recommend that you leave the rest to your Dutch partner as there isn’t much you can do with limited Dutch fluency. There are links below that may help him/her (and when in doubt, check with the gemeente).

What kind of documents do I need?

  • Passport
  • Birth certificate with Apostille (obtained within past 6 months)
  • Certificate of Non-Impediment – Letter from your own country stating that you are not currently married, and if you were married before, a copy of your divorce papers too, with Apostille (obtained within past 6 months)

Any foreign document that is presented to the Dutch authorities has to have an apostille and must be in English or Dutch. Otherwise, they need to be translated by a certified translator.

What is an Apostille?

When a document is to be used in a foreign country, it may be necessary to have the document authenticated. An authentication certifies the signature and the capacity of the official who has executed the document. The authentication may also authenticate the seal of the official. – NYS Division of State Records

Only the country issuing the document can provide an Apostille for that document. Unfortunately for me, my birth certificate was not from the US and I had to enlist the help of a law firm to obtain a new copy of my birth certificate and the apostille.

If your documents are issued from New York City, then it has to first be certified by a county clerk before the state can provide an Apostille.

Check out these links for more information:

  • http://www.dos.ny.gov/corps/apostille.html
  • http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/vr.shtml
  • http://www.cityclerk.nyc.gov/html/marriage/county-clerk.shtml

What if my documents aren’t in English or Dutch?

I recommend having these translated in the Netherlands as the Dutch government has specific rules about certification. If that is not possible, I recommend reaching out to the Dutch Embassy in your country and asking for advice on where to find a certified translator.

How do I get this Certificate of Non-Impediment?

In the US, marriage is governed by the state and therefore, I recommend that you call your city hall to find out more. For those from NYC, they have clear instructions here:


NYers ONLY: If you plan to do everything in person, allocate at least a half-day as there is a lot of waiting and walking between buildings. 

Cool Fact: The Netherlands was one the first countries to legalize same-sex marriage. – Wikipedia

Useful links:

  • http://www.amsterdam.nl/burgerzaken/trouwen-partnerschap/
  • http://www.denhaag.nl/home/bewoners/to/Ondertrouw.htm
  • http://www.rotterdam.nl/product:ondertrouw

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