Algarve wedding legal requirements

Everything you need to know to get married in the Algarve

Here we detail all of the Algarve wedding legal requirements. The Algarve, in the south of Portugal, is an ideal place to hold a wedding for many reasons: the romantic scenery of white-washed towns and villages, old chapels perched atop cliffs with incredible views, mountains, golden beaches and blue seas, the abundance of top quality venues, the finest catering services, luxury accommodation and of course, spectacular weather. The Algarve has all the ingredients to make your wedding an unforgettable event, which you will remember forever! Whether you are planning an intimate wedding or a large lavish celebration, your special day will be even more special in the Algarve.

If you have opted to marry in the Algarve, we congratulate you, because you couldn't have chosen better! However, before you start sending your wedding invitations, you need to consider the type of wedding you want and also take into account some legal requirements and read the Portuguese regulations carefully. To make it easier for you, we have outlined below the legal requirements for getting married here. This is a heavy read, so any questions or clarification, just call or email us.



  • You may only be married in the Algarve according to Portuguese law. This means that, if you marry in Portugal, you won’t be able to marry at an embassy or consulate by a consular from your country, nor under the law of your own country.
  • The minimum age to get married in Portugal is 16. However, written consent of both parents is required for those aged under 18.
  • Currently, there is no legal residency requirement for a wedding in Portugal.
  • You have two options here, either a Civil or Catholic wedding. Both are legally recognised and legally binding. Religious ceremonies for all other churches and faiths must be preceded by a civil ceremony and the marriage certificate should be made available.
  • Same-sex civil weddings are permitted with the same provisions.
  • The ceremony, Civil or Catholic, will be conducted in Portuguese. It's not a legal requirement to have a translator, but if neither of you speak Portuguese you can arrange for an interpreter to be present throughout the ceremony.
  • When getting married in Portugal, the wife doesn’t necessarily have to adopt the surname of the husband, although she can if she so chooses. Even so, the wife will still keep one of her original surnames as well as the new one. Children in Portugal usually have their mother’s surname first and their father’s second.



Matrimonial Regimes in Portugal

There are four types of matrimonial regime in Portugal (regime de bens).

The default regime is 'marriage in community of estate' (Comunhão geral). Pre-nuptial agreements can also be drawn up to alter this in any way.

  1. Community of property (Comunhão geral): All property brought to the marriage and acquired during the marriage is communal. This marital regime cannot be chosen if one or both of the marrying parties already has children.
  2. "Acquired" community of property (Comunhão de adquiridos): only goods and property acquired after the marriage are communal.
  3. Out of community of property (Separação geral de bens): The law imposes this marital regime if one or both of the couple is aged 60 or more.
  4. Other: Portuguese law allows couples to choose their own marital regime, or combine certain characteristics of the three above.

More information here (in Portuguese)



Citizenship

Foreign citizens do not acquire Portuguese nationality when marrying a Portuguese citizen. However they may apply for Portuguese citizenship after three years of marriage.



Paperwork

All documentation must be original and endorsed with an Apostille (an Apostille is a certificate that authenticates documents executed outside of Portugal, such as a birth certificate, so that it will be recognised as genuine for use in other countries. This is usually done by a notary). Any documentation that is not in Portuguese must be accompanied by official translations, translated by an agency verified by the Portuguese Consulate. 

You and your partner will need:

  • Newly issued full length birth certificates (must show the name of your parents) dated within 6 months of your wedding date
  • Passports for Bride and Groom (expiry date must be more than 6 months after your wedding). If one of you lives in Portugal, the residents card is enough.
  • If this is not your first marriage, a divorce decree or a death certificate to prove termination of previous marriage(s), must be provided. Again, these documents must have been issued within the last six months. If you have been divorced from a wedding in the Catholic church and your marriage was not officially annulled, you cannot marry in the Catholic church in Portugal.

These are the general documents required for getting married in the Algarve, but according to your nationality or country of origin, further documentation may be needed. If you are seriously considering holding your wedding in the Algarve, please contact us to discuss your individual requirements. Please be aware that a fee usually accompanies some of these documentation requirements.



Civil Wedding

The ceremony for a civil wedding can take place at the registry office (Camara) or at a location of your choice. It doesn’t need to be a location licensed for weddings, as there is no such license in Portugal. Hotels, restaurants, quintas or holiday apartments are some options; beach weddings are also possible, but an additional license from the maritime police is required. Also, the ceremony will always be performed by a celebrant from the Camara to be legally binding, so if you wish to have the civil wedding outside of the registry office it needs to performed by a celebrant from the Camara as well. This needs to be arranged well in advance. 

You can also legally marry at the registry office (either in Portugal or your home country) and then hold a symbolic ceremony that suits your tastes better in your chosen venue.



Catholic Wedding

For a Catholic wedding, you will need to get in touch with the local priest in the Algarve in advance of your wedding to make the necessary arrangements. Once you receive approval, your wedding has to take place within three months.

The required extra documents must be translated in Portuguese and must have been sealed or stamped by your Bishop's parish office, not just the local priest. These documents are:

  • A formal letter from your parish priest granting permission for the wedding to be performed in your chosen Portuguese church and a letter from the Bishop of the parish stating the same.
  • The same formal letter must state that you have fulfilled all PRE CANA procedures and should include some mandatory certificates. This letter must then be sent to the Portuguese Diocese.
  • The Original prenuptial inquiry form has to be issued by your parish and be on formal church letterhead of your Parish.
  • All certificates of baptism, first communion and confirmation must be sent together with the Prenuptial inquiry form and letters.
  • If one of you is not Catholic, you will be required to obtain another document such as "Permission of mixed religions" to testify that the wedding celebration can be performed by the Portuguese Church. You can get this from your local priest.



and finally...

Our Legal Document Checking Team will check and confirm that your documents are in order before you post them to Portugal via courier, however it is the couple's responsibility to ensure that you have all of the correct paperwork on time. It's imperative to do your homework and verify all information you provide in the official documentation is correct and make sure it is fully up to date. Our wedding packages do not include any legal documentation costs or courier fees.

 To conclude, many couples choose to legally marry in their own country and have a blessing performed in the Algarve. This means that all of the paperwork is done in the country of origin, where the legislation is more familiar to them and the procedures maybe faster. After getting legally married in their home country, the big event takes place here in the Algarve. Consider if this option best suits your needs.

Whatever you decide, we are here to plan and organise your wedding, and answer all of your questions, so everything goes smoothly with all the hassle removed. So do not worry! We will make everything simple.

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