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Marriage

Marriage

General marriage ceremony information

A marriage ceremony that is performed at a local register office can be officiated by the head of the local register office, a district registrar or a public notary.

An investigation into the possible impediments to marriage is carried out before the ceremony. More information on the impediment investigation process. The impediment investigation certificate must be submitted to the officiator before the marriage ceremony is to take place. At the marriage ceremony, both persons who are to be married must confirm their identity with a valid form of identification (passport, EU citizen’s identification card or a driver’s licence that has been issued in Finland after 1 October 1990). In addition, the couple must declare which surnames each individual will take.

The marriage ceremony is short, but it can include live music or poetry readings, for example. At least two witnesses who are at least 15 years old must be present at the ceremony.

Officiating a marriage ceremony at a local register office during office hours is free of charge. To reserve a time for a marriage ceremony, contact the local register office where the marriage ceremony is to take place by phone or email or use the office's online reservation system, if such an option is available.

Civil marriages are also performed at district courts throughout Finland.

Marriage comes with various legal effects.

More information on the Marriage Act.

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Marriage during office hours at the officiator’s premises

If you want to get married at the officiator’s premises during office hours, you can reserve a time directly from your local register office. No fee is charged for marriage ceremonies that are officiated at the officiator's premises during office hours.

Both persons who are to be married during the marriage ceremony must present valid identification (e.g. a passport or identification card), submit a certificate stating that the investigation of the impediments to marriage has been conducted, and have two witnesses who are at least 15 years old. If the couple cannot find the necessary number of witnesses for the marriage ceremony, they can ask the officiator to find the necessary number of witnesses.

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Marriage during weekends and outside the local register office

If you are planning to get married outside office hours and would like to have a civil officiator present, you must discuss the matter personally with the officiator. You should reserve a time for the marriage ceremony well in advance before the ceremony is to take place.

Officiating a marriage outside office hours is subject to a fee and the officiator may also charge you for any possible travel fees.

For more information, contact your local register office.

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Marriage ceremony script

“The purpose of marriage is the establishment of a family for the common good of its members and the preservation of society. Marriage is intended to be permanent so as to allow the family members to establish a happy home together.”

“Before these witnesses I ask you [person’s name]: Will you take [person’s name] to be your spouse, to love, for better or for worse?” 
(Response: I will.) “Before these witnesses I ask you [person’s name]: Will you take [person’s name] to be your spouse, to love, for better or for worse?” (Response: I will.) “As you have both answered the question in the affirmative, I now pronounce you spouses.”

“Take the ring from your spouse as a sign of your union.” (This sentence is omitted if no ring is to be given.) ”You are now joined together in marriage. As spouses you are equal. Show love and mutual trust for each other in marriage and act together for the good of the family.”

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The surnames of the spouses when people get married


When do the spouses have to indicate their choice of surname?

Those getting married must indicate their choice of surname to the party examining the impediments to the marriage when they request such an examination. An examination of the impediments to a marriage is requested on a form designed for the purpose, on which there is also a section for the choice of surname. The form can be found on the Local Register Office website at maistraatti.fi. Both spouses will keep the surname they had at the time of their marriage if the parties fail to indicate their choice of surname to the party examining the impediments to the marriage.

It should be noted that the spouses may not change their choice of surname following the examination of the impediments to the marriage. If, following the examination, the spouses have second thoughts about their choice of surname, they can tell the officiator. However, in such a case they will keep the surname they had when they got married.

 

A surname from a previous marriage cannot be transferred to a new spouse.

A surname from a previous marriage cannot be transferred to a new spouse as a surname or one name in a double-barrelled surname name. Nor may a double-barrelled surname from a previous marriage be transferred to a new spouse.

 

The legal options

When getting married, the spouses have four options.

1. Both spouses keep the surname they had when they got married

2. They may agree to use a common surname or double-barrelled surname. For a double-barrelled name to be regarded as a common surname, the two names must be in the same order for both spouses, and the use of the hyphen must be agreed. See also the section hereinafter: ‘The implication for children of common surnames or double-barrelled surnames’.

3. The spouses may agree that one of them adopts a double-barrelled surname, which is not common to both, from their own surname or from one of the names in their double-barrelled surname, and from their spouse’s surname or or from one of the names in their spouse’s double-barrelled surname. Both spouses may independently exercise their right to adopt a double-barrelled surname. It does not depend on whether both spouses adopt a double-barrelled surname or in which order the names in the spouse’s double-barrelled surname appear. A surname transferring to the other spouse must, however, also be kept by the spouse the name is transferring from. The use of a hyphen is a personal choice.

4. The spouses may agree that one of them takes one of the surnames in their spouse’s double-barrelled surname as their own surname.

 

After you have been married, your name change will be registered in the Population Information System.

If you change your surname, all state and municipal authorities will be informed about the change in your surname automatically. Once Kela has been informed about the change in your surname, you will be automatically issued a new Kela card. Most banks, insurance companies and retail chains update their customer registers with the help of the Population Information System. You must renew your identification card, driver's licence and/or passport within three months after your name has been changed (see the section below).

How to proceed after my name has been changed

If your domicile is located abroad:

The Names Act applies to you only if you have a place of residence in Finland when you are to be married. If you do not have a place of residence in Finland, your surname is determined in accordance with the surname legislation of your country of residence. If you plan on changing your surname when you get married, you must present an account of the surname legislation of your country of residence before the marriage ceremony is to take place. If you do not present this account and the local register office does not know the pertinent foreign surname legislation, the common surname that you have selected cannot be registered in the Population Information System on the basis of your marriage.

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