How to get married as a foreigner in Moscow

Getting married in Moscow

So you've decided to take the plunge and marry that 21 year old Russian bride from the internet, good for you. Once you've confirmed that she is indeed a she and not a 55-year-old Russian trucker, you’ll probably want to know how you can make an honest woman out of her.

Seeing how I got married in 2014, I thought I’d share my experience with you. The basic steps are as follows (this was what I needed to do as a UK citizen, but the process is basically the same for all countries).


This is what you need to do before you can breeze on down to ZAGS (ZAGS is where people get married in Russia, it’s basically a registry office).

documents for getting married in Russia

1) If you are outside of Russia, you’ll need to get here first: if you’re American, grab a tourist visa (that lasts 3 years), if you are from the UK, try a 3-month business visa. You can find out about visas here. Get your vacation planned ahead of time.

2) When on the ground, you will need to visit your consulate, swear an oath, fill out a basic form and apply for a magical piece of paper called a certificate of no impediment (CNI). This paper basically confirms that you are eligible to marry – no current wife, not a rampant sex offender etc etc.

3) Once you have applied, you will need to wait up to 25 days during which you have to remain in the country. (British embassy says the following: “To complete a Notice of Marriage applicants must reside in the consular district where the notice of the proposed marriage is to be given at least 21 clear days before giving notice. If a British National has a residency permit, issued by the local authorities then he does not need to physically remain in the consular district for the required period. If he does not hold a residency permit then he must be physically present for the full 21 days after his last arrival in Russia.”).

NOTEsome embassies will require extra documents to issue the Certificate. For example, a French embassy requires a Birth Certificate of your future spouse and a testimony of the future spouse saying he/she sincerely wants to marry. All documents need to be translated in French and apostilled.

4) Once your CNI is ready, you have to collect it then get it translated. This is done in any Russian translation/notarization place or the consulate itself. The cert is valid for 3 months from date of issue.

CNI for getting married in Russia
The CNI kind of looks like this

5) Next you need to get the translated CNI legalized. You do this at the Legalisation Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in person, at I was recently told by a reader that the place to do the CNI is now: Shipilovskiy Proyezd, 27, Moskva, 115569. This costs about 350 rubles and you can collect the legalised document in a couple of days. They have weird working hours and a super long lunch though, so keep that in mind and check times in advance.

Once you've done that, you are ready for stage two – the wedding. The above might seem overwhelming to some, but in reality, it’s all very straightforward.


1) You can only get married as a foreign couple at ZAGS number 4 which is located at 17 Butyrsky Ulitsa.

2) Before you can marry, you need to go there to set your wedding date and have all your documents checked. You'll need your passport photo page translated and notarised. Make sure your future wife takes copies of all her documents too (this will be her internal passport with her propiska

The wedding date is usually set for a couple of weeks, but if for some reason, you need a quicker wedding date (for example she’s pregnant) it can easily be arranged. In my case, the wife actually needed to show a spravka saying she’s pregnant).

This is where the marriage happens (although Zags 4 is a bit less jazzy)

3) You get married and get a cool-looking marriage certificate.


If your goal is to bring your new, official wife back to your home country, I'm not sure just how much good the Russian marriage cert will be. I imagine a piece of toilet paper would hold more sway with the UK government, but I can’t say for sure. Getting married in Russia will make it fairly easy to get Russian residence though (and even easier if you have a kid!).

Let me know your marriage experiences (or questions) in the comment section, or alternatively if any of you have experience with getting a bride back to your home country and fancy doing a blog post about it, drop me a line at

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Keith Ruffles on January 14, 2016 at 11:41 PM said...

Out of curiosity, were you able to pick a date for the wedding or was this dictated by ZAGS?

Lt. Columbo on January 19, 2016 at 2:25 PM said...

Hi Keith, yes we were able to pick an earlier date because the wife was preg, but, when my friend was getting married, he just asked for an earlier date and it was fine

Unknown on January 27, 2016 at 6:41 PM said...

Thank for this tips! I met my bride 6 months ago on katedating and i will get married in April. That's why this information is very important for me. I think procedure in Ukraine and Russia are pretty similar, am i right ?

Lt. Columbo on February 10, 2016 at 8:46 PM said...

I'd imagine the process was probably similar and not too complicated

David on June 13, 2016 at 7:33 PM said...

I guess I was misinformed, for the US all the information seems to state that I don't need to be in Russia for 25 days. According to everything my fiancee can do everything without me as long as she has the documents needed, including an apostilled certificate of no impediment from the US.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Done I get a CNI from Russia or in the UK before I fly out? It all seems so darn complicated! :(

Lt. Columbo on September 2, 2016 at 8:43 PM said...

the embassy applied for me, although in your case, perhaps you can apply. i'd call the consulate and confirm tho

Unknown on January 19, 2017 at 1:26 AM said...

What documents are required for Pakistani nationals to get marry in Russia .
I'm a Pakistani national and my girlfriend it Russian , we are hoping to marry in April, please do let me know what documents shall I submit ?

Lt. Columbo on January 19, 2017 at 7:23 PM said...

For Pakistan i don't know im afraid - best give the embassy a call and get the info from the source :)

Unknown on November 29, 2017 at 4:49 AM said...

What if it's opposite. I'm the American bride he is the Russian and I'm not going back to America. We are staying here getting pregnant and resuming life.

Lt. Columbo on December 19, 2017 at 2:01 PM said...

IT's easy to get married in Russia, enjoy yourself and married life in Moscow :)

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