Any U.S. citizen or resident who is planning to get married in another country almost certainly will be asked to provide a document called a single-status affidavit. This document confirms that the holder has never been married, or that any previous marriages have been legally terminated, such that the person is free to marry someone else. Getting a single-status affidavit is relatively simple, but there are various steps required to formalize the affidavit before it can be used to get a marriage license.
What Is a Single-Status Affidavit?
A single-status affidavit does exactly what the name implies – it confirms that the holder has never been married, or that any previous marriages were legally ended by death or divorce. Anyone who is planning to get married abroad will be asked to provide this document as proof that he is free to marry. It’s also known as a “No Record of Marriage,” “Certificate of Freedom to Marry” or “Affidavit of Marriageability.”
Marriage annulment works the same way. If a marriage has been annulled, it means the court has declared the marriage null and void, meaning that no legal marriage ever existed between the two partners. In this scenario, it's possible to swear a single-status affidavit declaring that the the person is single and has never been married since, in the eye of law, they have never been married. It's sensible to attach the decree of annulment to the affidavit to make the position clear.
Where to Get an Affidavit Form
There are four options:
- The country where the marriage will take place may have its own required affidavit form (check with the wedding coordinator).
- The local County Clerk’s office can usually provide a blank affidavit form.
- For citizens based outside the U.S., the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate should be able to assist with creating the affidavit.
- You can write one from scratch.
The latter is not as difficult as it sounds since templates or model form of affidavit are readily available online, such as that available on the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority website.
Completing the Affidavit
Single-status affidavits are short, half-page documents that are really simple to fill out with some basic personal information. Depending on local rules, the affidavit must bear the holder’s:
- Legal name.
- Passport number.
- Birth date and place.
- Date of previous marriages.
- Date that previous marriages ended by death or divorce.
- Name of the other partner in the upcoming marriage and her country of residence.
While not essential, it’s a good idea to attach a copy of any final divorce decree to the affidavit to avoid any last minute problems.
Sign Before a Notary
Affidavits must be signed in the presence of a notary public. The notary will verify the signer’s identity with a valid form of identification. She will then witness the signature and stamp and sign the document. Notarization is proof that the person swearing the affidavit is who he says he is and understands what he is signing.
Organizing an Apostille
The final stage of the process is to organize an apostille. It’s important not to confuse this with getting the affidavit notarized, as they are two different things. An apostille is a specialized certificate which confirms that the affidavit is authentic. Anyone who plans to get married in one of the 117 countries that’s a member of the Hague Apostille Convention needs an apostille, so the affidavit will be accepted in the foreign country.
Each state has its own apostille service and the apostille must come from the state that issued the affidavit of single status – an affidavit from Los Angeles can receive an apostille only from the State of California, for example. Details can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
State apostilles are usually available as a walk-in service or by sending the affidavit to the appropriate office in the mail. The apostille office needs to know the name of the country where the document will be recorded, and there will be a small fee payable for this service in the region of $15-$20.
Take Care with Timing
While it is good to be organized, some countries will accept only a recent single-status affidavit, meaning one that has been issued in the past 30 to 90 days. Check with the country requesting the affidavit on how old this document can be and consider obtaining the affidavit as one of the final items of the wedding planning to-do list.
- National Apostille: Apostille a Single Status Affidavit
- Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority: General Apostille Information
- National Apostille: Hague Apostille Convention Countries
- Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority: Affidavit of Single Status
- Texas Secretary of State: Apostilles/Authentication of Documents