Sorry if this isn’t particularly useful to you, but since I’m in the middle of the process, I thought I’d share my experience navigating the mildly complicated process of getting married in Russia. For a more official guide, check out the US Embassy’s page on getting married to a Russian citizen. Ff you’re planning to get married outside of Moscow, this might be mildly more helpful. Oh, and God save your soul.
This is part 1 of a several part series where I’ll share my experience of getting married in Russia. I hope for your sake that you can avoid this because, damn, it’s kind of a pain. A multi-step process has to be finished and be done within three months of the date on your first documents. Thankfully I’ve already found that some things can be smooshed together to minimize your hassle. Part 1 can definitely be done in an afternoon, barring any outrageous waits in the Embassy or any giant traffic jams.
1. Fill out a свидетельство(svidetelstvo)
The свидетельство (certificate) for getting married in Russia certifies that you’ve never been married or are officially able to be married if you were before. (If you’ve never been married you don’t need any other documents, but if you’ve been married before you’ll need whatever documents you have to prove that you’re no longer married.) Fill out EVERYTHING on this form in Russian.
The form can be found on the Embassy’s website.
2. Notarize your svidetelstvo
Make an appointment at the US Embassy (again, on the website) to have them make it all official. Try to avoid going on a really rainy day as the Embassy (Bolshoy Devyatinskiy Pereulok 8) is a 3-4 minute walk from metro Barrikadnaya and fairly unpleasant if it’s rainy or really cold.
Avoid the long line of Russians and head to the super-special American citizen entrance where they’ll check your passport and appointment paper. Go in, wait, and be super pleasant: most of the people working there are American and therefore respond well to pleasantries. The process will take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how long you have to wait to talk to someone) and cost $50.
3. Grab the trolley bus three stops
Your next destination is 1st Neopalimovskiy pereulok, 12a. There are a few buses you can hop on. Or, if you’re too impatient to wait 15-17 minutes, flag down a car heading your way who will probably drop you off down the street free of charge. Sometimes Russia’s hitchhiking culture pays off.
4. Go to the Department of Legalization (part 1)
Once you’ve found your way to the unimpressive building, head in. Don’t bother asking the security guard if this is the right place, he’ll say he has no idea. It’s right. Once you go in ignore all of the clerks to your right. Go straight forward and wait in line at the small door (“Department of Legalization”). Inside is a small room with just one guy and his desk. Tell him what you want and hand him all of your documents. He’ll give you a check.
5. Pay at the SberBank
Because nothing can be too easy here, you won’t be able to pay the 200 ruble notarization fee in the same building. Instead you’ll head over to the nearest SberBank (only a few minutes away), wait in another line, and then pay your fee.
6. Go to the Department of Legalization (part 2)
Head back and hand over your receipt to the same guy you saw a few minutes ago. He’ll give you a receipt for the notarization where he will also write which day you can go and pick up the document.
7. Wait 5 days
Yes, in Russia one little stamp takes five business days to complete. There is no expedited process so you just have to sit back and relax for a few days before you can even think about doing anything else. Go have a beer (or some Dunkin Donuts on Arbat Street as I might have done). You deserve it.
Ugh. Well after typing all that out, it actually seems like quite a feat, doesn’t it? Well, there’s only several more parts to go… Any of you have any particularly torturous processes to go through as an expat?