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katya
01-10-2013, 17:56
Hello,
This is a question for US citizens intending to marry a Russian.

No where on the US Consulate site does it state the exact name of the document, the cost, or the processing time for the "you are free to marry" document. I for example have never been married or divorced and I have to obtain a document (no idea what to call it) proving that I have not been married or divorced. The Consular site refers to it vaguely. ZAGS will not create this as it has to come from your country of origin.

Does anyone here have experience obtaining it: cost, turnaround time, what *do* they call it?

I have written the Consulate but their "overbusy" load states that they will only reply within 2 business days and I need a faster answer than that.

thanks in advance.

xp@
01-10-2013, 20:48
Full info here: http://moscow.usembassy.gov/marriage.html - costs $50.

Make an appointment online here: http://moscow.usembassy.gov/acs-appointment.html

They give you the letter immediately. Then you take it to a special office of the Russian Foreign Ministry to be 'legalized' - that takes one week.

katya
01-10-2013, 21:18
Eh, I am located in Saint Petersburg... I understood you can do this there.

Also separate question, they say that the translation and notarization of the passport must be legalized by MID RF. i already have the translation and notarization...I presume I can go to the local MID in Saint Petersburg for the legalization by MID, no?

katya
01-10-2013, 21:44
Also, there is this note:

От легализации брачные документы освобождаются Минской конвенцией, а также двусторонними договорами о правовой помощи. А Гаагская конвенция, которая отменяет требование легализации, включает упрощенную форму удостоверения для стран-участниц постановку апостиля. Поэтому необходимо обратить внимание на то, родом из какой страны иностранный жених. Если его страна входит в перечь государств, которые участвовали в Гаагской и Минской конвенциях и подписали надлежащее правовое соглашение, в этом случае легализация документов может и не потребоваться.

Both the USA and Russia are parties to the Hague convention in particular regarding legalization of documents which therefore implies that the MID certification is NOT necessary... this is as of 1961. So why then would it be required if the doc is translated and notarized?

robertmf
01-10-2013, 22:24
Full info here: http://moscow.usembassy.gov/marriage.html - costs $50.

Make an appointment online here: http://moscow.usembassy.gov/acs-appointment.html

They give you the letter immediately. Then you take it to a special office of the Russian Foreign Ministry to be 'legalized' - that takes one week.

Maybe. Maybe not. US government went into shutdown, so not all services are available.

tonytony
01-10-2013, 23:09
Also, there is this note:

От легализации брачные документы освобождаются Минской конвенцией, а также двусторонними договорами о правовой помощи. А Гаагская конвенция, которая отменяет требование легализации, включает упрощенную форму удостоверения для стран-участниц постановку апостиля. Поэтому необходимо обратить внимание на то, родом из какой страны иностранный жених. Если его страна входит в перечь государств, которые участвовали в Гаагской и Минской конвенциях и подписали надлежащее правовое соглашение, в этом случае легализация документов может и не потребоваться.

Both the USA and Russia are parties to the Hague convention in particular regarding legalization of documents which therefore implies that the MID certification is NOT necessary... this is as of 1961. So why then would it be required if the doc is translated and notarized?


Katya,

The whole point about legalisation is that the authorities in one country cannot know for certain what are genuine documents from another country.

So, as a result of this each country will put an Apostille on documents from it's own country and then all other countries that are signed up to the convention will accept these documents as genuine.

Now, the problem comes as the US embassy in Moscow will not attach an Apostille to this letter and so how can the ZAGS know that this letter really has come from the US embassy?

That is why you have to go to the Legalisation Department in Moscow and they will authenticate the letter. Then, the ZAGS will know that the letter really has come from the US embassy.

Think yourself lucky that you are marrying a US citizen. If he were British, then the legalisation could only be done in the UK, it cannot be done in Russia at all.

BabyFirefly
01-10-2013, 23:25
Go there like, NOW. We don't know when these types of services at embassies will cease until the gov gets its crap in order.

You go to the embassy, with passport. Tell them you need the free to marry document. You then go to the local Foreign Ministry office, get it stamped. Then ZAGS, then get married.

xSnoofovich
02-10-2013, 10:56
the "free to marry" document is simply an affidavit.

Affidavit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

you hold up your hand and say, "i promise i was never married, never, ever." and then you sign it. done deal.

next question please !

katya
02-10-2013, 13:14
Thanks for all the replies here. A bit of clarification.

First, I'm the American here. Second, I'm located in St Petersburg. So to plan to go to the US Embassy in Moscow first of all requires an appointment. I have no idea what they tell me during the appointment ("come back tomorrow"?).

(in addition to booking a hotel - where and how much. And train tickets or plane tickets - and again, for how long, just to get this 1 document? If any one knows of CHEAP but safe places to stay pls let me know. (I know I know, it's moscow, nothing is cheap but I am not being paid by a Western company and I dont have $200 per night for a hotel, or even $100...)

Second, while I can get a 2 p.m. appointment next week at the Embassy according to their site, I see the Min For Affairs (MID) is open the same day until 5 p.m.

My "next question" then is: Do you have to wait in line at Min For Affairs to submit your document? How long do you usually have to wait? Do they tell you to come back the next day? I see they have only 5 day turnaround which means I have to travel back to Moscow the following week to PICK UP the document. This is really not a convenient system and you know they know this. It doesn't take 5 days to stamp a document...even if they have 50,000 of them, still...

Also side note, why can't i get the affadavit here in St P and just show up to have it stamped at the Consulate there, and bring a SASE to the MinForAff to send it back to me? Or use the St Petersburg Min For Affairs? Is that not allowed? Or mail it to them to stamp it? I can see so many ways this could be improved WITHOUT them losing money and without losing the "authenticity" factor. A consular officer is a consular officer period...

katya
02-10-2013, 13:19
Katya,

The whole point about legalisation is that the authorities in one country cannot know for certain what are genuine documents from another country.

So, as a result of this each country will put an Apostille on documents from it's own country and then all other countries that are signed up to the convention will accept these documents as genuine.

Now, the problem comes as the US embassy in Moscow will not attach an Apostille to this letter and so how can the ZAGS know that this letter really has come from the US embassy?

That is why you have to go to the Legalisation Department in Moscow and they will authenticate the letter. Then, the ZAGS will know that the letter really has come from the US embassy.

Think yourself lucky that you are marrying a US citizen. If he were British, then the legalisation could only be done in the UK, it cannot be done in Russia at all.

Thanks by the way Tonytony for this explanation. I still think this is a legal error on the part of both countries. If they're both member to the Hague Convention which "deletes" legalization of documents, then why is this practice continuing? Also how is it that the RUSSIAN MFA can legalize a US document? ZAGS doesnt know what's authentic, but then neither, in theory, would the MFA... so that also seems strange to me but whatever. I just have to follow the arrows I realize.

tonytony
02-10-2013, 15:16
Thanks by the way Tonytony for this explanation. I still think this is a legal error on the part of both countries. If they're both member to the Hague Convention which "deletes" legalization of documents, then why is this practice continuing? Also how is it that the RUSSIAN MFA can legalize a US document? ZAGS doesnt know what's authentic, but then neither, in theory, would the MFA... so that also seems strange to me but whatever. I just have to follow the arrows I realize.

Katya,

Sorry for the assumption that you were Russian.

I think that perhaps you misunderstand what the Hague convention does. For those countries not signed up to it then any documents issued in one country and used in another have to be legalised twice - once in each country - before they can be used in the other country.

For those countries that have signed up to the convention then documents only need to be legalised once - in the country of origin. But the important thing is that they do still need to be legalised, this is done by attaching a certificate called an Apostille.

Different countries have different rules about how to legalise their own documents, in the US it is done at state level in most other countries it is done by a department of that country's Foreign Ministry.

But the important thing to remember is that it still does have to have this Apostille certificate attached to the document. If it doesn't have this then it isn't covered by the Hague convention.


I agree with you that ''technically'' the MFA cannot legalise a US document. But this is obviously a concession that they have granted to the USA. They don't do this for citizens of any other country as far as I am aware.

If you were a citizen of any other country then you would need to send the document back to your native country and get it legalised there and then returned to Russia - you're lucky that Russia grants this concession to US citizens.

katya
02-10-2013, 15:40
Katya,

Sorry for the assumption that you were Russian.

I think that perhaps you misunderstand what the Hague convention does. For those countries not signed up to it then any documents issued in one country and used in another have to be legalised twice - once in each country - before they can be used in the other country.

For those countries that have signed up to the convention then documents only need to be legalised once - in the country of origin. But the important thing is that they do still need to be legalised, this is done by attaching a certificate called an Apostille.

Different countries have different rules about how to legalise their own documents, in the US it is done at state level in most other countries it is done by a department of that country's Foreign Ministry.

But the important thing to remember is that it still does have to have this Apostille certificate attached to the document. If it doesn't have this then it isn't covered by the Hague convention.


I agree with you that ''technically'' the MFA cannot legalise a US document. But this is obviously a concession that they have granted to the USA. They don't do this for citizens of any other country as far as I am aware.

If you were a citizen of any other country then you would need to send the document back to your native country and get it legalised there and then returned to Russia - you're lucky that Russia grants this concession to US citizens.

You're right, i misunderstood the basis for the Hague Convention... Legalized *twice*? Mannn.... OK yes I guess we should consider ourselves lucky...

BabyFirefly
02-10-2013, 18:07
It's not just any affidavit.

There is a consulate in St. Petersburg. Go there. You don't have to go to Moscow; although they may not be working right now, given the whole situation with the gov. shutdown...

When I went through this, the longest wait was in the embassy, but the Min. of Affairs wait was short, maybe 20 mins? And I picked it up some days after.

katya
02-10-2013, 19:27
I'm praying that the St P Consulate will do it. From what I've read on their site, you HAVE to go to Moscow. That cannot be. In my case I do not need the "intent to marry" affadavit (the Moscow Embassy creates a joint "intent" and "free to marry" document from what I can tell - I dont need the zayavlenie portion). As of today they are working...and I think will keep doing so, fingers crossed. But fingers moreso crossed that the St P site can give me this document AND that the MFA in St P can legalize it.

BabyFirefly
02-10-2013, 19:29
Are you planning on staying in Russia?

katya
02-10-2013, 20:33
I've been here for 10 yrs...

BabyFirefly
02-10-2013, 20:38
Figures, just thought, if you had plans to go back stateside, you wouldn't have to do this so in that case it'd be a waste of time.

katya
02-10-2013, 20:46
Right -- no, good thinking. I was wondering that too. I happen to need this sooner (!) :-) before end of this month -- actually before Oct 17. But in any event, what US-based entity would create such a document anyway? Any idears? Just for future reference....

BabyFirefly
02-10-2013, 20:52
Not sure if I get you. If you were in the US, you wouldn't need this to marry her. If you wanted to bring her to the US, you just write a letter saying you wish to marry her, that's all.

katya
02-10-2013, 21:03
He is a Russian citizen, I"m American (female) and we're getting married in Russia. So even if i go back to the US I would need to obtain this document *for the Russian system*.

BabyFirefly
02-10-2013, 23:18
If you get married in Russia, you need the document. If you get married in the US, you don't. I guess, if you really, really want to avoid the hassle of getting this doc in Russia... you can visit the US and get married, and then go back to Russia and file whatever they have to let the authorities there know you got married.

katya
03-10-2013, 17:24
Question: *How do you obtain a "free to marry" certificate from the US Vital Records office? Their site lists NOTHING like that.

It would be cheaper for me to pay them to fedex it here than deal with the headache of two RTs to Moscow...

AstarD
03-10-2013, 17:28
Maybe. Maybe not. US government went into shutdown, so not all services are available.
American Citizen Services is still up and running.

katya
03-10-2013, 17:30
American Citizen Services is still up and running.
yes. and St P wont do this document. You HAVE TO travel to Moscow for it. I found out today. That is what the website said but i thought they would issue it if it is without the zayavlenie. Hence my current question about Vital Records office -- anyone?

AstarD
03-10-2013, 17:32
It's because there are no such documents in the USA. As Xsnoof said, you just go and swear that you've never been married, or are divorced, and that's how you get the document from American Citizen Services.

tonytony
03-10-2013, 17:34
Question: *How do you obtain a "free to marry" certificate from the US Vital Records office? Their site lists NOTHING like that.



You can't.

This is from the US Dept of State Bureau of Consular Affairs:-

http://travel.state.gov/law/family_issues/marriage/marriage_589.html

Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry: Some countries require an affidavit by the parties as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract. No such government-issued document exists in the United States.


This is obviously why the Russian foreign ministry will legalise affadavits from the US embassy in Moscow but won't legalise those from any other countries as other countries do issue these documents.

BabyFirefly
03-10-2013, 18:05
ACS is likely just running for emergencies.

But yes, you simply don't need this document in the US, so it doesn't exist, in the US. The Moscow embassy, to satisfy Russian requirements, will give you something like that, but that's it.

If I were you, and you just really don't want to go to Moscow, I'd look into getting married in a third country and then going back to Russia.

AstarD
03-10-2013, 18:42
That's a good idea about going to another country to get married. As to ACS, I just went there yesterday to have a document notarized, and it was running as normal, with no signs up warning of shutdown or anything. It would say on the website if it were only performing emergency services.

BabyFirefly
03-10-2013, 18:44
That's a good idea about going to another country to get married. As to ACS, I just went there yesterday to have a document notarized, and it was running as normal, with no signs up warning of shutdown or anything. It would say on the website if it were only performing emergency services.

yeah, the good news for them is they actually make money.

katya
03-10-2013, 19:07
Thanks for all the replies here, just catching up.

Ok this is lame (forgive me if this sounds....biased). When I had phone ACS this afternoon a Russian answered. I said I need urgent help...and explained. She said EITHER go to Moscow "Or Contact the US Vital Records Office."

Which is why I started thinking "Cool there must be a loophole, I will pay the $300 i would have spent on train/plane RT to Msk, have the US Fedex me the document overnight (ie 1 week) and I dont have to go anywhere". Except that (as you've pointed out) there is no such document.

I thought there was some affadavit that State records (ie states within the USA) could issue, for example "No record exists" such as the criminal record report does...ie no record but you still get the official paper + stamp... anyway that was my thought process, but I digress.

So why a Russian is answering the phone at the Consulate telling me to contact the US Vital Records office for a document that DOES NOT EXIST just puts the icing on the already annoyingly bitter cake. Needless to say.

I thought there were 3 options. Now I see there are only 2. Have the Russian fly to the USA to get married (not an option in this case). Or going to Moscow. Kill me now...

AstarD
03-10-2013, 19:31
Train to Moscow is 4.5 hours. And your fiance would need a special visa to marry you in the USA.

katya
03-10-2013, 19:52
I know, and I know.

BabyFirefly
03-10-2013, 22:51
Thanks for all the replies here, just catching up.

Ok this is lame (forgive me if this sounds....biased). When I had phone ACS this afternoon a Russian answered. I said I need urgent help...and explained. She said EITHER go to Moscow "Or Contact the US Vital Records Office."

Which is why I started thinking "Cool there must be a loophole, I will pay the $300 i would have spent on train/plane RT to Msk, have the US Fedex me the document overnight (ie 1 week) and I dont have to go anywhere". Except that (as you've pointed out) there is no such document.

I thought there was some affadavit that State records (ie states within the USA) could issue, for example "No record exists" such as the criminal record report does...ie no record but you still get the official paper + stamp... anyway that was my thought process, but I digress.

So why a Russian is answering the phone at the Consulate telling me to contact the US Vital Records office for a document that DOES NOT EXIST just puts the icing on the already annoyingly bitter cake. Needless to say.

I thought there were 3 options. Now I see there are only 2. Have the Russian fly to the USA to get married (not an option in this case). Or going to Moscow. Kill me now...

Going to Moscow is more cost-effective.

Locals work at consulates/embassies. Unfortunately they usually know nothing.

He won't need a visa to marry you in the US IF you go there, get married, and leave.

frankjohn2
03-10-2013, 23:28
I thought there was some affadavit that State records (ie states within the USA) could issue, for example "No record exists" such as the criminal record report does...ie no record but you still get the official paper + stamp... anyway that was my thought process, but I digress.

The State of Michigan offers such by way of a vital records check of marriage licenses. When I looked a couple of years ago the cost was $19 per YEAR that needs to be searched. I do not know about other states.

Could get quite expensive ...

katya
04-10-2013, 14:00
Eh. No time left now. I have to go to moscow tuesday.

Does anyone know of a reliable courier service? I have been looking frantically while on deadline with a 5 day project that is in fact due in 2 days.

Need reliable courier service in Moscow to pick up the document and take it to DHL for me on Oct 15. I will pay.

I will give them the talon and all required docs on Tuesday the 8th. Ie need to find the service today.

AstarD
04-10-2013, 14:26
I don't understand the question. Do you want a courier to take something to ACS in Moscow? Or to pick it up from them?

TolkoRaz
04-10-2013, 15:31
the "free to marry" document is simply an affidavit.

Affidavit - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affidavit)

you hold up your hand and say, "i promise i was never married, never, ever." and then you sign it. done deal.

next question please !

Wow, how much did you charge for that advice? :D

katya
04-10-2013, 15:46
I don't understand the question. Do you want a courier to take something to ACS in Moscow? Or to pick it up from them?

A courier to hand my talon from MID to on Oct 8, who will return to MID in person on Oct 15 after 9:30 am, and pick up the legalized document.

Separately I am arranging DHL to pick it up from said courier and send it to me in St P overnight. Cheaper than train round trip for one person in same day.

So far, 6 courier companies require doverennosti. I just need a body to pick it up and stay in one spot (cafe, office) until the DHL guy can come get it. If you have recommendations email me ASAP

AstarD
04-10-2013, 16:15
...A courier to hand my talon from MID to WHOM? on Oct 8

katya
04-10-2013, 18:06
...A courier to hand my talon from MID to WHOM? on Oct 8

To the DHL courier. One local courier to pick it up. Then DHL will take it from them.

BabyFirefly
04-10-2013, 18:21
lol, don't do that. The Moscow embassy said it'd deliver my husband's immigration stuff (you know, documents that if we lost we'd be in deep....) on X day and the DHL guy showed up on a completely random time about four days later.

katya
04-10-2013, 18:23
But was that the Embassy being late or DHL?

BabyFirefly
04-10-2013, 18:25
That was the embassy sending stuff on a different date combined with the DHL guy being late.

katya
04-10-2013, 18:51
In this case, embassy wont be late bc i do it in one day. Its not immigration papers. For what its worth DHL promises next day (morning) delivery/ ???

BabyFirefly
04-10-2013, 18:56
Do they deliver this document? When I got it (early 2012), they said I HAD to go there.

katya
04-10-2013, 19:03
No they do not deliver. That is why I mentioned DHL. You can pay a courier to pick it up.

BabyFirefly
04-10-2013, 19:08
I might be slightly tipsy but, sorry if don't understand, but... the embassy allows you to do this, or you will arrange it yourself? Embassies crap bricks at the thought of sending docs to soemone who may not be you like that

AstarD
04-10-2013, 19:55
I thought you were taking the train to Moscow to swear in front of a consular official and getting the document?