Planning a wedding is stressful, exhausting and annoying. It eats up too much of our my precious free time, and I have to think of too many things at once. Many wedding checklists online make all the work a little easier for me, but still, it still somewhat annoys me that I have to do all the planning although I did not want to have a wedding party in the first place. Mr. Panda and I talked a lot about it these days, and finally, after hours of arguing, we reached an almost fair compromise. We will have a medium sized 50 to 60 people wedding party, but I can decide on the theme. So wedding planning finally got serious!

We already decided on a date and made an appointment for our civil marriage online last week. At first, everything went smoothly. We picked a date, and reserved a ceremony for our my D-Day at our favored civil registry office here in Vienna online. And after the weekend, we got an E-Mail with a confirmation of your reservation. Furthermore it included a highlighted message that we both would have to come to the office together and that we should bring the following documents: birth certificate and proof of citizenship. As we have no children and both of us live in Austria, no more documents are required. With all my Austrian documents I never had any problems at all as well as Mr. Panda with his Hong Kong and Austrian ones, but it looks like some random bureaucracy reforms recently put a spoke in our wheel.

Both of us thought that no bigger obstacles would block our path down to ‘Happily Ever After’, as Mr. Panda already gained Austrian citizenship a few years ago. Still there was one little information at the civil registry office’s website which gave me a headache. According to their provided information, every foreign document now needs at least one certificate of authentication. He already got granted Austrian citizenship without any sort of verification, so why should there any problems with his Hong Kong birth certificate now?

Just in case, I decided to give our officer in charge a call, to make sure if we suddenly needed one of these authentications or not. Unfortunately worst came to worst: I was told that Mr. Panda’s birth certificate now needs an apostil to be recognized as a valid document in Austria. A recent bureaucracy reform makes it now necessary to get a verification for all his personal Hong Kong documents. I faked concern and as if I knew what she was talking about, because, I have to confess, both of us had absolutely no idea what an apostil was or why they were needed for documents.

A private lesson from Wikipedia and a short investigation on the civil registry office’s website later, we knew what to do. A birth certificate from the People’s Republic of China requires a diplomatic or consular legalization, while one from Hong Kong or Macau requires an apostil, which is (as far as I understood) a consular document which certifies the authenticity of a document – and this is what we now have to get somehow!

While our officer kindly extended our deadline until we have to bring in our documents to the end of March, I had to start to check, how Mr. Panda could get such an apostil. According to further research, we will have to visit Hong Kong’s court facility which offers a special apostil service, when we will be in Hong Kong in February. There is still much bureaucratic work ahead of us (Austria is infamous for its bureaucratic jungle), but at least Mr. Panda is now one step closer to be allowed to marry me. Case (almost) closed!

Did you also got caught in a bureaucratic jungle before?

Further Notes: Before our officer confirmed that Mr. Panda’s birth certificate needed an apostil, my mom and I joked about why he suddenly needed one, but his application and granting of Austrian citizenship years ago did not require anything more than his original birth certificate with a German translation. Is Austrian citizenship less worth than marriage? Is it OK to become Austrian, but now that he wants to marry a clever Austrian mountain girl is beyond a joke? Is this were the fun stops? At least we could solve the mystery, when the officer told me about the reform.

I told the story to a handful of my friends. The probably funniest reply came from one of my friends from my hometown. He joked that Mr. Panda probably needs a handwritten special permit from the Freedom Party in Carinthia which one would probably be granted after a small voluntary donation to the party, and only then he would be allowed to marry me. I laughed so hard I cried, but one who does not know about the history of Southern Austrian federal politics might not see the fun of his allusion.

 

How To Marry A Hong Kong-Born In Austria, Part 1: The Birth Certificate

16 thoughts on “How To Marry A Hong Kong-Born In Austria, Part 1: The Birth Certificate

  • January 15, 2016 at 8:53
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    So your process started! Ah, this is what I am dreading the most, all the paperwork… To get married here in China I also need to get my birth certificate. I have never seen or used this document before. Don’t you think it is kind of weird? I mean, I have a passport, a Spanish identity card, lots of documents… why exactly do they need the birth certificate? Isn’t it obvious that I was born? And the place and date are included on the passport…

    Anyway, good luck with all the paperwork and planning!

    Reply
    • January 15, 2016 at 10:07
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      We always bring ours with us, but this is actually the first time, someone actually wants to see it. He first got granted his residence permit, and later Austrian citizenship, but now he is not allowed to mary with his documents anymore? That’s ridiculous!

      Reply
  • January 15, 2016 at 11:45
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    The whole paper work in Spain drove my wife crazy. All the document are need to be translated and required apostils. Worse still, it took almost an year to process in Spain (they told us it might take 2 years to put my name into the “family book” and to make our marriage office in Spain)… It is much easier to get marriage in Hong Kong.We made an appointment with the lawyer and decided the date that we want to get the thing done. And On that date, we just needed to sign the papaer and asked the witness to co-signed the papaer. All we need is her spanish passport and my hong kong ID card. No document is required to be translated into English or CHinese. And Of course we need to pay (about 3000HKD).

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    • January 15, 2016 at 11:56
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      Wow that really sounds horrible! And so much easier to do it in Hong Kong.
      I am glad that we only have to struggle with his birth certificate. The apostil will cost us 125HKD, and then we can get married in Vienna, which will cost us about 100EUR/~1000HKD. Luckily, we do not have something like a family register/book here in Austria. So the belated apostil for his birth certificate will (hopefully) be our only document hurdle.

      Reply
  • January 15, 2016 at 11:58
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    Ahh… the paper work… We had a fair share of that before my wife and I got married. We had a church wedding and they too asked for the birth certificate.

    Being a British overseas national, I had to apply for a special visa to get married in the UK. The support documents were a few inches thick when I submitted the visa application at the embassy.

    Once I arrived at the UK, we had to go to an interview at the church council to make sure all the docs are correct and it’s not a sham marriage. They were super confused when they saw my British overseas passport and asked us why we were there. Granted it looked exactly the same as a normal british passport except the nationality column, which specified the overeas citizens. Had to explain to them for a bit.

    To cut the long story short, the vicar received the final approval to marry us hours before the wedding was due.

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    • January 15, 2016 at 12:06
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      That really sounds complicated as well! Gladly he didn’t want to see a handwritten special permit from the pope so you could marry in a church. Having a church marriage is so complicated here in Austria, and it is also impossible because Mr.Panda is not catholic. He would have needed to change confessions first, get baptized, have his first communion, and then I had to reenter blablabla… So no marriage in a church for us. But non of us cares, my family also does not, so all good here.
      We probably would have also ended with getting our OK 2 hours before the ceremony as well, so NO! 😀

      And Mr.Panda and his brother also said that they had so many problems when they travelled to the UK with their overseas citizens passports. They were almost treated like crimilans and thoroughly interviewed why they REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to travel to the UK. 🙁

      Reply
      • January 18, 2016 at 1:50
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        Haha, having a handwritten letter from the pope would be awesome. I would have it framed. The process was not painless but not painful either, just the matter of jumping through the hoops and ticking all the boxes.

        For me, it was quick. Visa took 3 days to approve as opposed to 8 weeks the official webpage told me. The interview toolk 10 minutes, with a nice chat and looking through both our passport. We were told to bring along a lot of documents by the official guidelines but were never checked. It just the matter on their side of making quite a few typos on the approval letter at the end…

        I’m sorry to hear Mr Panda’s brothers had bad experience when entering the UK. Maybe it’s down to bad luck, on the occasion I’ve been, sometimes the immigration officer looked at my passport and told me ‘welcome home’ and I could have use the EU channel / autsomatic gate instead. I had to explain that it was a overseas passport and I need a stamp from them!!! Sometimes they just looked at my passport and stamped it and only very simple questions were asked…

        Reply
        • January 18, 2016 at 10:52
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          Yours sounded like an extra lazy officer. You had to tell him what to do. 😀
          At least you didn’t have any troubles when travelling. I am also save with my Austrian passport. Only last time in China the officer was sceptic because my passport and therefore my picture was 10 years old, and I lost 15kg since then.

          Reply
  • January 21, 2016 at 13:20
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    There is a ring of hell reserved for those who require documents to be a certain way… or at least I hope there is after going through 3 international adoptions of my own and 2 for my sister. The birth certs are no longer a big deal (I hope) because they all have US birth certs through our state that says they were born in China. But God help us all if they ever lose their cert of citizenship.

    Reply
    • January 21, 2016 at 13:45
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      That ring must be pretty big for all members of the Austrian parliament then. 😀
      It’s such a pain to deal with these unnecessary extra things. I feel like they enjoy bullying Austrian citizens, and it looks like they enjoy it elsewhere when it comes to adopt foreign orphans. 🙁

      Reply
  • January 23, 2016 at 14:53
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    Thankfully we had it rather easy when we got married. My wife only sent a list of documents we needed to her mother and two weeks later we had everything ready 🙂

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    • January 25, 2016 at 11:54
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      That was our ‘Plan B’: send everything to HK and get another one to go to the office and get everything done for us. 😀

      Reply
  • May 23, 2016 at 7:43
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    Thank you for your sharing and all the links and information!
    Do you mind if I ask if there is any other obstacle than the HK Birth Certificate from your husband?
    (I am from Hong Kong and currently still live in Hong Kong while my Finance is from Austria. We are planning our wedding in 2017 so I am grate if you could share your experience with me =] )

    Reply
    • May 23, 2016 at 11:07
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      Congratulations! 😀

      Other than it costs a lot of money as they are charging a once-only fee for every document (if they haven’t already before if you applied for any other service in Austria), everything almost went smoothly.

      If your fiance was not born in the city you are going to marry, the officers will probably check his birth certificate’s authentication – at least they did so in Vienna with mine. It was free of charge and took them a little more than two weeks.

      We were told that if one or both persons of the bridal pair are not fluent in German, you will need to bring an interpreter. I did not ask any further if it needs to be a certificated one as it doesn’t apply to us.

      Other than that you have to go to the registry office together before the wedding to get all the documents checked again in their office hours, which are like from 9-12 only. 🙁

      I hope I could help you.

      Reply

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