Many couples come to us and ask about the process of being legally married in Ireland. Most of the answers to that question are in our Blog;
Along with the application form (Capture of Data form), there are supporting documents which are also required to lodge with the HSE for the Notification application.
One of these documents is called; Letter of Freedom.
The Letter of Freedom for the HSE Notification of Intent to Marry application refers to a LEGAL document that states that the person wanting to marry is "free" to do so. In other words, that person is not married in any other country.
This document, when requested by the HSE, is applicable for people who have either been born outside of the Republic of Ireland, or have been living outside of the Republic for an extended period of time.
The applicant would need to get in touch with the Govt department of Births/Deaths & Marriages, in their home country (or the country which they are living, if outside of the Republic). The department might be a local council, civic council, Government department etc.. Whomever keeps a register of marriages.
The department/civil office, will be able to do a search of their records and create a "letter" or official document which states that the applicant has not been married in that country.
Some countries call the "Letter of Freedom" some other name. For example, in the UK, this document is called a "No Trace of Marriage" certificate.
It is sometimes possible to contact an applicants Consulate, here in Ireland, to request this information also. Some country consulates offer this service. But for the majority, you would need to contact an official office in the actual country itself. The USA , for example, their consulate here in Ireland does not offer this service - and applicants must get in touch with their state of birth back in the USA, to request the document.
Another possible option is for the applicant to swear an affidavit before a Lawyer or Commissioner of Oaths stating that he/she has never been married. This MUST first be checked with the HSE Registrar to ensure that it would be accepted by them.
Now, just to be a little more confusing for couples here in Ireland - there is also a different "Letter of Freedom" associated with getting married. Yup, why have one when you can have two!?
The other type of Letter of Freedom is for a Catholic, Religious wedding ceremony. This document is usually requested by the Priest marrying the couple, in the county that they are holding the service.
The marrying Priest would ask the couple for a Letter of Freedom, if they have not always lived in that particular Parish.
So, for example, if an applicant was born and baptized in one county, but now is marrying in another.
The applicant will need to contact the Priest in their original county and ask if the Priest can supply a Letter of Freedom for the marrying Priest.
This might also be requested if the applicant is from outside of the Republic... in which case, the applicant would need to contact the Parish in their country of origin.
Usually, this letter is requested from each and every parish that the applicant might have lived in, if longer than 6 months... since 18 years of age. There are some circumstances where an alternative option is available, if it is too difficult to get this information. Talking with the marrying Priest to discuss options is the best.
This particular document is NOT a legal document. It is also not used for the HSE Notification application. They are two separate documents, for two completely separate parts of getting married.
As always, if you have any questions about this - or other parts of the application process for Getting Married in Ireland.... please use our contact page to get in touch!