Question: “I just got married in South Korea. Do I need to report this to someone in the United States?”
Answer: Unlike South Korea, the United States with a federal type of government does not maintain a central registry of family relationships. This responsibility largely falls to the states most of which maintain their own records of birth, death and marriage when these take place within their borders. The Department of State maintains records related to American citizens who are born or die abroad, but there is no organization or department in the United States that tracks marriages involving U.S. citizens that take place outside the U.S.
The general recommendation we make in the American Citizen Services Unit is that American citizens who are married overseas maintain an original or certified copy of their foreign marriage document along with a notarized translation or authentication. While there is no requirement to report your overseas marriage to U.S. authorities, you may be required to submit evidence of the marriage for tax purposes, to petition for immigration status for your spouse, or for a variety of other official purposes.
It can be difficult to obtain replacements for foreign documents and many countries do not have high standards for the maintenance and upkeep of their records, so special care should be taken to retain and preserve your marriage certificate since it will be the primary evidence of your marital relationship. It is also recommended that American citizens obtain good contact information for foreign authorities should they require a replacement. As always, living, working, and even falling in love in a foreign country can present unique challenges. By taking these recommended steps you will be better prepared to prove you are married once you return to the United States.