The Legal Requirements for Getting Married in Costa Rica

Costa Rica marriage requirements article by Arenas Foto Wedding Photography.

The information in this article was reviewed on September 24, 2018 by Marcelo Galli, Attorney, Notary, and Officiant and was deemed current and accurate. The purpose of this article is to provide couples planning a Costa Rica destination wedding with a succinct, current, and accurate summary of the marriage requirements that are available on various Costa Rican government websites. We are not in any way providing legal advice.

If you are getting married in Costa Rica and are looking for a notary or officiant, we highly recommend Marcelo Galli at Your Costa Rica Wedding Officiant. He is very professional, highly respected, has officiated thousands of wedding over his more than18 years as an officiant in Costa Rica, is internationally recognized as Costa Rica’s premiere wedding officiant, speaks fluent English, and is dedicated to making your wedding day the memorable day it should be and to ensuring the legal aspects of your marriage are handled quickly, correctly, and without issue.

SUMMARY OF THE LEGAL PROCESS

Before delving into the details, this is how the process should unfold. First, you choose a notary who will send you a document detailing which documents to produce and send you forms requesting your personal information and marriage status and details regarding your two witnesses. On your wedding day after the ceremony you, your spouse, your two witnesses, and the notary sign the marriage certificate. The notary will then submit the certificate to the Civil Registry of Costa Rica (El Registro Civil) to be recorded. Once recorded – it approximately 10-12 weeks – the Civil Registry produces the marriage certificate, making your marriage valid only in Cost Rica.

To have your marriage recognized in your country, we suggest contacting the appropriate government agency in your country. That’s it.  Now the details. 

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS

1. Be of legal age – 18 years of age or older

2. Have a valid passport (Immigration requires it be valid for 6 months before expiring upon entering Costa Rica)

3. The passport used to enter the country complete marriage documents must be the same one.

4. Demonstrate you are not currently married by having the Costa Rican Notary Public write a sworn statement indicating:

a) your date & place of birth,

b) names of parents and their citizenships, and

c) your marital status (with divorce details, if the case). That will forfeit any further documental proof (and make your life much simpler).

5. Have two witnesses who:

         · are 18 years of age or older

         · have: 

                    · a valid passport if not a citizen of Costa Rica (same immigration policies apply as                              above)

                    · a valid cédula (Costa Rican identify card if a citizen of Costa Rica)

         · will attest before the Notary Public that:

                   · the groom and the bride are mentally and legally fit to get married

                   · they are not being coerced in any ways to make the decision of joining in marriage

                                      NOTE: Witnesses may be a family member or friend.

TYPES OF CEREMONIES

Civil or religious ceremonies are the most common ceremonies for foreign nationals. If you choose to have a religious ceremony, we cannot urge you enough to contact a representative of your religion and specific denomination in Costa Rica far ahead of time to avoid any complications on your wedding day. For example, if getting married in a Catholic church, you must complete multiple processes to qualify, such as taking marriage classes. If you have been divorced, this further complicates matters.

For a civil ceremony, you need nothing more than an officiant and a notary. It is possible find a notary who will also officiate your ceremony.

NOTE. You need only a notary.  A lawyer that is not a notary cannot marry you.

FINDING A NOTARY OR OFFICIANT

There are three ways to find a notary or officiant: 1. in-house wedding planners, 2. independent wedding planners, and 3. on your own via the Internet.

As with your other wedding-day providers, we highly recommend researching the notaries or officiants on your short list. Not all in-house or independent wedding planners recommend experienced, reputable, professional, and personable notaries or officiants. Some hotels, resorts, and independent wedding planners are more concerned with maximizing profits instead of your happiness. Do not assume 5-star luxury hotels or resorts or high-dollar boutique independent wedding planners will refer a 5-star notary or officiant. Do your own research.

Search the Internet for “Costa Rica Wedding Officiants” or other related keywords and find videos of notaries and officiants performing a wedding ceremony in your language. Observe how they interact with the bride, groom, and witnesses as well as with the wedding guests watching the ceremony, their language skills, the sound and volume of their voice, if they appear to rush the ceremony or take much too long, and if they are organized and comfortable. If there are no videos or videos with sound of a notary or officiant, it’s a good sign to remove them from your list. Those who have performed many weddings will have many videos. In addition, read Internet reviews by previous couples to get a better idea of how your wedding-day experience will be.

READY TO GET STARTED?

COSTA RICA WEDDING RESOURCES & TIPS

ADVICE & TIPS FOR YOUR COSTA RICA DESTINATION WEDDING

Lindsay & I know first-hand how complicated planning your wedding can be.  We also know planning your destination wedding in Costa Rica is even more complicated.  To help you through the process, here are resources and articles we’ve created during our years as wedding professionals that will help you through the process.  Whether you’re looking for advice on how to choose your photographer or wedding planner, a great venue, or tips on wedding-day makeup or timeline, we hope this helps. 

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