How to Get Married in Costa Rica
The Legal Requirements
Note: As with all legal matters, we advise you to consult a reputable Notary in Costa Rica, especially one who is used to officiate marriages. In our articles, our goal is to provide current, quality, accurate, and relevant information for individuals considering getting married in Costa Rica so you can make an informed decision and refrain from recommending specific vendors. In this case, we will make an exception. We highly recommend Mr. Navas. He is highly respected in his field, is very professional, knowledgeable, and speaks fluent English. He married us.
Costa Rica has many beautiful and enchanting places for your destination wedding, from its countless amazing beaches along its Pacific Coast, to its tropical jungles, volcanoes, waterfalls, and lagoons. The legal process of getting married in Costa Rica might just be easier than choosing which of its numerous gorgeous wedding venues is right for you.
Summary of The Legal Process
Before delving into the details, this is how the process should unfold. First, you choose a Notary who should 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 your Notary officiates, you, your spouse, your two witnesses, and the Notary sign the marriage certificate. Your lawyer will then submit it to the Civil Registry of Costa Rica (El Registro Civil) to be recorded. Once recorded, which takes 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 home country, we suggest you contact the appropriate government agency in your country and your country’s embassy in Costa Rica to determine the correct procedures, given that it will vary by country. That’s it. Now to the details.
1. Be of legal age (18 years of age or older in Costa Rica).
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 must be the same one for completing marriage documents.
4. Demonstrate you are not currently married by:
· presenting an official document from your country that demonstrates you are not currently married,
· providing a sworn statement or affidavit before a Notary Public (can be the same Notary who will marry you).
5. Have two witnesses who:
· are 18 years of age or older
· 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 a friend.
6. A divorced or widowed woman wanting to remarry in Costa Rica must:
· wait 300 days from the date of the issuance of the divorce decree or publication of the death certificate of her deceased spouse, or circumvent this requirement by
· demonstrating she is not pregnant by taking a pregnancy test administered by the Supreme Court of Costa Rica at the Forensic Medicine Office.
7. If your future spouse is a Citizen of Costa Rica, she/he must produce:
· Certificate of Civil Status issued by the Civil Registry demonstrating current marital status
· Copy of certified divorce documents with the required stamps if previously married in Costa Rica
· Certified copy of spouse’s death certificate with government stamps if a widow or widower
NOTE: The Notary usually will acquire these documents if necessary.
Types of Ceremonies
Civil or religious ceremonies are the easiest and most common ceremony for foreign nationals. If you elect to have a religious ceremony, we cannot urge you enough to contact a representative of your religion and specific denomination 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. All you need is a Notary. You do not need a lawyer. If lawyer is not a notary, she/he cannot marry you.
Finding a Notary or Officiant
If you are working with an independent wedding planner whose clients are primarily foreign nationals, they should be able to recommend a few. Also, in-house wedding planners at resorts, hotels, and other Costa Rica wedding venues that cater to international clients planning their destination wedding in Costa Rica should be able to suggest a a Notary and/or officiant. If organizing your own wedding, you will find many options on the Internet. Again, we highly recommend Rogelio Navas, Esq. N&A Abogados & Notarios.
Have a Unique Situation Not Addressed in This Blog?
Contact Rogelio Navas, Esq., N&A Abogados & Notarios.