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Getting married in Costa Rica. The following is a list of requirements for civil marriage of non-residents in Costa Rica, for both the bride and groom. We've prepared them in a question & answer format.
1. ID required?
Costa Rica requires a valid passport for foreigners who want to marry. Social Security nor drivers license of any country is considered proper identification for marriage purposes.
A Visa is a migratory requisite. For marriage purposes, this is not required. For most visitors to Costa Rica Visas are not required.
A Birth Certificate is not required since a sworn statement attesting to your date and place of birth covers that requirement.
2. Does anything need to be certified by a CR consulate before they arrive?
No certifications or authentications are necessary, since the sworn statement covers items that need to be authenticated or notarized.
3. Data, sent how far in advance?
Requistes' data is best sent the earlier the better. If data is complete, accurate and sent along with passport scans, 10 days before the ceremony date is recommended and normally sufficient. (for required information, see below)
4. Witnesses? who can they be?
Two (2) people are required to bear witness. They cannot be family up to the third degree. This means that those who are not allowed to bear witness are (relation to the bride and groom): mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, sister, half sister, brother, half brother, cousin, nephew, neice, all in-laws, etc. Best for witness duties are firiends.
5. How long do they need to be in Costa Rica to get married?
No required stay (permanence) in Costa Rica exists for a valid marriage.
6. Divorces? How long, original copies of decrees or any copy?
Copies: copies are not required since the sworn statement will atest to when, where and from whom you are divorced. All you need to do is send the date, place, name of court that decreed the divorce, and full name of ex-spouse, so that it can be included it in the sworn statement.
7. Woman divorced less than 300 days- can you explain that law?
300 day law: this is an arcaic law that is designed to avoid children from a previous marriage to be born in the next marriage, with the consecuences for the child that might entail. It basically requires the divorced bride to wait 300 days between the date of the divorce decree and the date of the upcoming marriage. If this is not possible, the bride must undergo two pregnancy tests by two different doctors, have them certify the negative results, have the certification translated by an official translator, and run through the required chain of signatures ending in the Secretary of State (or equivalent, depending on the country), and the Costa Rican Consulate. This must be presented to the officiating notary prior to the ceremony.
8. Then how do people get certificate, how long does it take, what is legal process here in CR and what do they do with it once it reaches them, for USA, Canadian and Other citizens.
a) The Certificate of Marriage takes 3 (three) months to process. It is slow due to the sluggishness of the Costa Rican Civil Registry, which takes roughly 11 (eleven) weeks to register the marriage in its books. This is a requisite for validity abroad.
A Rush Option is available for an additional fee, in which the Certificate is ready in 10-12 business days.
c) The Certificate arrives via Fed Ex translated and authenticated by the Consulate of the country of residence of the couple.
d) Once the Certificate is received, it must be registered in the city of residence of the couple. It is best to call city hall, town hall, municipality or equivalent to inquire where marriages are registered, and take the Certificate as proof of marriage. Costa Rican marriages are recognized all over the world.
NO NOTARIZED DOCUMENTS:
You will not need to bring any notarized legal documents because all your data will be included in a sworn statement which you both sign the day of the wedding. This avoids you having to notarize at the Costa Rican Consulate, and will save you time and money.