Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Is My Marriage Legal In The States?

Recommended Posts

If I get married in the Dominican will it be legal in the states?


I live in Maryland and I am hearing 2 different things. My circuit court is telling me that Maryland recognizes any foreign marriages but the wedding coordinators are saying my marriage would only be legal in the Dominican. Now my sister got married there a few years ago and she went through a translation process that allowed her marriage to be legal, but the wedding coordinators are saying different.


Anyone have any information on this?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Kate - Congratulations on your engagement!! My name is Patty Jordan and I am one of the BDW TA's.  My understanding that as long as the proper paperwork was filed and requirements fulfilled it would be a legal marriage and recognized as legal in the US. Below is information from the US Embassy in Santo Domingo and their link.  Please let me know if you have any further questions or feel free to email me direct at patty@wrighttravelagency.com. Thanks! Patty




Legal Options For Marriage in the Dominican Republic

The following information is for the guidance ONLY of civilian U.S. citizens contemplating marriage in the Dominican Republic. U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officers DO NOT have the legal authority to perform marriages. Marriages CANNOT be performed within the Embassy or within a U.S. Consular Office in the Dominican Republic.

General Requirements for Foreigners to Marry in the Dominican Republic

In order to get married in the Dominican Republic, a man and a woman must be of a certain minimum age (16 for men, 15 for women), be legally eligible to marry, and be entering into the marriage contract of their own free will. Failure to comply with any of these basic criteria could mean that Dominican authorities will decline to register the marriage as legal.

Additionally, foreigners who wish to get married in the Dominican Republic must comply with the following requirements and present the following documentation:

  1. The original passport and copies of the passport bio-page;
  2. Copies of last entries stamps;
  3. Proof of Dominican residence (if not a resident of the Dominican Republic, an additional fee applies and tourist card must be presented);
  4. Sworn declaration before a notary public, of being single and eligible to marry; the sworn declaration then needs to be legalized at the Offices of Procuraduría General de La República. If the Sworn declaration is done before a U.S. notary, it then needs to be legalized at the closest Dominican Consulate in the U.S. (In the past, the U.S. Embassy allowed U.S. citizens to swear such an affidavit of eligibility to marry before a U.S. consular officer. The Embassy discontinued this practice several years ago, however, because local officials were interpreting these documents as meaning that the Embassy had actually verified the content of the citizens’ statements, when in fact the consular officer was merely attesting to the fact that the individual in question had made the statement. U.S. citizens needing to comply with this requirement should instead present themselves to a Dominican notary –as specified above-.)
  5. Copy of foreign birth certificate and a legal translation of the certificate; central authorities in both the United States and the Dominican Republic now authenticate their own public documents, such as birth, death or marriage certificates, with a certificate of apostille (name of the authentication stamp). You can get your document apostille at the office of Vital Records in your state, or visitwww.italiamerica.org/vital_records.htm.
  6. If divorced, copy of the divorce certificate and legal translation of the certificate;
  7. 2 witnesses (not family).

Additionally, Dominican law requires that notice of the intended marriage must be published prior to the ceremony.


Celebration of marriages at the Civil Registry Office “Oficialia Civil”:

  • Both the bride and groom are foreigners not residents of the Dominican Republic - RD $20,000.00
  • One is a foreigner not resident of the Dominican Republic - RD $10,000.00
  • Both the bride and groom are foreigners residents of the Dominican Republic - RD $3,000.00

Celebration of marriages outside the Civil Registry Office (if the Civil Registry Officer goes somewhere else than the “Oficialia Civil” to celebrate the marriage):

  • Both the bride and groom are foreigners not residents of the Dominican Republic - RD $20,000.00
  • One is a foreigner not resident of the Dominican Republic - RD $15,000.00
  • Both the bride and groom are foreigners residents of the Dominican Republic - RD $10,000.00

**For updated information on the fees, visit the Junta Central Electoral´s oficial fee webpage (information available only in Spanish)

Types of Marriages

Marriages in the Dominican Republic fall generally into one of two categories:

“Civil” marriages are those in which the parties themselves register the marriage with the Dominican government. The person officiating at the wedding ceremony is a government official, usually a Notary Public. It is the couple’s choice whether or not to hold a separate religious ceremony.

“Canonical” marriages are those performed by a Roman Catholic priest. Following the ceremony, the church takes responsibility for registering the marriage with the appropriate Dominican government offices.

Marriages in religious denominations other than Roman Catholicism are fully legal and permitted. However, only the Roman Catholic Church has the ability to register marriages on the couple’s behalf. In the case of wedding ceremonies in other denominations, both members of the couple must present themselves to the governmental registrar’s office to legalize the marriage. Details on this procedure follow below in the section under “Civil Marriages”.

Civil Marriages

Marriage in the Dominican Republic is a civil contract between a man and a woman who have freely agreed to marry and have the capacity to do so. In order to get married in the Dominican Republic, a man and woman must meet the following conditions:

  1. The parties must express their free will to marry;
  2. Men between 16 and 18 years old, or women between 15 and 18 years old may get married without the consent of their parents. Any required consent must be in writing and notarized, unless the person required to give this consent does so while attending the wedding ceremony; and
  3. A man younger than 16 and a woman younger than 15 may not get married, even with their parents’ consent, although a judge may grant an exception for significant reasons.
  4. No person may be married before a prior marriage is dissolved. A divorced woman cannot get married until 10 months after her divorce has become final, unless her intended husband is the same person she has divorced.

The government official performing the civil ceremony has the authority, at the time of the ceremony, to waive any of the above requirements. Such a waiver must be made in writing and outline the basis of the waiver.

The official performing the ceremony does so in the presence of the parties and witnesses. During the ceremony, the official asks the parties and witnesses whether either of the parties has been married previously, to each other or to other people. The party who has been married previously must supply the date of that marriage and the name of the person who officiated.

The Marriage Certificate includes the complete names of the spouses, the evidence of their written consent, a declaration they have been united in matrimony and the date of the celebration and the signatures of the Officer, the spouses and the witnesses. After the celebration the marriage is registered in the appropriate civil registries.

Civil marriage is dissolved by the death of one of the spouses or by divorce.

Canonical Marriages

A Canonical marriage performed by a Roman Catholic priest has the same legal effect as a civil marriage.

As was stated in the introductory section above, however, there is a procedural difference, insofar as the priest in a Canonical marriage is responsible for transmitting the registration documents to the appropriate Dominican government office(s). Even if a civil ceremony has taken place prior to the Canonical ceremony, the officiating priest must still send a copy of the marriage certificate to the government registry.

  • Like 2

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for your response. I am thinking it is legal too, especially since the circuit court in my state said it would be legal because the recognize all foreign marriages. I just don't understand why the wedding coordinator is telling me different

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Please let us know if we can answer any additional questions. If you're looking for a TA just click the link below and one of the BDW TA's will be happy to assist with your dream wedding! 

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I know a lot of the brides-to-be here do their "legal" ceremony at home first, before they do their destination wedding but for those that don't and for all the years I've been here I have yet to see a bride married internationally that came back and said her marriage wasn't legal. As @TA Patty said, it would only be if the proper paperwork wasn't filed but I think the odds of that are extremely low. The resorts really seem to know what they're doing when it comes to the destination weddings!


Good luck!

  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you. I finally talked to the correct person at the resort who said that yes it will definitely be legal in the states once I receive the marriage certificate and file it with the courts. Thank you!!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this