Can I get married legally in Costa Rica?

You most certainly can! There are four basic legal requirements you need to meet to get married legally as foreigners in Costa Rica. They are:

1. Hire a legally authorized attorney/notary or priest to officiate the wedding.

2. Have a valid passport with valid visa.

3. Birth Certificates duly Apostille.

4. Have two witnesses

when somebody mentions the dreaded words "legal" and "requirements" in the same sentence oftentimes your eyes glaze over and the headache on the horizon alert goes off.

Nevertheless getting married is one of the most exciting moments of your life and while you plan this day, you will experience days full of joy. But we cannot deny the fact that organizing a ceremony can be a little bit stressful and sometimes you will experience confusion…even more if your plan is getting married in a foreign country.

Having a wedding in Costa Rica include special readings from the law, vows, symbols or wedding themes that they may or may not be able to include in a religious ceremony depending on your personal choices.

Church Weddings

If you have your heart set on a church wedding it is possible to arrange one as the country is 70% Roman Catholic. However, keep in mind that there may be other requirements such as pre-marriage classes, etc.

To a lesser degree, you can find Christian pastors but if you follow another religion such as Buddhism, Islam, or Judaism it would be a good idea to bring your own officiant. Whichever of these options you choose you will still have to contact a Costa Rican lawyer to handle the paperwork for you. The only religious officiants recognized in Costa Rica are priests in the Catholic church.

What Documents Do I need?

Bringing the right documents in most cases is a cinch. All you really need to get married is your passport that is valid for six months. Since you can’t even get into the country without one, you should be covered.

Note that you cannot use driver’s licenses or social security numbers for ID. As a foreigner in Costa Rica, a passport is the only valid form.

Generally, your officiant will send you a form that asks for all your basic information, personal data, occupation, names of the parents of the bride and groom, etc. You should provide this information to your officiant at least a couple of weeks before your wedding date.

Divorce Paperwork

If you have been married before, you can bring a copy of a divorce or death decree or you can simply make a sworn statement that you are no longer married.

Note: In Costa Rica, there is an archaic law that if a woman is divorced for less than 300 days she either must wait the requisite time period or submit two doctor’s opinions showing that she is not pregnant.

How many witnesses Do I need?

You will need at least two witnesses for the ceremony. If you’re coming to Costa Rica with an entourage this requirement won’t be difficult at all.