When somebody mentions the dreaded words ‘legal’ and ‘requirements’ in the same sentence oftentimes one’s eyes glaze over and the headache-on-the-horizon alert goes off. Luckily for those wanting to get married legally in Costa Rica, the requirements are relatively painless and not too difficult to satisfy.
- First step, contact an officiant beforehand. Although the process isn’t too complicated keep in mind that this isn’t Vegas, you can’t just show up in country with your passport in hand and plan to get married. However, finding an officiant also isn’t difficult. You can either contact one directly or if you are planning to get married in a hotel or other venue where weddings often take place there will often be an officiant available onsite or the venue can put you in contact with one. Most destination weddings in Costa Rica are performed by lawyers as that is the easiest option but if you have your heart set on a church wedding it is possible to arrange one as the country is 90% 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. (However, you will still have to contact a Costa Rican lawyer to handle the paperwork for you).
- Bring the right documents. This one is a cinch because all you really need to get married is your passport and 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. For 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. This information should be provided to your officiant at least a couple weeks in advance of your wedding date. 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.
- Have two witnesses. If you’re coming to Costa Rica with an entourage this requirement won’t be difficult at all. Your two chosen witnesses will just need to provide basic name and contact information and their passport. Keep in mind that witnesses cannot be related to you to the third degree, but your best friend should do the trick! Some hotels and venues can provide witnesses for you if you’re coming to Costa Rica alone.
Check out our Ultimate Guide for Getting Married in Costa Rica for more tips on getting hitched in this amazing country!