Many engaged couples looking to have their wedding in Costa Rica are not aware of the required documents, rules and regulations pertaining to marriage in this country. For instance, only a Catholic Priest or a Lawyer can marry a couple in Costa Rica, a Protestant Pastor may not. This is a quick guide for those who are wanting to get married in Costa Rica- please note that there are some different rules if one spouse is Costa Rican and the other is not. Visit Tips For Costa Rica for more info on weddings in Costa Rica!
If neither the Bride nor the Groom is Costa Rican:
~ Each person must have a valid passport which does not expire for 6 months, and you must submit two copies of each to your lawyer
~You will need to locate and hire a local attorney to marry you and file your paperwork. If you are being wed at a hotel, the hotel will likely recommend an attorney or hire one for you. If the hotel does locate one, it will likely cost around $500 USD; however if you hire one on your own it will likely cost around $300. If one person’s first language is not Spanish, then a translator must be present and the ceremony must be held in both languages
You will need to give your lawyer the following information approximately one month before the wedding:
~ Full name of both Bride and Groom: first, middle and last. No initials will be accepted
~Passport numbers and nationality
~ Birth dates and places of birth
~ Foreign address
~ Marital status certificate - if divorced you will need to provide a copy of the divorce decree. If the Bride has been divorced for less than 12 months, she may need to present a negative pregnancy test to the nearest Costa Rican consulate for authentication.
~ Both the Bride and Grooms Mother and Father’s full name and nationality, the mother’s full name should actually have her maiden name, not married name
~ Parent’s address
Two Witnesses are required to sign the marriage licence. If you are travelling alone, the hotel will most likely provide you with the witnesses. You will need to present the following information about your witnesses to your lawyer at least one month before the wedding:
~Full name, no initials
~ Date and place of birth
~ Passport number (copy of passport) and nationality
~ Marital status
*Please Note* In Costa Rica a notary is not solely one who validates signatures. Here, a notary is empowered to make entries directly to a registry and register documents. All notaries are attorneys, however not all attorneys are notaries, so make sure you hire the right person!