Marcelo Galli, Officiant
Questions About Getting Married in Costa Rica
Getting married in Costa Rica is not difficult, but there are some things you should know. Here is a list of frequently asked questions that I have answered over the years. If you have specific questions not answered here, please use the contact form in the menu above and I will reply.
Will my marriage be legal outside Costa Rica ?
Of course. A certification of marriage is issued by the Civil Registry of Costa Rica, translated by an Official Translator, and apostilled or authenticated by our own Foreign Ministry, and finally notarized by the Consulate (or Consular Offices) of the country you reside in. This procedure is done strictly following Costa Rican as well as international laws that regulate these matters, thus ensuring full validity of your marriage back home.
What do I need to get married in Costa Rica ?
Although other websites may tell you another story by providing you with a list of paperwork you have to send, that's just the "hard way" of doing things. I've devised a way to make it as simple as possible for you and at the same time ensuring that the marriage is completely valid. All you need is a passport. Simply fill out the "Requisite for Costa Rica weddings" attachment I will send you on an email, and scan a copy of the Bride and Groom's passports. If you are divorced, just jot down you divorce information on an email (item 5 on the Requisites).
No need for notarizations nor divorce decrees. No need for blood tests, nor police records. It's as simple as that. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are either wrong or a Costa Rican Consular officer!
Can I get marrried with only my driver's license or social security number ?
No. Neither a driver's license or social security number will be accepted. In Costa Rica, if you are not a citizen of our country, a valid passport is the only accepted form of identification for marriage.
When do we receive the Certificate of Marriage ?
It takes 4-6 weeks to process in the Registry, after which I translate, apostille or notarize (depending on your country’s laws), and send it to you. The whole process takes under two months.
Is there any document we receive immediately after the ceremony ?
I can gladly provide you with a Notary Certification upon request. Just let me know and I'll have one ready for you on Ceremony Day. The Notary Certification is useful for private sector, such as insurance or simply proving that you are married at your workplace.
How do I know you are reliable? I've heard horror stories about people that never receive their Certificate of Marriage
I understand your concern. I worry a lot as well about some of the bad work done by lawyers that are new to the business. There's nothing wrong with learning, but messing up or -even worse- negligence is another matter. References are an officiant's best friend, and I trust couples the most on this, since hotels and planners might have some biases when recommending. Online message boards where you can ask newlyweds that used my services for their opinions are most helpful.
Get a sense of the quality of the service provided. Nonetheless, if you would like hotels and planners' recommendations about my work, I'll gladly provide a list of Costa Rican as well as US sources, in order for you to have an overall view and feel at peace that you are working with the best available. Finally, ordinary lawyers don't have a reputation to live up to. I have a reputation with an extensive list of reputable venues, and I can't afford one bad review.
What does a lawyer in Costa Rica know about wedding ceremonies ? The ceremony is truly important to us.
Absolutely nothing. He just knows how to do it "by the book" (yikes!). The only way he can learn is through practice and observation. Even with an experienced "bridal consultant" tipping him off, he won't be able to convey the sensitivity, or have the tact and social skills you require for you and your guests. He may even be a little "off" concerning attire. Just look at some photos on the Internet. With many lawyers, you can see their inexperience in these matters -or how they've just done it "their way" for a long time- when they ask you to "raise your arms, look up to the sky and seize the moment!".
I've been working as an Costa Rica Wedding Officiant since 1998 and have trained through observation, practice and investigation to be the best in this business. It does not hurt to be married to a hopelessly romantic California Girl, who is a writer and editor - that comes in handy as well in order to tailor the perfect ceremony.
Also - what does a lawyer know about international marriage ?
Many local beach lawyers from rural locales are not seasoned in international matters. This can create situations like the following for example: a local lawyer from a beach jungle region thought he was supposed to sign a Texas marriage license, because the couple urged him to. They took the license back home and the judge informed them that foreign lawyers can't sign Texas marriage licenses!
Their marriage was null! Luckily, I was called for advice by the planner who hired this lawyer. The lawyer was briefed by the planner with the information I provided and finally sent the correct paperwork. The couple ripped the invalid Texas license, used the paperwork furnished by the lawyer and then the marriage was still on.