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Getting a Civil Ceremony in Costa Rica

How is a civil ceremony different from a religious one?

A civil ceremony is essentially a one-stop shop because we take care of everything. It is legally binding, thus there is no need for two ceremonies. Religious ceremonies are not legally binding in Costa Rica (unless the local Catholic Church administrates them). In Costa Rica, a civil ceremony is required either before or after your religious ceremony.

The legal formalities and signing of the paperwork take around 30 minutes at civil weddings. In addition we can hold the ceremonies at your home or at the office of the Notary Public.

Marriages that are legal in Costa Rica are usually valid in other countries. The Government Registry (Registro Civil) will issue your marriage certificate three months after the marriage registration.

After you provide all required certificates to the Canadian or US embassies in Costa Rica, both countries will recognize your marriage.

To be legal in the US or Canada, your marriage certificate must be:

  • Translated into English by an Official Translator approved and verified by the Ministry of Foreign Relations
  • Notarized by a Notary Public (we can do this for you)
  • Certified and signed by your Embassy’s Consular Section.

Choosing the Location

Not everyone wants to attend a huge, traditional church wedding. The location of your wedding ceremony is your choice. Do you prefer it in a lawyer’s office? No problem! You don’t want a ceremony at a lawyer’s office? No problem! Your backyard, a public park, a beach, or a nature preserve can also be a perfect location for your civil ceremony.

The average cost for a civil ceremony is $700 (+ tax).
The average cost for a sworn declaration required for civil ceremonies (if needed) is $240 (per person).

At CRIE we work with you to make sure your marriage is stress free!

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Wanting information on where to start with getting married on the beach. Only a total of 6 people will be present including bride and groom. So just a quick and simple ceremony. We will be there Feb. 2 – 9, 2019. How do I go about getting a lawyer to perform it?

    1. Hello Vidal,

      Marriages in Costa Rica typically take 8 – 20 days to be documented (inscribed) in the National Registry.

  2. Hola! Pura vida – I was married in Costa Rica to a Tico back in August 2021 and it is of course registered there. When I returned to the USA I completed the process of changing my name using my husbands first last name. I have not updated my passport as of yet – I have pending trips and they are backlogged here – do I need to wait to update my passport before I apply for Temp. Residency thru marriage – or will they even recognize my name change and revert back to my birth name?

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