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Legalities of Getting Married in Mexico
Unlike Las Vegas, which has a reputation for fast and easy weddings, couples that want to get married in Mexico have a few legal hoops to jump through -- as well as a short mandatory waiting period. The good news is that the process is relatively easy and civil ceremonies in Mexico are recognized in the U.S. Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions. Be aware that rules vary by state in Mexico, so you should check with your wedding coordinator or a local civil registrations office (Registro Civil) for more information about marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies. And when you're done reading about the rules on getting married in Mexico, check out our guide on where to get married in Mexico.
Is there a residency requirement or waiting period in Mexico?
You don't need to be a resident of Mexico to get married there. However, couples do need to arrive and stay in Mexico for three full business days (this excludes Saturdays, Sundays and Mexican holidays) before submitting a marriage license application.
What documents are needed for the marriage license application?
• Original birth certificates with apostille-certified Spanish translations.
• Passports (originals as well as copies).
• Tourist cards (these are issued to you at the airport upon landing).
• The completed marriage license application (this form is available at local civil registrations offices in Mexico).
What if one of you is divorced or widowed?
The laws vary by state in Mexico on when people are allowed to remarry. Most require at least one full year from the date of the final divorce decree. Your divorce decree must be translated to Spanish, certified with an apostille and presented as part of the marriage application. In addition, if either party is widowed, the death certificate of the deceased spouse is needed as part of the documentation requirements. This also must be translated into Spanish and certified with an apostille.
Are blood tests required?
Yes, recent blood tests are required from both the bride and groom. Many resorts have doctors on staff who can do blood tests on the premises. These tests should be done at least three business days before the wedding and the results must be written in Spanish. The cost for this usually ranges from $150 to $300. In some Mexican states, chest X-rays are also required.
What is the cost and processing speed for a marriage license application?
Once you have all of your paperwork together and three business days have passed, you can submit the application at a local civil registrations office. Marriage license fees vary by state in Mexico, but usually range from $25 to $40. The processing time also varies -- anywhere from 30 minutes to a few days -- after which the ceremony can take place.
Do we need to have witnesses at the ceremony?
If neither of you are Mexican, you will need to have at least four witnesses present at the ceremony -- two for the bride and two for the groom. Your witnesses must be at least 18 years old and will be required to submit their passports (originals as well as copies) and tourist cards at least three business days before the ceremony. If you do not have witnesses traveling with you, they can often be provided by your resort.
Are wedding ceremonies performed in English or Spanish?
To be legal, ceremonies must be performed in Spanish, but they can be translated to English by resort staff or someone else who has been designated to do that. Symbolic ceremonies -- such as renewals of vows or commitment ceremonies -- are all performed in English.
Is a Mexican wedding recognized in the U.S.?
Yes, civil ceremonies in Mexico have legal validity in most countries including the U.S. However, religious ceremonies are not legal. Once the civil ceremony has been conducted, couples will need to obtain a certified copy of their marriage certificate (Acta de Matrimonio), which proves they have been wed in accordance with Mexican law. Then, upon return to the U.S., they will need to get that certificate "authenticated." This is done by the Office of Authentications in the State Department. For more information, visit http://www.state.gov/m/a/auth/.
Are there any requirements for a renewal of vows ceremony?
No. Unlike a civil wedding, vow renewals are considered to be "spiritual" ceremonies and are not legally binding. Anyone can perform this type of ceremony, which is simply regarded an affirmation of the couple's commitment to each other.