Saturday, November 30, 2013

Destination Weddings-What You Need To Know About Legal Requirements

Ah, the romantic notion of a destination wedding in a villa in Italy. Or standing barefoot on a beautiful beach in Mexico, Jamaica or any other Caribbean Island. Maybe you've dreamt of being married while on a cruise.

All these scenarios are possible and can save quite a bit if money versus a wedding in your hometown. With all the planning that goes into a destination wedding, one thing the bride and groom need to keep in mind are the legal requirements for a marriage by non-citizens in foreign countries.

In every location outside the United States or a U.S. territory, a passport is required (and some require a tourist card which you usually get on the airplane), certified birth certificates may be needed, and if the bride or groom have been married before,certified copies of a divorce decree which may need to be translated into the native language of the country you are marrying in or a certified death certificate is one party has a deceased spouse. Other documents can be required as well. And these requirements will add to the cost of your wedding. You will also need witnesses with the number

Mexico's legal requirements are some of the most stringent. In addition to the above, the wedding couple must arrive in Mexico three to four days before their wedding ceremony as there is a waiting period depending in the state you are marrying in. You also may be asked for a certified copy of birth certificates that have also been translated into Spanish. The legal ceremony also must be performed in  a local registrars office in Mexico to be recognized as legal in the U.S.  You will receive a Marriage Certificate that you must paybto have translated into English to bring to your City Hall to have your marriage registered. Mexico also requires a Health Certificate with blood tests that are generally done at your resort with results usually in 24 hours. Again, additional costs for these.

As if this isn't enough, the United States Department of State requires that all weddings performed in Mexico have what is called an Apostille Seal. Most wedding Coordinators on site in these countries can arrange this for you but there are additional costs.

Other Caribbean countries do not have these requirements. In St. Lucia, for instance you must arrive four days before your wedding with passports, birth certificates and divorce decrees or death certificates if married before.

European Countries have their own requirements. In Italy, for instance, the United States Travel.state.gov website states these needs:


1. U.S. passport or, if a member of the Armed Forces, identification card;
2. Birth certificate (certified copy), which shows the names of both parents;
3. Evidence of termination of any previous marriage (final divorce or annulment decree or death certificate);
4. Sworn statement of consent to the marriage by the parents or legal guardian if the American citizen is under 18;
5. A declaration (atto notorio) , sworn to by four (4) witnesses before either an Italian consular officer in the United States or, in Italy, at a Pretura or before a mayor or town clerk, stating that according to the laws to which the citizen is subject in the United States there is no obstacle to his or her marriage. Any American going to Italy to be married is urged to obtain this declaration before leaving the United States as it may be much easier to find four witnesses who know him or her sufficiently well to make such a declaration in the United States rather than in Italy.
6. A declaration, sworn to by the U.S. citizen before a U.S. Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in Italy, stating that according to the laws to which the citizen is subject in the United States there is no obstacle to his or her marriage. Evidence of U.S. citizenship (passport, naturalization certificate, birth certificate showing birth in the United States) must be shown to the U.S. Consular Officer at the time of making this declaration. U.S. military personnel must also present final approval of his/her commanding officer for the marriage. Presentation of this declaration allows Italian authorities to reduce from three weeks to approximately four days the time you must wait before being granted a marriage license.

Confused? This is why a travel agent an be your friend when booking a destination wedding. We can help sort through all the requirements so you understand exactly what you need to get married out of the U.S. We specialize in destination weddings and honeymoons. Call us at 516-608-0568 to book the destination wedding or honeymoon of your dreams.

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