A Country-by-Country Guide to Getting Married in Central America

Where is the easiest country for getting married in Central America? Where’s the most difficult? If you’re looking for a Central America destination wedding, read this first. A country-by-country guide to the requirements needed for your Central America wedding.

Did you know June is the most popular month to marry? Yep, as spring turns to summer, romance blossoms and wedding bells ring out all over as Cupid gets busy uniting hearts.

But for those of you looking for a destination wedding in Central America, the fact that June is around the corner doesn’t matter so much. With its tropical beaches, warm weather, and outstanding natural beauty, Central America represents a year-round wedding destination. Put simply, it’s always “June” in Central America.

But what are the logistics of getting married in Central America? What country is the easiest for tourists to marry in? And what’s the most difficult?

Below, we highlight the requirements needed to marry in Central America, in a country-by-country guide.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s straightforward laws on marriage for tourists are a huge plus. This is all you need to get married in Costa Rica:

  1. Copy of your and your partner’s passport.
  2. Basic info (date of birth, name, last name…).
  3. Your occupations.
  4. Your address or addresses if you don’t live together.
  5. Names and addresses of your parents.
  6. Two witnesses (if you’re alone, your lawyer/wedding planner will easily find you two witnesses).
  7. Certification of divorce/death (if either of you were married before).

You need to send the above info to your lawyer or wedding planner at least a month before the wedding. Check out Costa Rican Vacations for the best recommendations of where to get married in Costa Rica. Costa Rica is also the only country in Central America currently recognizing same-sex marriages.

Panama

Panama isn’t the easiest country for tourists to marry in, but it’s still possible. Below are the requirements for marriage in Panama:

  1. You need to be in Panama for at least 20 days before a legal ceremony.
  2. Application for a marriage license filled out before the court for the jurisdiction where one or both of you live.
  3. Health Certificate for both of you (General Medical Exam, lab tests: VDRL, Complete Blood Count, Hemoglobin Electrophoresis, Urinalysis, HIV/AIDS test). You have to do it in Panama because it mustn’t be older than 14 days.
  4. Birth certificates.
  5. Children’s birth certificates (if applicable).
  6. Divorce certificate or death certificate (if applicable).
  7. Valid passports with current entry stamp into Panama.
  8. A certificate of single status.
  9. A signed declaration by both parties (on a form provided by the court) expressing their intention to marry with full names, age, marital status, nationality, profession, address, parents’ address).
  10. Two witnesses of legal age, not related to you or your partner.

For more info on getting married in Panama, POLS Attorneys in Panama City offer great guidance. If you’re looking for destination recommendations, you can’t go wrong with the beautiful Caribbean beaches of Bocas del Toro.

Nicaragua

This is what you need to get married in Nicaragua:

  1. Be over 21 if you’re a man or over 18 if you’re a woman.
  2. Valid passports.
  3. Birth certificates.
  4. Divorce certificate or death certificate (if applicable).
  5. A certificate of single status (you can get it in Nicaragua, too).
  6. Two witnesses with Nicaraguan residency.

It’s easy to marry in Nicaragua. For a great destination, we recommend our favorite beach town in Central America, San Juan del Sur. Expat Joel Stott describes his own San Juan del Sur wedding in a wonderful blog for anyone looking for inspiration.

Belize

Getting married in Belize is easy. They won’t smother you with a lot of documents and requirements. This is what you need to get legally married there:

  1. You have to be in Belize for at least 3 days before the ceremony.
  2. You have to apply for a marriage license in Belize.
  3. Valid passports.
  4. Divorce certificate or death certificate (if applicable).
  5. A copy of the first two pages of your passports.
  6. A copy of the page in your passports showing the Belize entry stamp.
  7. Two witnesses (one man and one woman).

You’ll get the marriage license after 1 or 2 days. You’ll find full details on getting married in Belize on the official government website. As for a destination, well, we’ll always recommend Placencia any day of the week. It’s our favorite Belizean beach town!

Guatemala

Getting married in Guatemala is doable, even if not the easiest place in Central America. Here’s what you need to marry in Guatemala:

  1. Birth certificates.
  2. Certificates stating each partners single status (called a “libertad de estado”). Your country’s embassy in Guatemala City can handle this. The U.S. Embassy, for example, will sign and notarize this certificate for $50 per person. The libertad de estado must be in Spanish.
  3. Passports.
  4. Medical certificates stating both partners are in good health.
  5. An announcement of the marriage two weeks before in the official Guatemalan newspapers El Diario de Centroamérica and Diario La Hora.
  6. Notification of the marriage in each of the spouse’s embassy.
  7. Registration of the marriage at the “Registro Nacional de las Personas” (RENAP) in Guatemala.

Any documents pertaining to marriage in Guatemala originating from outside Guatemala need notarizing at the Guatemalan Embassy in the spouses home countries. As for where to marry in Guatemala, how does the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Atitlan sound?

Honduras

It’s not easy to get married in Honduras, but doable if you’re down for it. Here’s what you need:

  1. Passports (plus photocopies of passports with entry stamp into Honduras copied).
  2. Birth certificates.
  3. Certified copies of birth certificates.
  4. Certified copies of police records.
  5. An affidavit of single status issued by the embassy/consulate of country of origin in Honduras.
  6. Medical certificate showing results of an HIV test per person (applicable if there are no children).
  7. If the couple has children, birth certificates of said children.
  8. Two witnesses (non-blood relatives) with valid passports/Honduran ID).

All documents, if not in Spanish, need to be translated into Spanish and apostilled. As for where to marry in Honduras, we recommend the beautiful Bay Islands of Roatan, Utila, or Guanaja. Perfect if you want to combine your wedding with a Caribbean diving vacation!

El Salvador

Here are the requirements you need for getting married in El Salvador:

  1. Birth certificates plus translated/apostilled copies of them in Spanish.
  2. Valid passports.
  3. Proof of single status issued within 60 days of the wedding date (with certification of divorce/death of previous spouse if applicable). U.S. citizens can also ask the embassy in San Salvador to provide a “Certificate of Singleness” notarized for $50 per person.

If you’re looking for a place to get married in El Salvador, how about a surf wedding on the beaches of El Tunco, or maybe a lakeside ceremony at Coatepeque or Ilopango?

So what’s the easiest country for foreigners to marry in Central America?

Here’s our list of Central American countries in order of ease of marrying your partner:

  1. Belize
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Nicaragua
  4. El Salvador
  5. Guatemala
  6. Honduras
  7. Panama

We’d certainly say Belize is the easiest country to marry in in Central America, with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and El Salvador a close second, third and fourth.

Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama are doable, but there’s more bureaucracy and hoops to jump through, especially when it comes to medical tests and providing proof of being single.

All countries in Central America have experienced wedding planners to help guide you through the legal requirements you’ll need. It’s worth finding a good one to make your big day easier.

Wherever you marry in Central America, we hope you have a good one. And if doing the actual wedding down here isn’t for you, the region also offers the best honeymoons anywhere in the world. And that’s a fact!