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Updated Marriage Requirements for Puerto Rico

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Ever since my sister got married at the El Convento Hotel in Puerto Rico, I've been a fan of the island as a top choice for a destination wedding. It wasn't just the setting that makes this a special place to get married. The people who worked behind the scenes to make the entire event go off without a hitch were exceptional, hard-working, kind, attentive and professional. The quality of the decorations, the food, the music and just about every detail was top-notch.

Of course, a flawless wedding is not just about the big day, but about the months of planning that goes before, which can get especially tricky when planning a wedding in an exotic island far from home. One of the typical hassles of getting married abroad is the requirements for obtaining a marriage licence. Thanks to a law passed in Puerto Rico in 2012, these requirements have changed to make it easier than ever to tie the knot on the island. Here's what you need to know, taken verbatim from official documents.

1. Medical Certification

To get married in Puerto Rico, both you and your future spouse must visit the Demographic Registry Office conveniently located at the Plaza Las Américas Mall in Hato Rey, San Juan. You need to bring with you a medical certification indicating that you met all the required tests for marriage back in your place of residence. The certification is valid for a period of 10 calendar days from date of issue. After that period, the certification will be considered invalid, and you'll have to get a new one.

For more information, you can reach the Demographic Registry Office 800-866-7827.

2. No Residency Required

One of the most convenient aspects about getting married here is that, unlike many other destinations, you don't need to be a resident of the island. Any person who is not a resident of Puerto Rico and wishes to be married here must present to the Demographic Registry a copy of an affidavit stating that:
  1. He/she is not a resident of Puerto Rico.
  2. The purpose of the visit is for marriage and, if for a foreign citizen, he/she will not stay in Puerto Rico for more than the time period specified in the permission documents granted by the appropriate federal agency in order to enter U.S. territory. If the affidavit is issued in the U.S., it must be accompanied by certification of the corresponding state's county clerk. If issued in a Republic/Sovereign Country, it must be accompanied by the Apostille seal of the Hague Treaty of 1961.

3. Photo ID

You also need to submit to the Registry a valid photo ID issued by the government of the country, or state, where you reside. This can include a driver's licence, passport or state ID. Foreigners must present a valid passport, visa or green card.

4. Internal Revenue Stamp

You'll need to get a $20.00 Internal Revenue Stamp from the Government of Puerto Rico.

5. Birth Certificate

You'll need copies of the birth certificates of both parties (the names of the parties will be recorded as they appear on the certificate).

6. Previous Marriages

If applicable, bring divorce decrees from each previous marriage and/or death certificate of spouse.

7. Getting Your License

The registrar will examine all the above documents and affix them to the back of the marriage license. Once all requirements are met and the process is finished, the license will be signed and issued, in addition to the marriage certificate to present at the ceremony. Anyone under 21 must be accompanied by a parent.

The couple must review all these documents, sign all sections of the marriage certificate using permanent black or blue ink, or by typing, and present it at the ceremony.

And that about covers it!

8. If You Need Help

It's relatively easy to take care of the above requirements on your own, but if you don't have the time or patience for it, or you want to make absolutely sure you don't make any mistakes, considering getting professional help. By that, I mean using the services of a local wedding planner.

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