Getting Married Overseas: Is It Legal? Top 10 Wedding Destinations

Getting married in a far-away location may require early planning and preparation. To make sure your destination wedding is legal, it may be necessary to fulfill residency requirements, take blood/medical tests, or produce official documentation, such as birth certificates, divorce records, and valid U.S. passports. The documentation may also need to be translated into the countries own spoken language (for a fee). Also, you need to know if your marriage will be recognized in the United States, this information is available from the Attorney General in your state of residence.

Because marriage license requirements often change, it is important that you verify all information with the local foreign office before making any wedding or travel plans. Check state marriage license requirements if you plan to stay in the country for your nuptials.

Here's what you need to know before you apply for a marriage license in ten of the top wedding destinations below.

Top Ten Wedding Destinations - Legal Requirements

Country Residency Documents and Notations
Mexico None

Valid Passport; valid visas or entry documents; certified copies of birth certificates previously "legalized" and translated by the Mexican consulate with jurisdiction over the place of filing; driver's licenses or passports valid for at least 6 months; pre-nuptial agreement regarding joint ownership of property; certified proof of divorce or death certificates of former spouse/s (if applicable) previously "legalized" by the Mexican consulate with jurisdiction over the place of filing; judge's form; pre-nuptial medical certificate obtained in Mexico; some Mexican states have additional requirements. Mexico Consulate.

The Mexican Ministry of Tourism recommends that you budget two to four days to complete all requirements. It is recommended that you work with a wedding planner to help you fulfill all requirements properly.

Mexico Tourism Board.

Jamaica 24 Hours

Certified copies of birth certificates that include father's name; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable).

Application must be made 48 hours in advance of trip by calling the Ministry of National Security at (876) 906-4908.

Jamaica Tourist Board, (800) 233-4582, or jamaicatravel.com

Dominican Republic None

Must provide valid U.S. passport and original birth certificate; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable).

Write to the American Consulate in advance asking permission to marry in a civil ceremony.

Embassy of the Dominican Republic in the United States. Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.

Bahamas 24 Hours

Passports; birth certificates; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); declaration certifying both parties are unmarried U.S. citizens, sworn before a U.S. Consul at the American Embassy in Nassau; a marriage license from the Commissioner's Office on other islands; proof of arrival in the Islands of the Bahamas.

Both parties must apply in person.

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

Hawaii None

Driver's license or passport; no proof of divorce is necessary, but those who are divorced must be able to provide the date, state, and county (or country) where the divorce was finalized.

Licenses must be filed with the state health department office in Honolulu, or call the department for listings of agents in rural communities. Forms require the names of parents and their places of birth. Both parties must appear in person.

Hawaii's Department of Health marriage licensing office or (808) 586-4544; or The Hawaiian Islands

US Virgin Islands None

Driver's licenses or passports; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); letter accompanying application for marriage stating date of visit, length of stay, and preferred wedding date if having ceremony performed by a judge.

Application must be received at least 2 weeks prior to wedding.

USVI Division of Tourism

Aruba None

Passports; birth certificates; notarized letters of paternal consent if under 21 must be signed by father unless he is deceased; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable).

Registration formalities take about 15 minutes (you both must appear) but paperwork processing takes one working day. Other requirements vary by church.

Aruba Tourism

Fiji None

Passports; birth certificates; notarized letters of paternal consent if under 21 must be signed by father unless he is deceased; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable).

Registration formalities take about 15 minutes (you both must appear) but paperwork processing takes one working day. Other requirements vary by church.

Fiji Visitors Bureau and Fiji Embassy

Italy None

Passports or armed forces ID cards; certified copies of birth certificates; proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse/s (if applicable); declarations "atto notorio" sworn to by four people before an Italian consulate officer attesting that they know of no reason to object to the marriage under the laws of the couple's home country; declaration sworn to by both parties that there are no obstacles to the marriage under U.S. law.Certain documents must be translated into Italian with special "apostille" seals from the secretary of state from the state from which the documents originated.

Additional requirements apply if one of the parties is an Italian citizen or resident of Italy. Requirements may vary by region and city. It is highly recommended that you work with a wedding planner to help you fulfill all requirements properly. A translator may be required to attend the wedding if neither the bride nor the groom speaks Italian.

Italian consulate nearest you; the Italian Government Tourist Board Office; the local U.S. Embassy

France 40 days

Valid U.S. passport, French residence permit, birth certificate, affidavit of marital states, affidavit of law, medical certificate (less than 2 months old).

Civil ceremonies are the only legally binding type of marriage in France and they must take place in the Town hall.

See France US Embassy and France Tourism

Getting Married Overseas? Get Legal Help

Before you start planning your destination wedding and especially before you make any deposits, make sure that you understand the laws and requirements that will apply. It may be easy to find this information about the more famous destinations, but you'll also want to know whether the foreign marriage certificate you receive is valid back home. Your best bet is to speak with an experienced family law attorney near you.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified family law attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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