If you’ve decided to tie the knot and are dreaming of Mexico for a destination wedding or if you’re living in Mexico and want to know how to go about it, this article is for you.
There is a lot to consider when planning for any wedding. Having good information about the process and requirements for getting married in Mexico will help you have realistic expectations about timelines, paperwork and the patience necessary to make your dream wedding possible.
If you’re dreaming of getting married in Mexico, know that Mexico has 3 different types of weddings:
- Civil (or legal)
- Catholic or religious
Depending on your needs, the process is going to be different for each type of wedding.
Most Mexicans have a civil ceremony followed by a religious ceremony.
If you want to be legally married, many couples opt to do their legal ceremony in their home country and then come to Mexico for a symbolic wedding. Think friends, family, sunshine, beach, cocktails. This is by far the simplest option.
However, if you want to be legally married in Mexico, it is possible whether you are both foreigners or if one partner is Mexican. Since 2015, same-sex couples may also legally marry in Mexico. Foreigners may find the application process confusing and bureaucratic, but a little patience will go a long way.
In order to be legally married in Mexico, if you are both foreigners, you may get married with your passports, tourist visas and a minimum amount of paperwork.
If one of you is Mexican, you may need to apply for a foreign marriage permit. You will have to check this with the municipality where you will be married. Then you will request the permit from Mexico’s Interior Ministry from the state where you plan on getting married if it is required in your state. This process can take up to two weeks so if you are not planning on being in Mexico for this long, you should have a wedding planner go through this process on your behalf.
Paperwork to Provide for a Civil (Legal) Wedding
You will visit the local registry office and they will provide you with the list of documents for your municipality. Some requirements can vary from state to state. Generally, you will be required to provide the following:
- marriage application forms from the local registry office
- foreign marriage permit if required by your municipality
- valid passports and copies of each
- birth certificates
- visitor permit or resident permit
- if you’ve been married, divorce decree or death certificate
- blood test results, performed in Mexico no more than 14 days before the application date (must be done in Mexico)
- chest x-rays performed in Mexico, if applicable
Plan ahead of time to have all of your foreign documents translated into Spanish, notarised at your Mexican consulate and Apostilled by the corresponding agency in your home country. They must have an Apostille stamp that authenticates them. The process for obtaining the Apostille is different in different countries. In the U.S., the Office of the Secretary of State provides apostille service. Global Affairs Canada provides authentication for Canadian documents. Having this done is key to a smooth process.
If you’re under 18, you may not get married without parental consent. Boys as young as 16 and girls as young as 14 may get married with parental consent.
Civil Wedding Process
Once all of the paperwork is filed at the local registry office, you will pay the marriage license fee and then wait for your application to be processed. Wait times depend on locations, sometimes between 30 minutes to a few days.
For the legal ceremony, you will need to have 4 witnesses with valid i.d.’s. You may get married at the local registry office or usually, for a fee, you can have the ceremony moved to another location… like the beach.
After the ceremony, you will need to get the certified copy of the marriage certificate, acta de matrimonio. If you have a need for this marriage certificate abroad, it is a good idea to go ahead and get it Apostilled in Mexico. Ask where to do this at the local registry. It will need to be done in the state where you were married.
If you are considering a religious ceremony, certain religions may require additional paperwork. Check with your minister for these formalities. A Catholic ceremony does require additional paperwork and is often a longer, more bureaucratic process. However, as with location, the civil judge who performs the legal ceremony may be flexible and allow a simple religious aspect to be added to the ceremony.
For a civil wedding, you are required to arrive 3 business days before the ceremony. You should arrive by noon on the 1st day for that day to count. For symbolic ceremonies, you should arrive 2 business days before the ceremony also by noon on the first day for that day to count.
Fees Associated with the Civil Ceremony
- Marriage license: approx. $600 MXN
- Apostille per document: approx. $20 USD in the States, authentication in Canada is free
- Apostille in Mexico for your marriage certificate: $730MXN
- Foreign marriage permit, if required: approx. $3500 MXN
- Cost of blood tests (and chest x-rays if applicable)
When planning a symbolic ceremony, you have a lot of freedom to create your dream wedding. You don’t have the hassle of extra paperwork or blood tests. You can easily hire a wedding planner to assist with designing the ceremony, reserving accommodations, planning meals, flowers, decorations and even helping you reserve tours and activities for your group. A non-denominational minister, officiant, friend or relative may perform the wedding. A symbolic ceremony is not recognized as a legal wedding.
Many people decide on a Mexico destination wedding because it is said that a luxury wedding can cost a fraction of what it would cost back home. Without flights or accommodations, it is generally thought that weddings can cost between $5000-$10,000 USD.
Many couples decide to get married at the courthouse back at home and have a symbolic wedding ceremony in Mexico. Any way you decide to do it is possible. It just takes a little more planning to get married legally in Mexico. In any case, a wedding planner will be a tremendous help to make your day special for you and your guests.