Getting the Marriage License in Puerto Rico
Trust me, it’s easy.
I know the idea of going to some government office on an island hundreds of miles away sounds hard/mysterious/stressful.
But I’m going to demystify the process.
I’m going to walk you, step-by-step through the process of getting your marriage license here in Puerto Rico. And I’ll hold your hand (metaphorically or literally if you are into that) from start to finish.
So here are the steps to getting the marriage license in Puerto Rico:
1. Make sure you bring the proper documents when you come to Puerto Rico – birth certificates, divorce decrees, death certificates, driver’s licenses or passports.
2. Obtain a medical waiver or certification from a doctor in your state indicating you’ve met all required medical tests, if any.
3. Have an affidavit prepared by a lawyer on island attesting that you’re only in Puerto Rico for a visit.
4. Visit the marriage license office in the county where you’re getting married on island.
5. Have a licensed minister perform the wedding ceremony and file the documents.
6. Order certified copies of your marriage license.
Before we jump into the particulars, I’d like to address a couple of questions up front.
Is a wedding or marriage in Puerto Rico legal in the United States?
It sure is. Our little island is a United States Territory. Which means we are treated no different than any other state or territory in the union. So getting married in Puerto Rico is as legally binding as if you were married at your local courthouse.
And you don’t have to do anything further once you are married here. It’s legal. It’s official. It’s done. For better or worse. Hopefully better. Until death. Or you both hire attorneys. Let’s not talk about that.
Fun Fact: My wife recently shared with me that Puerto Rico is about the size of Connecticut and bigger than both Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Mind blown.
Are blood tests required for a marriage license in Puerto Rico?
No. At least not if you are coming here to visit. Visitors and travels are exempt from any requirements for blood testing.
EXCEPTION: If you come from a state that requires a blood test, then you must get a blood test in your state and bring the results with you to Puerto Rico.
Only a few states require them (I’ve got a link to the state requirements below). Please double check your state’s requirements as laws can change.
On the other hand, if you are a resident here on the island you had better not be too afraid of needles.
Can I bring a marriage license from my home state?
Only if you are from Texas. Texas is the only state in the US that allows the marriage to occur outside of the state and be performed by an out-of-state minister.
So if you live in Texas and you want to save a few bucks and some time on your vacation, contact your local county court in Texas and let them know I sent you.
God Bless Texas. (Click the link for a sample county from Texas which states that the marriage can be performed anywhere. Again, if you are going this route, you must contact your local county court and explain that you want to get married in Puerto Rico by a licensed Puerto Rican Minister or Officiant. You’ll want them to verify this is permitted.)
Is there a waiting period to get the marriage license in Puerto Rico?
No. You can arrive in Puerto Rico in the morning and get married the same day.
Ok, now on to the details.
Documents to bring with you for marriage license
1. Certified copies or originals of your birth certificates
If you asked me to find a copy of my birth certificate I would be at a loss. I’m quite certain in a box somewhere in my parent’s basement in Cleveland, Ohio is a worn, slightly stained 40 year-old copy of my birth certificate. But you don’t need to call your parents or start rummaging through the Christmas lights and grade school year books to find yours.
Unless you know exactly where to find it, just contact the local records department in the city or county where you were born. It can take a few phone calls…but by the power of the Internet you should be able to have a copy ordered in 10-15 minutes.
Easy. Cross one thing off your list.
2. Certified divorce decree
If either of you was previously married, you’ll need to bring certified copies of your most recent divorce decree (if multiple).
Certified copy means the divorce decree has a raised seal or a wet signature. And don’t worry, if you don’t have a certified copy all you need to do is go to the clerk of courts where the divorce was finalized and they’ll have it ready in a few minutes. Or, if you don’t live close to the courthouse you can call them and order it over the phone.
3. Certified death certificate
If your previous marriage ended because of a death, you’ll need a certified copy of the death certificate.
Vital records where your spouse passed away will issue the certified copies.
4. Photo Identification
You’ll need to bring some sort of government issued ID when you come to the courthouse. A driver’s license or passport is your best bet.
And make sure it is current!
The Medical Certification
A few states in the United States require blood testing or other medical testing before getting married. A copy of that chart is here: Medical Requirements Chart.
If your state does not require a blood test, you’ll need to get a letter from a medical doctor in your state. That letter should say that your state does not have a blood test or other medical requirement for getting married.
It should be on the letterhead of the physician.
Please Note: The letter must be dated. And that letter must be presented within 10 days to the Puerto Rican marriage license office. So you’ll need to time your doctor’s visit in the days before your travel.
Once you visit Puerto Rico there’s a good change you’ll want to move here. Or better yet, you might even want to cancel your return flight and never leave the island. And I would ordinarily encourage you to do so. The island life is a good life.
But before you decide to burn your boarding passes you’ll need to swear an oath that you are not a resident of Puerto Rico and that you are only visiting the island as a tourist or vacationer.
The letter has to be drawn up by a lawyer in Puerto Rico. The document is simple and shouldn’t take more than a 10-15 minute visit. Particularly if you bring the exact wording required. If I had to guess it will cost around $50-$60.
All my wedding packages include this cost. So your driver will take you to an attorney’s office and the paperwork will be ready to go.
You can also choose to get this part out of the way before you visit. You’ll want to go to a licensed attorney and have them draw it up. The cost may vary but I’ll credit your package $50.
If you decide to get the affidavit done back home, it must be dated within 10 days of your application for the marriage license.
The body of the sworn statement must say:
(Groom’s Name) and (Bride’s Name), will be visiting Puerto Rico for the purpose of getting married as part of a destination wedding and tourism only, from (Arrival Date) to (Departure Date). They will not stay in Puerto Rico for more time than what is legally specified and required in the permission to enter a United States territory.
Groom’s Signature Bride’s Signature
State Bar Number
Stamp/Seal of Attorney
Here it is so you can print if off and bring it with you to the lawyer’s office.
the Marriage License office in San Juan
Every county in Puerto Rico has it’s own marriage license office. A list of the offices is here: List of Puerto Rico Marriage License Offices (aka Demographic Registry Office).
For San Juan, the marriage license office is located at:
Centro Gubernamental Roberto Sánchez Vilella (Minillas)Avenida José de Diego, San Juan, 00912, Puerto Rico
Here it is on Google Maps:
In most instances your visit should be around 30 minutes.
If you choose one of my wedding packages I’ll have your driver drop you off and then he’ll be waiting for you when you finish.
And that’s it! You’re ready to get married.
Get legally Married
To make this whole thing legal you’ll need a couple things:
1. A Licensed Minister
Getting ordained online is all the rage these days. And I have much love for my online minister brothers and sisters. But to perform a wedding here in Puerto Rico you must be a licensed by the local government. So unless you are dying to have your best friend, uncle, cousin or grandpappy perform the ceremony, it’s best to work with a local wedding minister.
But if you are in fact dead set on having a family member or friend perform the ceremony, they’ll need to bring a copy of their ordination papers and a copy of their church or organization’s articles of incorporation in Puerto Rico (so basically that means whatever church or organization ordained them has to be incorporated in Puerto Rico).
Most large online ordination organizations and churches are incorporated in Puerto Rico but you’ll need to verify.
If all that sounds too complicated you can still have your family member or friend perform the ceremony, but it must be witnessed and signed off by a licensed minister here in Puerto Rico. Someone like yours truly. 🙂
After the ceremony, the marriage license must be returned to the Demographic Registry Office within 10 days.
2. Two Witnesses
2 adult witnesses (that hopefully paid attention and are relatively sober) need to sign the marriage documents.
Boom. You are married.
Since Puerto Rico is a US Territory, the United States Constitution applies. Therefore, when the US Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in Obergefell v. Hodges, they also became legal in Puerto Rico.
Get Your Copies
Once you get back home you’ll probably be anxious to get started on things – getting your name changed, adding your spouse to your insurance, changing driver’s licenses, etc.
Getting your license couldn’t be easier. You’ll order as many copies as you like from VitalChek.
I recommend getting at least 2 certified copies.
Anyhow, that’s how the whole thing works. A little bit of planning ahead and you’ll be good to go when you get here. And if you decide you’d like to work with me, I’ll be your guide through the process.
If you have any questions, please don’t think twice about reaching out:
A less excited and more legalistic list of requirements can be found here: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico – Health Department.