How to Get Legally Married in Puerto Rico and Plan Your PR Wedding
Whether you're looking for an oceanfront destination wedding or a memorable elopement, Puerto Rico is a magical option for both local residents and out-of-town couples alike. That's because "Puerto Rico is known for beach weddings and historic landmark weddings," explained Irene Alvarez, Director of Catering and Event Management at La Concha Resort in San Juan. "Given its history and Caribbean location, this U.S. territory makes for a domestic wedding with an international destination feel."
For the most part, obtaining a marriage license in Puerto Rico is a fairly stress-free process, especially if you are a United States resident. If you are planning a Puerto Rico destination wedding or are a local resident getting ready for your nuptials, we've got you covered when it comes to planning your wedding from how to change your name and what marriage requirements to be aware of to how to find the best vendors. Here's exactly what you need to know about how to obtain a Puerto Rico marriage license—before your wedding date.
How to Get Married in Puerto Rico
Whether you're getting married far from home or around the corner, ensuring that you are following all of the legal steps can feel daunting. Luckily, the Puerto Rico marriage license process isn't too complicated as long as you know exactly what to bring—and when you have to bring it. We're here to break it down, step by step, for your wedding-planning convenience.
Is there a waiting period to get married in Puerto Rico?
For residents of Puerto Rico as well as the United States, there is no waiting period.
What are the legal requirements to get married in Puerto Rico?
Before your wedding ceremony, you must first get a marriage license from the Demographic Registrar's Office. In order to be granted one, you must show a valid government-issued photo ID, like a passport or a driver's license. The photo identification also needs to be current—anything expired won't work. Each applicant must also have a copy of their birth certificate.
Next up is getting medical certification—each person must be deemed healthy and bring a letter from his or her doctor (or certified nurse practitioner) with them to the Demographic Registry. The letter must be on the doctor's letterhead or prescription pad, state that you are medically approved to get married based on your place of residence's requirements. It should also include whether or not your home state requires blood work and be dated within 10 days prior to your wedding ceremony.
If one or both parties is Puerto Rican, both must have blood tests done. However, for US citizens, this is only necessary if your home state requires it. If either party is under the age of 21 years old, a parent or garden must accompany them to the Demographic Registry Office.
For the wedding itself, in addition to a marriage license, you also must have a registered officiant marry you in order for it to be considered legal. However, you can have a friend or loved one marry you if you also hire someone who can serve as the Officiant of Record on the legal documentation.
What's considered a common law marriage in Puerto Rico?
In Puerto Rico, a common law marriage is not recognized, explained Alvarez, no matter how long the couple has been living or even filling taxes together.
Puerto Rico Marriage License 101
Once you have decided to get married in Puerto Rico—and confirmed that you are legally eligible, you'll want to head to the local County Clerk's Office to apply for a marriage license for the wedding ceremony. Here's everything you need to know about that process.
What do you need to get a marriage license in Puerto Rico?
In order to be granted a Puerto Rican marriage license, the couple must bring the following with them to the demographic registry: photo identification (a driver's license or passport works), birth certificates, medical certification and an Internal Revenue stamp. This can be purchased at a government office for $150. If either spouse has been previously married, you'll also need to bring the original copies of the divorce decrees and if they are a widow, you will also need to bring his or her former spouse's death certificate.
If this is a destination wedding, you must also have an affidavit of intention, which states that you traveled to Puerto Rico specifically to get married and that you will be returning to your place of residence after the wedding. This sworn statement must be prepared within 10 days prior to the wedding and can be obtained from a lawyer or a notary public, with certification from the County Clerk.
What does a Puerto Rico marriage license cost?
Getting a marriage license in Puerto Rico will cost you $150 as you need to purchase an IRS stamp that you submit with your documents.
How long does it take to get a marriage license in Puerto Rico?
According to Alvarez, it usually takes about three days to get your marriage license.
Can you apply for a marriage license online in Puerto Rico?
You are not able to apply online and instead must present all of your documents for review in person.
How do you get a copy of your Puerto Rico marriage license?
After the wedding ceremony, you and your spouse must sign the marriage license and your officiant must file the completed paperwork (within 10 days of the wedding) at the Demographic Registry of the municipality where the ceremony took place.
Then, after three weeks, you can apply online for a copy of your marriage certificate or request one in person from the Demographic Office.
How to Plan a Puerto Rico Wedding
For a smoother experience, David Silva, Director of Catering and Events at Condado Vanderbilt in San Juan highly suggests working with a trusted wedding planner. "They can take care of all the above requirements in just one step," he explained. But to help get the process started, we're here to help give you some direction when it comes to the best vendors in Puerto Rico.
The Different Cities and Areas to Consider for a Puerto Rico Wedding
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, you'll find the beach plus cool hotels, historic landmarks and creative cuisine, explained Silva. "Not to mention, the capital city is easily accessible—a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami or four hours from New York—and U.S.visitors don't even have to pack a passport."
What to Look For in a Puerto Rico Wedding Venue
As you consider different options for where exactly to get married in Puerto Rico, Alvarez says the most important thing is that the wedding venue is aligned with the vision that you have for your wedding—whether it's an elopement, intimate gathering or large celebration. "It's hard to find a venue in San Juan without a view," she said. After that, "all other details are secondary."
And according to Silva, one of the most popular aspects for destination weddings in Puerto Rico is hosting your ceremony either on the beach or at least waterfront, where you can enjoy ocean views so make sure to scope out the different potential vistas.
The Best Times of Year to Have a Puerto Rico Wedding for Good Weather
When it comes to getting married in Puerto Rico, there is no "best" time of year, according to Silva—the answer is year-round. "Winters are warm and beautiful," he explained. "Even in the summer months, we have lovely trade winds."