Marrying a Peruvian in Peru is a fairly straightforward task for a foreigner, but you need to get a clear sense of the steps, and you need to get your paperwork in order.
The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of wedding ceremonies in Peru – the civil ceremony and the religious ceremony. The religious ceremony is optional, legally speaking, and different religions will have their own requirements. The Catholic church, for example, requires the following of the bride and groom:
- Birth Certificate
- Certificate of Baptism (legalized by the Archbishopric)
- Certificate of Confirmation (legalized by the Archbishopric)
- Prior counselling sessions
- Proclamation of intent of marriage (Proclama) to be read out in the respective parrish
- Four friends (who are not family) who testify that the marriage is voluntary
- Proof that the civil ceremony is being arranged and will be completed before the religious ceremony
- Pay a fee
We want to reiterate that that you cannot hold a religious ceremony until you have your civil marriage certificate. Now, some brave souls try to do both on the same day, but we recommend against this. You should break it up: Civil ceremony one day, and the religious ceremony the next.
The Civil Marriage in Peru: Requirements
The civil ceremony is performed, recorded and recognised by a government official from the municipality where you choose to marry. During the ceremony, the official will speak of the value of the institution of marriage, and will lay out the legal responsibilities of both the husband and the wife (as of date of writing, same sex marriage is still not possible in Peru). The civil marriage is the ceremony that makes you legally married in the eyes of Peru and in the rest of the world.
While the paperwork for the civil ceremony isn’t overly complicated, it might require you make arrangements in your home country beforehand, so, forewarned is forearmed. Remember that rules can change from day to day and from district to district, so while the steps we lay out below are what is usually required of most people, you should always double check and confirm with the municipality where you’re getting married before submitting your paperwork.
The following 4 items are necessary:
Birth certificate- The birth certificate must be original, and it has to be apostilled and/or legalized by the ministry of foreign affairs, department of state or the Peruvian consulate that has jurisdiction over the place from which the birth certificate was issued. Preferably, it should have been issued approximately 3-6 months before submitting your paperwork.
Certificado de soltería– The certificado de soltería is a certified document that states you are not currently married in your home country. There are several ways to do this, depending on where you’re from. For example, no such government-issued document exists in the United States, but you can get an affidavit affirming that you are not married at the U.S. embassy in Peru. If your home country does not have an embassy in Peru, you might have to travel or ask someone back home to help you obtain this document on your behalf.
Just like the birth certificate, the certificado de soltería also needs to be apostilled and/or legalized. You can try to get this done at your embassy in Peru, but again, check ahead of time if this is something that can be done, and if the municipality will accept it. It will also be necessary to have both the birth certificate and the certificado de soltería translated by an official translator here in Peru.
Identification- Most foreigners use their passports as a form of identification. If you’re already a resident in Peru, you can also use your Carné de Extranjería.
If you are a naturalized U.S. citizen, a copy of your Certificate of Citizenship and Naturalization might be necessary.
Medical exam- The medical exam, also known as Certificado Prenupcial, is very straightforward. Basically, it’s nothing more than drawing blood and testing for HIV/AIDS, Syphilis, and other STIs. You can pay for this at the municipality, and they will tell you a clinic to go to. Some clinics, like the one in Miraflores, have a cashier where you can pay for the exam, saving you a trip to the municipality.
Keep in mind that both partners should go together to get their blood drawn. You will most likely be seen by a doctor, who may perform a quick exam and/or ask you if you have any health problems. This doctor may also give you a “sex talk” or prenuptial counseling, which is required by law as part of the medical exam. The thoroughness of the exam seems to vary from district to district. Most people report that they receive the results of the blood test the next day, although some may have to wait a day or two longer.
Once you have all the paperwork together, you can take everything to the municipal building of your district, pick your wedding date (according to availability), and pay for the ceremony. Don’t forget, you’ll need 2-4 witnesses, depending on the requirements of your district, and the witnesses must have legal identification with them – a passport, Carné de Extranjería, or DNI. They have to go with you and your partner at the time of submitting the paperwork, and appear on the day of the marriage to sign the certificate. Be sure that you choose people you can rely upon, because if they don’t show up, the ceremony won’t happen. Some people try to choose close friends as their witnesses, but bear in mind that they need to appear on two separate occasions, and these dates could be weeks and months apart (just in case you were thinking of having someone from abroad serve in this role).
In some cases, you may also be required to post a marriage announcement that runs for 7 days on a local newspaper, and gives anyone with due cause fair warning and a chance to speak out against your upcoming nuptials.
Once all these requirements have been met, you’ll be ready to say “I do!”