Find out about the legal requirements and necessary documents for getting married in Colombia...
In Colombia it is possible to have a marriage under civil law or a religious ceremony.
Civil ceremonies are conducted in a notary office (notario). The documents required by the authority may vary from region to region, and indeed from office to office. The Portal de Notarías has contact details for notary offices in Colombia.
In general the following documents are required for most civil ceremonies:
- Completed Marriage Application form (Solicitud de Matrimonio) obtained from the notary
- Birth certificate (translated into Spanish, affixed with an Apostille and no more that 90 days old)
- Divorce certificate if applicable (translated into Spanish, affixed with an Apostille)
- Widowers must provide a death certificate (translated into Spanish, affixed with an Apostille)
- Copy of personal details page of passport and current visa stamp
- Proof that you are not already married (a personal declaration notarised in the home country or official documentation such as a Certificate of No Impediment, if applicable)
Once the application has been filed, the notary office publishes an edicto, to ensure that no-one has objections to the marriage taking place. Following this the couple can set a date and a location for the wedding, if it is not being carried out at the notary office itself.
Experiences may differ but civil ceremonies are usually able to be conducted as little as five days after the initial application period subject to availability. Couples are invited to attend early on the day of the wedding to pay the notary fees and verify the official documents. After signing, copies of the legal documents are made available within days.
In order to get married in a Catholic Church in Colombia, as well as having all the legal notarised documents, it is necessary to fulfil certain requirements as a Christian.
Specific churches may differ, but the most common requirements required for official religious marriage in a Catholic Church include:
- Original copy of baptism certificate (notarised and an Apostille affixed)
- Character letters from two separate witnesses stating you are not married and the status of your children (if applicable)
- Letter from the parish that you belong to (notarised)
- Conformation certificate from the parish (notarised)
- Marriage course (Curso Prematrimonial) completion certificate
Registering the marriage must be done at a public notary any time after the wedding. The Catholic marriage certificate and identification for both parties is required.
Traditional Colombian marriages are very floral with the flowers on the bride symbolising purity. Before the wedding the groom surprises his bride-to-be with a serenade and the priest blesses the couple.
For the wedding the bride wears a lace or silk shawl and veil called a mantilla. The couple perform the candle ceremony whereby they both light a candle and use both to light a single candle before extinguishing their own. This represents the joining together of the two people.
After the ceremony the husband gives 13 coins to his bride which symbolises the sharing of his wealth. The number is symbolic of Jesus and the 12 disciples.
Other wedding customs include the belt tradition where the men compare the length of their belts (with the longest winning), and the shoe tradition where all the single men put a shoe under the bride's dress and she picks one at random. The owner of the shoe is the next to marry.