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VOWS Weddings in Puerto Vallarta - The Marriage Legalities

Is a Mexican marriage legal?

Absolutely! Getting married in Mexico is as legal as getting married at home, it's just a lot more romantic! However, you need to know the local laws and regulations to ensure your Mexican marriage is legally recognized in Mexico and other countries. But don't panic, Vallarta Original Weddings can help guide you through the paperwork.


There are several types of ceremonies that can be performed, but only the civil ceremony is legally recognized. You don't have to have a religious ceremony, but if you choose to do so, you must first have a civil ceremony or the marriage will not be legal.


The Civil Ceremony (Matrimonio Civil) is performed by a civil judge or justice of the peace of the Registro Civil office in the local jurisdiction for your wedding. It can be performed anywhere in the judge's jurisdiction. After the ceremony, the judge's office will issue a marriage certificate (Acta de Matrimonio) which is recognized by the Mexican government as well as the governments in most countries. You should also have your certificate "legalized" in Mexico. This is the reverse process of having your documents legalized by the necessary authorities for your marriage in Mexico.


Mexican law requires you choose which type of union you want -


Legal Society - Whereby everything both parties bring to the marriage, as well as what they accumulate after the marriage, is split 50/50 upon dissolution of the marriage


Separation of Goods - Whereby everything you bring into the marriage remains yours and everything your partner brings into remains theirs. Everything accumulated after the marriage is split 50/50 upon dissolution of the marriage. This is similar to a prenuptial agreement.


Civil Ceremony Documentation
The following documentation is required if you wish to be married legally in Mexico. All documents must be translated into Spanish. Original documents will need to be notarized by your nearest Mexican Consulate and "legalized" in the country where you reside.


  • The legalization process differs by country of citizenship. Your wedding consultant can advise you how to get it done in the country where you reside.
  • Original birth certificate (or certified copies) with attached annotation
  • Copies (2) of valid driver's licenses
  • Mandatory Prenuptial Video Briefing and Certificate of Atendance* (Required in the State of Jalisco (Puerto Vallarta) but not the State of Nayarit (Nuevo Vallarta))
  • If divorced, the original or certified copy of your divorce decree with attached annotation
  • If widowed, the death certificate of the deceased spouse
  • Blood tests with doctor's health certificate (must be done in Mexico 2 to 3 days prior to wedding date)
  • Copies (2) of full passports
  • Copies (2) of tourist cards (issued upon arrival in Mexico)
  • Witnesses (4) - 2 each for bride and groom. Witnesses may not be parents or grandparents of the bride or groom. If witnesses are not available, they will be provided for you by your wedding coordinator.
  • Witnesses must provide copies (2) of either a passport or original or certified copy of their birth certificate, tourist card and driver's license
  • Marriage application forms will be provided by your wedding consultant with a translation into English. The license fee is approximately $30 USD. There is no waiting period in Jalisco or Nayarit.


* Effective 3/1/2002 Prenuptial Briefing is mandatory for all couples, both Mexican and foreign, wishing to be married in Mexico. Presentation video is conducted on Wednesday in English and on Friday in Spanish. All couples must be physically present in Puerto Vallarta prior to the wedding so they can attend the briefing. After the briefing, the couple must complete a questionnaire. They will then receive a Certificate of Attendance of Prenuptial Briefing. This certificate must be included in the documents presented to the Registro Civil office when applying for the license. Without the Certificate of Attendance, the couple will not be permitted to get a license to marry. Therefore, it is critical to comply with these rules.


**According to Mexican law, the blood tests must be performed in Mexico


All marriage certificates remain on file with the Registro Civil office for 25 years, during which time you may request a certified copy.


Vallarta Original Weddings will adhere strictly to all laws, rules and regulations pertaining to legal marriages in Mexico. There will be NO exceptions!


Current Mexican Marriage Laws


  • To marry without parental consent, individuals must be at least 18 years of age. With parental consent, boys must be at least 16 years of age and girls, at least 14 years of age.
  • If one or both parties is a Mexican National, permission must be obtained from the Secretaria de Gobernacion - Oficina de Migracion in the jurisdiction where you will be married, which may require several months and costs around $200 USD. Non-Mexicans do not need permission.
  • Previously married individuals must provide proof of a legal divorce accompanied by the "Apostille Protocol" or a death certificate, if the spouse is deceased. If the death took place outside of Mexico, the death certificate must be authenticated and translated into Spanish.
  • Divorced individuals may not marry in Mexico until 1 year after the divorce is final
  • Before a couple may be married in the church, they must have been married under civil law by a judge. The civil ceremony does not have to be performed in Mexico, but authenticated proof of the marriage must be presented.



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