Getting a Puerto Rican Marriage Certificate
One year ago, the Puerto Rican government changed the process to receive a marriage certificate in Puerto Rico, and most wedding planners and companies across the island have worked to adapt. At the same time, the government implemented a mandatory (mostly) online system that is not at all user-friendly and practically impossible to learn, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
In addition, many websites, even the official government sites, still list incorrect and outdated information about obtaining your marriage certificate in Puerto Rico, which is why we have all the latest here and here.
Over the past year, we have become THE wedding planners and officiants in how to get a Puerto Rico marriage certificate. Proof? We have mailed official marriage certificates to EIGHTY-EIGHT happy couples without any of them having to step foot or call a government office, doctor, or laboratory while on the island. And we have learned a lot!
We’ve also unfortunately heard from a lot of not-so-happy couples who have booked with other wedding planners, officiants, and wedding companies. Many have found themselves in Puerto Rico without a way to get a marriage certificate or be legally married. We’ve had last-minute calls from couples who arrived with all paperwork and waited in long queues at government offices, only to find that the process is all online now. We’ve heard from desperate couples in the hours before their wedding, informed by their wedding planner that the destination wedding rules have changed and they can only do a symbolic ceremony. We’ve had couples who had officiants who went MIA on them when they asked for details and clarification about which labs and doctors to see on the island.
If you want to be legally married in Puerto Rico, it’s very important to talk about your marriage certificate with any Puerto Rico wedding planner or company you consider, before booking. Here is a bit of unofficial advice on how to choose a Puerto Rico wedding planner who can really help you get your marriage certificate:
#5 Be sure the wedding planner has a proven process, it is well-documented, and that you understand all costs and transaction fees involved.
Vague promises that “we can take care of that for you” or “we’ll help” or “don’t worry” are usually just that, vague promises. Our process starts with checklists upon booking, a follow-up phone call to walk through all the details, unlimited phone and email support, automatic reminder emails for relevant dates to submit paperwork, and much more.
#4 How much experience does the officiant or wedding planner have under this system?
How many weddings have they processed for couples under this system over the past year? What kinds of relationships do they have with doctors and with the relevant government offices? Do they have cell phone details for all their contacts, as government offices never answer the phone?
#3 Don’t DIY it.
We know Spanish, the Puerto Rican government system, and so much more, and it even took us 5-6 happy couples to master the process. Learning the glitchy online system required physical visits for technical help to our friends at the government office. Theoretically, one can do everything on the online system, from afar, but try for yourself: www.renovacionesonline.com. If you can figure it out, you have our admiration! An example of a glitch: It seems that only residents of Puerto Rico, Florida or New York can even register at the time of this writing. You’ll still, however, need to visit the offices in person, ten days after your wedding, to obtain your marriage certificate.
#2 Trust your instincts.
Has the officiant or wedding planner you are considering to help with your marriage certificate been responsive and authoritative, providing detailed and knowledgeable answers about the legal process at every step throughout your communications? If not, then they certainly won’t be able to provide the quick answers you need while facing deadlines for the laboratory test the week before your wedding while you are swamped with all the last-minute details for a trip and for your wedding. When you are at your doctor’s office getting a referral for the STD lab tests, who can your doctor call when she has a question? Will they be responsive?
#1 Who will be in charge of your paperwork for your marriage certificate?
Is it a third-party officiant or the wedding planner itself? What privacy guidelines are in place? With identity theft at an all-time high on the island, document management policies such as shredding hard copies as well as encrypting soft copies are very important.
Puerto Rico destination weddings should be beautiful, amazing, and effortless. By following the above advice when choosing a wedding planner and company who can help with your marriage certificate in Puerto Rico, you can truly have a stress-free day. Contact us for more details!
Photos: AJR Photo Studio
Check out some of our recent blog posts about the process to be legally married in Puerto Rico: