how to marry a peruvian
I married my wife, Pilar, in 2005 in Lima, Peru and to my surprise there was not a whole lot of information available on the web about how a US Citizen goes about getting married to a Peruvian citizen in Peru. Still today, there seems to be a steady stream of people asking advice on where to start when getting married in Peru, so I’ve created this page…maybe it will help you. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below.
I have received many letters from very thankful people for this page since I put it up five years ago and some have asked what they can do to thank me for this information. While this page is free to view (and always will be) please feel free to help offset some of the hosting costs for my website by donating any amount you wish:
First and foremost, this is a personal account of what my wife and I had to do in order to get married, so ymmv (your millage may vary). In other words, your local government may be slightly different as may be the local government in the part of Peru in which you are getting married. In our situation, I was living in the US while my wife was still in Peru (though this should still be useful for those living outside of the US), so this will be most helpful for couples where the person marrying the Peruvian is currently living in the US, UK or Canada. If you are both living in Peru, this process will be much quicker and easier and a lot of this information may not apply. I was fortunate enough to live within a half hour of the Peruvian consulate in Washington, DC and went there in person to complete all of this. If it is not practical for you to travel to a consulate office, this will all have to be done by mail which will add a few weeks to your time line. The whole process took us about three months in total. Looking back, it was not as easy as it could have been, mainly due to lack of information available in 2005…but it could have been a lot worse, I suppose.
What to expect:
What you’ll need:
- Affidavit of Single Status (Certificado de solteria) with official translation. You are probably asking yourself what this is and where you get it. I didn’t know either and Googled it to death until I was told by Arlington county that there is no such official form and you need to make it yourself. This affidavit is just a sworn statement saying that you are single and that any divorce in your past is final and that you are eligible to marry. Feel free to use my home made affidavit: Microsoft Word version is here, or plain text here. Do not pay a lawyer or any legal service one cent to do a Single Status Affidavit! There is no “official” form and anyone who tries to sell you one or charge you to type one up is simply taking advantage of you and taking your money!!! Use mine or any other one you find on the internet for free. Note: if you are divorced, you will also need an official copy of your divorce papers to submit with your paperwork. Also of note, no one ever checked that I was never married – they basically verified that I agreed that what I said on the affidavit was true, but they never actually looked into it to verify that it was true.
- Original copy (not a photocopy) of your Birth Certificate, with official translation. You’ll need to contact the Office of Vital Records of the state in which you were born to order an official copy of your birth certificate. Search Google for “[your state of birth] birth certificates” (i.e. “California birth certificates”) to find the website of your birth state’s vital records office. I ordered two just in case something happened to the one I mailed to Peru. These copies only cost me about $15 total, including postage, beware of private companies that charge much more for this same service. Note: a photocopy of your birth certificate is not acceptable.
- A notarized photocopy of your passport. Make a black and white photocopy of the biographical page of your passport, then take it and the passport to a notary, have them compare them and notarize that the photocopy contains the same information and is an unaltered copy. Again, I had two copies made and notarized, just in case.
- The “Carta poder fuera de registro”. This is a form that the Peruvian consulate will give you. It is a power of attorney form that you sign that gives your spouse-to-be the authority to do all the necessary paperwork in Peru on your behalf.
- Your fiance’s information. Their name, address, date of birth, occupation and DNI number
- Witnesses. You’ll need four people to witness your wedding. These are usually friends and/or family, but can be anyone who witnessed the wedding.
How to do it:
- To start, you’ll need to print and fill out the Affidavit of Single Status with your information.
- Take this to your local county courthouse records department to have it notarized. I was told to do this at my courthouse because I thought that they would check their records to see if I was ever married, but they never did.
- Get the notarized Affidavit notarized. For some reason, I had to go to a different floor of the courthouse and have another person notarize the fact that the person who notarized my Affidavit was legally able to notarize it and current on their license. This was done by attaching a small piece of paper to my notarized Affidavit with its own stamp on it.
- Legalize your documents at the consulate. The next step is to take your papers (affidavit and copy of passport) to the Peruvian consulate to have them put their stamps on it. This process is called “legalization” and is basically a way of the consulate getting paid for their services. You do not need an appointment, but waiting times can be quite long if you catch them on a busy day. The cost of everything came to under $100. Tip: Bring everything, even if you don’t think you’ll need it. I thought I brought everything I needed to the consulate and didn’t bring my passport which I didn’t think I’d need – I needed it. At this point, you can pick up the Carta poder fuera de registro. Also, you’ll probably make an appointment for an interview to be seen by someone who asks you about the marriage and your fiancee.
- The interview. I went back to the consulate about a week later and leagalized the completed Carta poder fuera de registro. I was also interviewed for about 15 minutes as they want to be sure that the marriage is legitimate.
- Send the documents to Peru. Send the Carta poder fuera de registro, copy of your passport, copy of your birth certificate and the affidavit. I used DHL and sent them overnight, which cost about $70, just to be safe. I made copies (front and back) of everything that I sent and luckily they arrived intact the next afternoon! Make sure you do not send these via regular mail and use a service that provides a tracking number.
- Translate the documents from English to Spanish. The affidavit and the copy of your birth certificate will need to be translated by a certified translator. Luckily, the documents can be translated in Peru. This is good as using a professional translator for even small, one page documents here in the US is not cheap and can cost several hundred dollars. Have this done in Peru, where it costs much less. Here is a recomendation for a translator from an American in Lima who’s had to do this. Note: according to the translator, the documents will need to go the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima to have them stamped again befrore they can be translated.
- Fill out some forms in Peru. The good news: your part is done (for now), and you can relax and practice making your pisco sours. The bad news: the person you are marrying has many long lines at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Lima, local courthouses and cashiers offices to look forward to over the next few weeks while he/she sorts everything out in Peru.
- Announce your marriage. A wedding announcement with both parties names must be made in a newspaper two weeks before the wedding (save this as the entire page of the newspaper with your announcement must be brought to the courthouse).
- Travel to Peru. You’ll need to be in the city you plan on being married in at least three business days before your planned wedding date to take care of the paperwork.
- Get a blood test. There is a mandatory HIV and blood type test for both parties, which can be done at any clinic a few days before the wedding. Bring the results to the courthouse.
- Fill out some more forms in Peru. A few days before the civil wedding, you’ll need to complete a few forms as a couple and get fingerprinted at the courthouse.
- Get hitched! The day of the wedding should go smoothly if you’ve done everything correctly. Our ceremony was about half an hour long and was very nicely done. The judge was bilingual and the court even gave us a small present at the end!
Streets of Lima – Ben is an American who has lived in Lima, Peru and writes a daily blog about his experiences there. Check out How to Get Married in Peru for an account of what he had to do to get married. This will be helpful for those of you who are living in Peru currently.
Immigrate2us.net – A good resource for people who, like us, are unfortunate enough to also have legal/visa problems along with the wedding planning.
Peruvian consulates in the US – The official site of Peruvian consulates spread throughout the United States, you’ll need to use the office that is assigned to your state. The site is in Spanish, but there is a list of the consulates with phone numbers and addresses here. Don’t be affraid to call, the person answering the phone will be able to speak English!
Peruvian consulate in England – Peruvian consulate in England, also in Spanish.
Peruvian consulates in Canada – Peruvian consulates in Canada, also in Spanish.
(A common misconception is that you go to embassies to do this type of stuff, when you’ll actually be dealing with your local Peruvian consulate.)
United States Embassy, Lima – For people from the US wanting to marry in Peru. Unfortunately, not a lot of useful information.
British Embassy, Lima – For people from the UK wanting to marry in Peru. Again, not a whole lot of info, but more than the US Embassy site. Also if you’re a Briton, you’ll want to check out this post on Streets of Lima.
Canadian Embassy, Lima – For people from Canada wanting to marry in Peru. Some good info there, eh?