Want to get married somewhere that’s not home? Maybe you don’t want your entire extended family of third cousins present, or maybe you’re part of the LGBT community and you can’t legally wed in your home country. Argentina could be a good option, particularly for Spanish speakers or those willing to hire interpreters. The matrimonio igualitario (marriage equality) covers everyone whether a citizen or not. Once married and you’ve gotten your documents “legalized” or stamped for foreign validity, your marriage will be recognized in whatever country you may live or work in that has equal marriage rights. Example, a Chilean friend was going to live in Germany for several years. The only way to bring her partner with her for an extended stay without applying for a visa was to get married. Since gay marriage is legit in Germany, this worked for them – even though in their home country of Chile it is not yet recognized. This is changing here, with the recent passage of civil unions for gay and straight alike, but that’s a different article.
The paperwork can be confusing though, so my future wife and I went to Mendoza recently to find out which bureaucratic hoops we had to jump through. This is Latin America after all. We went to speak with the folks at two different Registros Civiles (town halls, essentially) to ask about the requirements. Each office does things a bit differently, and it always helps to be especially gracious when dealing with the government employees. All of the funcionarios we spoke with were EXTREMELY friendly and helpful. One option is the Matrimonio Móvil, where they will come to your ceremony morning, night or weekend. The fee for this is 3,300 Argentinean pesos – roughly 380 USD on the official exchange, or maybe half that on the black market. It’s not hard to find people who want your dollars or euros. It is illegal however, so if you get screwed over you have no recourse. The civil ceremony at the office is totally free. If you choose the ‘mobile’ route, you must also hire a transportation company (there are bunches) to pick up your particular justice of the peace to bring them to and from your wedding site. These are the differences.
Whichever route you choose, you must follow these procedures:
1. Show up at the office exactly 30 days prior to your chosen wedding date to simply request the wedding. In our case, since we were already there even though it well in advance, the kind woman allowed us to set the date then and there. This goes back to my point about being extra friendly and also how each registro civil kind of sets its own rules.
2. You must have a pre-wedding meeting ALONG WITH your chosen witnesses. They can be from anywhere in the world, but the easiest thing is for them to be Mendocinos if you get hitched in Mendoza, Bonaerenses if in Buenos Aires… you get the idea. If not, you have to establish a temporary “residency” for said witnesses. It’s not hard, and only costs a few bucks – but they have to then be present with you in the same geographic location for both the meeting and the wedding of course.
3. Within a week of the wedding, foreigners to-be-hitched must also establish this fictional residence. We have chosen to use the pensión we always stay at as our address (of course we asked them first if it was okay). Bear in mind that the address you select can affect which Registro Civil to get married at. Our address is Mendoza city proper, so we can marry at the office inside the beautiful, giant park San Martín. You take the form given to you at the registro civil along with your identification (passport or permanent residency ID card of whichever country you reside in) to a notary public (called escrivano in Argentina and notario público in Chile) and they will give you back documentation proving your temporary residency is in said geographic locale. Yeah, it seems weird, but this is their way of allowing foreigners to get married in Argentina.
4. Technically, the official word is you need to bring your birth certificate, but both offices said that it really doesn’t matter if you don’t have it. Supposedly they like to use them to get the parents’ names right on the wedding certificate.
5. The last main thing required is a syphilis test. Yep. They changed the marriage laws, but this old one is still on the books. It is free, and they give you the information on where to get it done when you attend the prenuptial meeting. The results will be given back to you the very next day and have a validity period of 7 consecutive days. The libreto de familia and any other odds and ends will also be given to you at this meeting.
6. After the wedding, you take your libreto and other documents to get “legalized” meaning they are stamped and ready to be used abroad. This cannot be done on the same day, but it can be done by a third party and then mailed to you elsewhere by a friend or acquaintance.
From what I understand, Mendoza is the most expedient area of the country to get married. Everyone so far has treated us (two women) extremely well. They’ve even commented that they think Chile, Perú etc. should decide to join the 21st century sometime soon! Mendoza is also an absolutely charming place to spend some time with a cornucopia of vineyards, hot springs, museums and restaurants in the area. It is not expensive – unless you want it to be. It can be hard to find a place that will hold a reception for fewer than 100, and if you’re not from there, it’s unlikely you’ll be importing more than 100 family members and friends. Unless maybe you have way too much money in your bank account. If anyone wants more specifics or has any questions, I can always share more about my personal experience. Oh, also, don’t forget about the visa entry fee for USers, Aussies and Brits.
And lastly, I can’t believe I’m actually getting married. Who knew?!?