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Marriage in Guatemala
October 12, 2023

Who May Perform Marriages Abroad

American diplomatic and consular officers are NOT permitted to perform marriages (Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations 52.1). Marriages in Guatemala are almost always performed by local civil officials (Alcalde Municipal) or a Guatemalan lawyer.

As a rule, marriages are not performed on the premises of an American embassy or consulate. The validity of marriages abroad is not dependent upon the presence of an American diplomatic or consular officer, but upon adherence to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed.

Documentation and Authentication

For marriage in Guatemala, a foreigner must present a valid passport and birth certificate. In addition, persons previously married must present evidence of the dissolution of the previous marriage (e.g. a divorce decree or death certificate of the previous spouse). Any non-Guatemalan documents presented to the marriage registrar must first be apostilled.  For U.S. documents (at the federal level) to be recognized in Guatemala, please contact the Department of State Authentications and Apostilles Office.  For apostilles of official documents issued by a particular state, please contact the Secretary of State for that state.

Affidavit of Eligibility to Marry

Guatemalan law requires proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract in the form of certification by competent authority that no impediment exists to the marriage. No such document exists in the United States. Guatemalan authorities usually accept an affidavit written by the U.S. citizen stating that they are free to marry and notarized at the American Embassy. This is called “libertad de estado.” The fee for the American consular officer’s notarization of the affidavit is $50 (payable in U.S. dollars or Guatemalan quetzales), and the affidavit can be signed and sworn to at the Consular Section with a notarial services appointment (Appointment System).

Here is sample language that you may include in your affidavit:

A quien corresponda,

En la ciudad de ___________________, el día _______ de __________________ de ________, yo, _______________________________________, quien me identifico con pasaporte número ______________________ extendido el _______________________ por el Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos de América, bajo juramento, declaro que me encuentro soltero y que por lo tanto, según los requerimientos establecidos en la República de Guatemala tengo aptitud para contraer matrimonio y mi estado civil no encuadra en ningún caso de impedimento para el mismo.  Leo lo escrito y bien enterado de su contenido, objeto, validez y demás efectos legales, lo acepto ratifico y firmo.

Newspaper Publication

When a foreigner requests to be married in Guatemala, Guatemalan law requires that the foreigner publishes an announcement in the official newspaper for two weeks to check if there is an obstacle for the marriage.