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Marriages in El Salvador

Guidelines for U.S. Citizens Getting Married in El Salvador

El Salvador’s marriage laws are significantly different than those in the U.S. Primarily, it is important to note that by law, the couple must have a civil ceremony performed by a public notary (most lawyers), a mayor (in one of the 262 municipalities) or a governor (in one of the 14 provinces) officiating in El Salvador. The religious ceremony is optional, but if performed must be held after the civil ceremony.

In order to get married through a civil ceremony you must obtain proof of birth and (if applicable) divorce certificate(s) and/or death certificate(s) as proof of your civil status.

Please note that the birth/divorce/death certificate (with an Apostille attached) need to be issued 60 days prior to the proposed date of the civil ceremony. 

If the issue date of the certificate(s) is older, the citizen should obtain a new valid certificate(s). 

In order to be valid in El Salvador the certificate(s) must be taken to the Apostille Authority in the state where the certificate was issued for authentication with an apostille seal. In most states, the Apostille Authority is that state's Secretary.

Please note that the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador cannot assist in obtaining apostille, birth certificates, death certificate and/or divorce decrees from the United States we can only provide information. Also the Embassy cannot provide translation services for English language documents but we can facilitate a list of translators in the San Salvador area for convenience. All U.S. documents must be apostilled and translated to the Spanish languaje under Salvadoran regulation per say through a Salvadoran notary public who will name a "Perito Traductor" (Certified Translator) to do the translation.   

Also, the chosen official could ask to the U.S Citizen a “Certificate of Singleness” that you can get at our American Citizen Services. This notarization cost $50 USD.

The U.S. Citizen should go to the chosen official to draft an “acta pre-matrimonial” (pre-nuptial agreement). In case that the couple or one of them doesn’t understands the Spanish language they should find a public notary who speaks English so he can draft the translation of pre-nuptial agreement and the “Escritura Publica de Matrimonio” (Deed of Marriage). 

At this time, the couple should present their birth certificates, valid passports (for the U.S. citizen), death certificates and divorce deeds (if applicable).

Please note that in the pre-nuptial agreement the Salvadoran law requires that the couple must choose one of three prenuptial regimes:

1) Separation of assets: Each one keeps what is theirs at the moment of the marriage.

2) Participation in utility: each individual keeps its pre-marriage assets, however the couple must divide equally the properties that appreciated during the marriage

3) Division of Assets: divide all assets (initial and accrued) equally at the end of the marriage.  At the same time the chosen official will ask the bride which last name she will take at this time. 

A civil ceremony should be held within the time frame of the certificates and the couple should sign the “Escritura Pública de Matrimonio” (Deed of Marriage) in the presence of two witnesses.

The chosen official will be responsible for entering the marriage in a Protocol book and send a photocopy of the entry to the Salvadoran’s citizen known place of birth city hall.

Immediately after the ceremony the public notary should register the “Escritura Pública de Matrimonio” (Deed of Marriage) at the appropriate Salvadoran’s City Hall and give two copies to each of the married individuals.  The City Hall’s certification will issue a “Partida de Matrimonio” (Marriage Certificate) based on the Escritura (Deed).

If the U.S. citizen wishes to register his/her foreign marriage in the U.S., it is recommended to check with the City or County Clerk in the U.S. citizen’s last known residence in the United States. They may be in the position to inform regarding any specific requirements they would have. The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador is unable to register foreign marriages of U.S. citizens living abroad, or to authenticate foreign documents.  Therefore, should the U.S. citizen desire to have the Salvadoran marriage certificate "apostille", it would be needed to take it to the Offices of the Salvadoran Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores-RR.EE). Please note that these matters are strictly between the couple, the notary public or chosen official and the Government of El Salvador.