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Marriage of U.S. Citizens in Guatemala

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. Consular officers may authenticate foreign marriage documents, but this is not required for the marriage to be considered valid outside of Guatemala. The fee for the authentication of a document is $50.00

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 authenticated by a Guatemalan Consul in the United States (a list of the Guatemalan consulates is available at

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 dollars or quetzales in cash only), and the affidavit can be signed and sworn to at the consular section Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 noon.

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.