How to Get Married in Cuba – Americans

American citizens who intend to get married in Cuba to a Cuban citizens have a number of hurdles to overcome. In order for your marriage to be considered legal and valid in both Cuba and the United States, you will need to go through multiple steps before even getting on the plane. You will want to get everything right the first time: Imagine planning a wedding and setting a date and then not being able to board a flight to Cuba because you don’t have the right visa.

Imagine finally arriving late in Cuba and finding out you don’t have the right documentation, so you can’t get married. You board a flight back to the USA. You start all over again and hope that you have the right paperwork. You get your cousin in Austin, Texas to translate the documents. She teaches high school Spanish, so it must be valid right?

Then you get on yet another flight back to Cuba with your birth and marriage certificates and your divorce papers and their translations. And you find out they need to be authenticated by the State Department back in Washington DC. You frantically courier the papers to the State Department only to receive formal letter on official letterhead back, saying you have to have these documents certified by the State in which they were issued, before State Department can authenticate them.

So you fly back again, still unmarried, and start where you should have started in the first place: getting your documents certified by the Secretary of State in your state.

The final step is legalization of the documents at the Cuban embassy in Washington DC.

Follow this 7-step process to get married in Cuba

Click on the hyperlinked text for more information.

  1. Are you single, divorced, or widowed? Find out what documents you need depending on your marital status.
    • If you are single (never married) you will need:
      • Birth Certificate
      • Affidavit of Single Status – this is not a Marriage Search Certificate
    • If you are divorced you will need:
      • Birth Certificate
      • Divorce Certificate
      • Affidavit of Single Status
    • If you are a widower you will need:
      • Birth Certificate
      • Marriage Certificate
      • Death Certificate
      • Affidavit of Single Status
    • Affidavit of Identity – if you have changed your name and it is different from your name on any of the above documents. Your Affidavit of Identity must not be more than 6 months old.
  2. Get a certified as a true copy of each document by the Secretary of State in the State in which they were issued. Each State will have their own procedures for certifying a document. You will normally have to send the original copies along with a fee and the application form, as well as a return envelope.
  3. Get your newly certified documents authenticated by the State Department in Washington DC. You will need to either mail, courier, or hand-deliver a package with the application form and certified documents, fees, and a SASE.
  4. Get your certified and authenticated documents translated into Spanish for use in Cuba by a certified translator. The translations must be both certified by the translator and then notarized.
  5. Get the documents legalized at the Cuban embassy in Washington DC. Cuba is not a signatory to the Apostille Convention, so documents must be legalized at the Cuban embassy in America in order for them to be used in Cuba. You must have both the English and Spanish documents. (Printable Checklist for your trip to the Embassy)
  6. Book a package tour to Cuba. These fall under People to People Exchanges category of permitted travel to Cuba. There are 12 categories in all classifying what type of travel to Cuba on the part of Americans is legal. These are managed by the Treasury Department because they are the ones in charge of the trade sanctions still imposed on Cuba. People to people exchanges are the most common category used by tour operators to enable you to travel to Cuba.
  7. Make sure your Cuban partner has the required documents. This usually includes:
    • Cuban Identity Card
    • Divorce Certificate if applicable
    • Medical Certificate stating whether she is pregnant – if female and divorced within the last 300 days.
    • Marriage & Death Certificates if a widow

    You will also need 2 adult witnesses who are functional in Spanish. They will need to bring with them the following:

    • Identity Document if Cuban
    • Passport if foreign
    • Give their full name and address

We strongly recommend getting professional assistance for these procedures. In our experience, the process can be quite confusing for people doing it for the first time. If one step is done wrong, the entire process after that wrong step will have to be done again.

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