AMERICAN GENTLEMEN AND COLOMBIA MARRIAGE

By: Gary G. Bala, USA Immigration Attorney

Last Revised: January 2007

Civil Marriage in Colombia is a matter of their local civil law, but the rules appear to be fluid and are often applied with a fair amount of discretion by local officials. Some of the rules are inconsistent between the cities, while others appear to change with little or no notice.

For example, in Bogota, there is a requirement that notice of the marriage be published in the local newspaper for five days before the wedding date. By contrast, in Cali, there is no such requirement, at least not one uniformly or strictly enforced. See Here: For a List of All Civil Public Notaries in Cali. Click here for the Cali local government's List of Cali Notaries. Click Here for a List of All Notaries in Colombia: Colombian Notaries.

The U.S. Embassy, Consular Sections in Bogota and Barranquilla distribute a Consular Information sheet with an informal interpretation of Colombian law regarding marriage of a U.S. Citizen to a Colombian national. The U.S. Embassy Website also outlines their view of Colombian Marriage requirements and Visa Options here: Visa Options When Marrying a Colombian National. These sources state that a valid civil marriage performed in accordance with Colombian law is fully recognized by U.S. law, but caution that you must consult closely with a Colombian official or attorney to properly accomplish a civil marriage in Colombia.

Having set forth these cautions, the actual requirements for civil marriage in Colombia are fairly straight-forward:

I. The Marriage Documentary Requirements
The American Gentleman

1. U.S. Birth Certificate (certified) with issuance date less than 90 days from the proposed wedding date, which shows parents' names, with Apostille from the Secretary of State office from the State which originated the document.

2. Previous Divorce Decrees (certified) with U.S. notarization less than 90 days from wedding date, with Apostille from the Secretary of State office from the State which originated the document.

3. Certificate of Singlehood issued by your County Records Office or Vital Statistics office less than 90 days before your expected wedding date. For a List of All Counties in the USA, See: COUNTY LIST. This document must then be stamped with the Apostille from the Secretary of State office from your State which originated the document. For a List of All Secretary of State Offices, see: SECRETARY OF STATE LIST. (Sometimes, an affidavit from a family member or two close friends may substitute for a Certificate of Singlehood. Check with your Notary.)[What is a Certificate of Singlehood? A Certificate of Singlehood for the Colombian Marriage Notary is a government document which means that you are single and CURRENTLY NOT MARRIED. It is considered DIFFERENT FROM A DIVORCE DECREE. It basically proves to the Notary that you are not already currently married. In the USA as contrasted with other countries, this document called Certificate of Singlehood is not considered a common document. Then, how do you get it? You get it by going to your local County Records Office and asking for a Name Search or Name Check under your name for any record of current marriage in that county. They will usually hand you a paper stamped or certified by them saying that there is NO RECORD OF CURRENT MARRIAGE of you in that county's records. This is called a "No Record of Current Marriage" in that county and is usually sufficient for the Colombian Notary as a government document equal to a Certificate of Singlehood.

4. Photocopy of your American Passport (notarized) with expiration date more than six months after marriage date.

These offical documents may be required to be translated into Spanish by a translator approved by the Colombian Consulate. Check with your local Notary and Colombian Consulate for current requirement.

The reason official documents need to be issued or re-issued within 90 days of date of marriage is that Colombian Civil Notaries and other Colombian government authorities require "fresh" or recent issued official documents, rather than "stale" or old ones, to generate a valid marriage certificate.

Part of the marriage process in Colombia (or elsewhere for that matter) requires that you sign and submit papers disclosing your past marriages, divorces, and biography. Failure to fully and fairly disclose this information only jeopardizes the validity of your marriage and marriage certificate.

Additional documents may be requested at the discretion of the Notary, and thus should be secured and available.Technically, the Notary may want a Limited Power of Attorney signed by the U.S. gentleman groom before processing the papers, but this can usually also be signed by the gentlemen shortly before the wedding.

*Last five years of Federal Income Tax returns with schedules and attachments

*Last twelve months of your bank statements of deposits and bank letter certification on bank stationary

*Certification of stable employment from your employer on employer stationary

*Proof of ownership of real estate and investment holdings

ORDER YOUR RECORDS HERE:
USA Vital

The Colombian Lady Bride

1. Birth certificate (certified or notarized) issued within thirty days of the proposed wedding date of bride and any children

2. Colombian Passport* (copy notarized) of bride and children (*CLARIFICATION: Although this document is not technically required for a Colombian Lady or U.S. Citizen to accomplish a civil or Church marriage, it is recommended that the bride and any children secure a Colombian passport as part of or immediately following the marriage process since most married couples want to secure a U.S. visa on conclusion of marriage as expeditously as possible and a Colombian passport is a pre-requisite to the issuance of such a visa by the U.S. Consulate.)

3. Cedula or Identification card (copy notarized) of bride and children

4. Divorce decree or death certificate of former spouse (copy notarized)

5. If children are expected to travel with the bride-to-be, court decree showing that the names and custody of the children are no longer with the father, or a letter or statement signed, dated and notarized from the father declaring no objection to the children's departure from Colombia, or a letter from a local social services office stating that the whereabouts of the father are not known.

NOTES:

A. Minor children who might accompany the new bride can complicate the marriage process. Technically, under Colombian Emigration rules and the Colombian "right of paternity", the father of the children can legally deny permission for the children to leave the country, especially if (though not necessarily only when) the children still carry the father's name. To ensure that children of your bride will be allowed exit from Colombia, a written, signed, dated Letter of Permission of Father is required by Colombian DAS (Administrative Department of Security). There are a few well-establish exceptions to the general rule that the Father's permission letter is required, namely if the Father's whereabouts are not known or the Father is deceased. For more information, see the Article titled: "Can the Kids Go Home?" in our Newsletter (Adobe Acrobat pdf format).

B. You must disclose to the Notary, if requested, the names of both your parents, whether living or deceased, and the name of your employer.

C. Where pages of documents are translated into Spanish, there may be additional charges if the pages number more than eight.

D. All documents must be presented to a Colombian public "notaria" who reviews the materials for adequacy, and then can arrange for a Colombian judge or justice of the peace to actually perform the ceremony. Many notaries can and do perform the ceremony themselves.

E. Colombia is a participant in the Hague Convention of 1961 which abolishes the requirement that U.S. English-language documents be "legalized" by the U.S. Consulate or State Department before they are recognized as valid. See: Colombian Consulate (Houston) Information. However, Notaries can still require that U.S. documents which be certified by the state Secretary of State with an "Apostille".

See: An Explanation of the Hague Convention and "Apostille", State Department.

For a List of Secretary of State Offices, Address, Telphone Numbers and Fees to Secure an "Apostille", See: Contact List of Secretary of State Offices.

SPECIAL NOTE: Effective February 01, 2005, the "Temporary Special Visa for Marriage" or Pre-Marriage Visa by a Foreign Citizen in Colombia is no longer required. U.S. Citizens can now marry in Colombia under any valid and unexpired visa, including the standard tourist visa which is the entry stamp of typically 30 to 60 days in the U.S. Passport when processing through D.A.S. (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad) at any Colombian airport with arriving international flights. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS TOPIC, SEE:
DISCONTINUANCE OF TEMPORARY SPECIAL VISA FOR MARRIAGE

SUGGESTED SERVICES:

A. HOTELS:
1. Hotel Capital - Forte Travelodge
(close to the U.S. Embassy and the Airport)
Avenida Eldorado # 69A-51
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Tel.: (011-571) 412-4961, Toll Free: 9800-11199

2. Hotel Embassy Suites Rosales
Calle 70 # 6-22
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Tel.: (011-571) 317-1368

3. Hostal Casa Franco
Calle 22 Bis, No. 44A-46
Bogota, D.C., Colombia
Tel: (011-571) 244-1370

4. Hostal Casa Americana
Tel: 011-57-1-269-8875
or 011-57-1-579-2287

5.Hotel Puerta del Sol
Calle 75, No. 41D-79
Barranquilla (Atlantico), Colombia, S.A.
Tel: 356-5006 or 356-9898 Fax: 368-1686

B. SAMPLE PUBLIC NOTARIES IN SOME CITIES
(THESE OFFICIALS CONDUCT CIVIL MARRIAGES IN COLOMBIA)

1. Notaria Primera (First Public Notary)
Cra. 4a, No. 10-47 2o. Piso Cali (Valle), Colombia, S.A.
Tel: 011- 57-2-881-3251 or 011-57-2-889-2301

2. Notaria Secunda (Second Public Notary)
Cra. 2a., No. 7-03 Of. 201 / 202, Cali (Valle), Colombia S.A
Tel: 011-57-2-554-1012 or 011-57-2-554-1013

3. Dr. Mario Cesear Acosta (Public Notary 13)
Cq. 5, No. 70-93
Medellin (Antioquia), Colombia, S.A.
Tel: 412-0433, 411-2928
Web: www.Notaria13.cjb.net

4. Antonio Guzman Naranjo (Public Notary)
Notaria Tercera
World Trade Center
Calle 76, Cra. 54 Esquina
No. 54-11, Nivel L-15
Barranquilla (Atlantico), Colombia, S.A.
Tel: 348-9207

5. Dr. Rafael Maria Gutierrez (Public Notary)
Notaria Septima
Calle 53, No. 44-184
Barranquilla (Atlantico), Colombia, S.A.
Tel: 349-1098, 340-7705, 340-3629 .

LIST OF SUGGESTED COLOMBIAN LAWYERS FROM U.S. EMBASSY WEBSITE

FAMILY LAWYER IN BOGOTA:
1. Luis Fernando Pradilla Farfan (Family Lawyer)
Cra. 13a, No. 38-39 of 201
Bogota, D.C., Colombia, S.A.
Tel: 285-1928, 527-4370 Cel: 310-246-0763 Fax: 285-2069 E-mail: fernandopradilla@yahoo.com

C. CONSULATE APPROVED TRANSLATORS
1. Eduardo Calado Noguera
Calle 49, No. 19-43, Apto. 302
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia
Tel: 287-3892 E-mail: traducal@tutopia.com

2. Gonzalo Escobar Kafury
Av. 3F Norte #40-49, Barrio Vipasa
Cali (Valle), Colombia
Tel: 664-6859 or Cell 315-509-2750

3. Michael Taboada
Cra. 52, No. 72-114, Local D-48, 2ndo. Piso
Barranquilla (Atlantico), Colombia, S.A.
Web: Mike's Spanish Translations
Tel: 360-9864 or 360-9865

D. SUGGESTED PERSONAL TAXI-DRIVER/GUIDE IN BARRANQUILLA, COLOMBIA (Speaks Good English, Very Safe, Owns New Vehicle with A/C,
Extremely Knowledgeable)

1. Alvaro D'Achiardi Viteri
Cellular Telephone: 310-632-9609
Barranquilla, Colombia
E-mail: aldavit@lycos.com

E. PRIVATE COURIERS TO COLOMBIA
1. D.H.L. Worldwide, Inc.

(with Physical Offices in Cali, Barranquilla and other cities)
Tel: 1-800-225-5345 (They can pick up at your location.)

2. Avianca Express

New Jersey Office: 300 Main Street, Hackensack, NJ 07601 USA Tel: 201-448-5333
Florida Office: 2511 N.W. 72nd Ave, Miami FL 33122 USA Tel: 1-800-591-9112
Florida Send Location for Packages: 801 W. 48th Street Suite 110, Hialeah FL 33012 USA
$10.00 US for 1st lb., $3.00 US each additional pound, $5.00 Door Delivey Service
Colombian Tax for Value of Package Merchandise is 29%
(as of 05/02)

3. ABE Cargo Express

(Specialize in Delivery to Colombia)
Tel: 1-305-471-0203 Fax: 1-305-471-5886 E-mail: info@abecardgo.com

4. U.P.S. Worldwide, Inc.(Delivery to Colombia)
Tel: 1-800-742-5877 Online Customer Service: Online Customer Service
5. FedEx.(Delivery to Colombia)
Tel: 1-800-GO-FEDEX (463-3339)

F. HONEYMOONS IN COLOMBIA
1. Cartagena Virtual

(Information on Cartagena)

2. San Andres
(Information on San Andres)

G. HONEYMOONS OUTSIDE OF COLOMBIA
WHICH COUNTRIES DOES A COLOMBIAN NATIONAL NEED A VISA FOR?:

ProjectVisa.com also has a Search Engine Page to Check Visa Requirements Worldwide

See:

Check Visa Requirements Worldwide

NOTICE: THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BOGOTA, COLOMBIA WILL NO LONGER PROCESS IMMIGRANT VISA PETITIONS FOR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN OF "NON-RESIDENT" OF COLOMBIA U.S. CITIZENS THROUGH DIRECT CONSULAR FILING AFTER JULY 01, 2003. VISA APPLICANTS MUST FILE THEIR PETITIONS IN THE UNITED STATES. SEE: EMBASSY NOTICE