Simultaneous Interpreting and Translation Services in Calgary

Weddings in Latin America

Congratulations!  If you are reading through these lines, it's because you are getting married in an paradisiac beach in the Caribbean, and you are planning the wedding of your dreams.

Either if you are a diligent bride who is preparing her wedding with months in advance, or a groom whose only task was to take care of the documentation and waited to the last minute, we are here to help.  So, if you are the latter, relax—you’ll get married.

One of the main questions asked by future newly-weds is what documents need to be translated, and what are the processes the documents have to go through to be valid in the country where the wedding will take place.  And one word that seems to be more mystical than your wedding destination itself is the word “apostille.”  We’ll explain what an apostille is, and we'll provide you the information regarding the processes your documents have to go through to be valid in your wedding destination.  Please bear in mind that the processes vary from country to country, and what is perfectly fine in Mexico may not be fine in the Dominican Republic.

We also provide valuable information regarding what do you upon your return from your wedding, and will guide you through the process of changing your name and marital status.  Because We Care.

What is an apostille?
An apostille is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that are signatories of The Hague Convention of 1961.  Most Latin American countries are signatories of this agreement, and therefore some registries may request a document to be apostilled to be valid in their country.  Generally speaking, any notary public of a country that is signatory of The Hague Convention can apostille a document.

Given that Canada is not a signatory of The Hague Convention, for a document to be considered apostilled overseas, it has to go through a three-step process, which consists of:

  1. Notarization by a notary public
  2. Authentication by the provincial government (Alberta Justice, Government of Saskatchewan, for example)
  3. Legalization by the destination country’s consulate

Do I need an apostille?
It depends.  In some countries, the notarization of your certified translation by a notary public will suffice, as resorts will find that apostilling is the equivalent to notarizing, but others may require that your documents go through the entire apostilling process.

The following is a list of notarization/apostilling requirements for the most common wedding destinations (Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Mexico).  Please be advised that while we try to keep our information up to date, some of the requirements may have been changed.  This information is for general reference only.  We always encourage you to talk to your wedding coordinator regarding the documents you will need to bring to your wedding ceremony.

Requirements to be married in Colombia have been very consistent in the last ten years, which helps a huge deal when it comes the time to translate your documents.

Marriages in Colombia are solemnized by a notary public, who will need all the documents to be duly processed and authenticated.  If you are marrying in Colombia, you will need:

  • Long version of your birth certificate (the one with your parents’ names)
  • Divorce certificate (if applicable)
  • Marriage search certificate

These documents need to go through the following process, in this order:

  1. notarized by a notary public;
  2. authenticated by a provincial government;
  3. translated by a certified translator, and
  4. legalized by the Consulate of Colombia of your jurisdiction. 

These documents should not be older than three months; otherwise they will not be valid in Colombia.


To be married in Cuba, you will need your documents to be notarized and then sent to the Consulate of Cuba of your jurisdiction to be authenticated.  For your wedding ceremony, you will need:

  • Long version of your birth certificate (the one with your parents’ names)
  • If you are marrying for the first time or have been divorced longer than two years: affidavit of single status (bride and groom) click here for a sample
  • If you have been divorced for less than two years: divorce certificate (if applicable).

These documents need to go through the following process, in this order:

  1. translated by a certified translator;
  2. notarized by a notary public; and
  3. legalized by the Consulate of Cuba of your jurisdiction. 

Please be aware that the Consulate of Cuba charges $176.00 per authentication of every document.  Translations count as separate documents, so you will have to double this amount for every document you need to translate.  For example, if both, the bride and the groom, are marrying for the first time, you will need to authenticate the groom’s English birth certificate, the bride’s English birth certificate and the parties’ English affidavits of single status (four documents).  Because you will have one translation for every single one of these documents, you will need to add four more documents to your file.  Therefore, you will have to authenticate eight documents, which will give you a total of $1,408.00.  Also note that you will have to pay for express mailing (to and from the consulate), and an additional fee of $40.00 for non-personal service.  The Cuban Consulate only accepts money drafts.

Dominican Republic
In order to marry in the Dominican Republic, you will require the following documents:

  • Long version of your birth certificates (the one that includes your parents’ names)
  • Affidavit of single status (click here for a sample)
  • Divorce certificate (if applicable)

These documents need to go through the following process, in this order:

  1. translated by a certified translator or the Dominican Consulate;
  2. authenticated by the Consulate of the Dominican Republic of your jurisdiction. 

The Consulate charges $100.00 to authenticate the translation, and the process may take from one to three weeks.

Requirements to marry in Mexico vary from resort to resort.  While some resorts will be more than content with having your documents in English, most of them will require the document to be translated to Spanish and notarized, and some others will require the documents to be translated to Spanish, notarized, and apostilled (i.e., authenticated and legalized).  Please bear in mind that some resorts use the term “apostille” as an equivalent to “notarization,” and you will probably not need to notarize, authenticate and legalize your documents.  Please contact us to guide you in this process.

The documents that you will need to marry in Mexico are:

  • Birth certificates
  • Divorce certificate (if applicable)

These documents need to go through the following process, in this order:
     1. translated by a certified translator; and
     2. notarized by a notary public.

Some resorts may also ask to add the following to the process:
     3. authenticated by the provincial government; and
     4. legalized by the Mexican Consulate of your jurisdiction.

In our experience, most resorts will only ask to have the documents go through steps 1) and 2).  It is very rare that resorts ask for process 3) and 4), but they may.

ETS also offers processing services, which includes notarization, legalization, and authentication.  Please contact us should you require us to take care of the entire document processing.

When you return …
Congratulations!  You came back from the wedding of your dreams in the Caribbean.  Now it comes the time to update your information in your personal documents, such as your driver's license, SIN and passport with your new marital status and maybe your new married name.  For that, you will need to translate your marriage certificate from Spanish into English.

Please be aware that Canada is not a signatory of The Hague convention, and therefore apostilles are not recognized in our country.  If you are offered to have your marriage certificate apostilled after your wedding, kindly decline the service because you do not need it.  Your marriage certificate is valid in Canada as is, without any further legalizations or authentications.  Apostilling a document can be both lengthy and expensive, and this is a step that you are encouraged to skip.

You have probably received one, two or up to six pages of documentation that are part of your marriage package.  You do not need to translate all the pages, only the marriage certificate, a one-page document.  If you are not sure what piece of documentation you need to translate, please contact us to go through your documents with you.  We will guide through the process, and identify the piece of documentation that is equivalent to the marriage certificate valid in Canada—that’s part of our service to you ... Because We Care.