How to Get Married in Cuba

Are you thinking about getting married in Cuba? How about marrying on one of Cuba’s quiet white beaches, such as Varadero or Cayo Santa Maria at sunset, or in a French colonial church in the heart of Havana? 

How would you like to feel like a celebrity while touring through town in a vintage Cuban car on the way to your wedding? Perhaps you can stay at a resort where you can legally smoke a Cuban cigar. 

Tying the knot in Cuba may sound like a dream come true, but there is a lot to do to make it happen. To get married in another country, there are requirements you have to follow. Each country has its own procedures. 

In this article, you will find out what it takes to get married in Cuba. So, can a US citizen get married in Cuba? We have the answer. 

You will learn about Cuban marriage laws, how long it takes to get married in Cuba, and what documents you need, including how to get them for you and your future spouse. 

Find out what the Cuban Treasury Department requirements are and how much it could cost you to get married in Cuba. The process is lengthy, so you better start planning. 

Can a US Citizen Get Married in Cuba?

A photo of two people holding hands as they walk along a beach in Cuba. The sun is setting and the sky has a brilliant orange color
Young adult male groom and female bride holding hands on beach at sunset.

The answer is yes, you can, but there are guidelines you must follow. First of all, you both must be at least 18 years old to get married in Cuba. 

Secondly, you cannot be related to each other by marriage, blood, or adoption. Third, you and your fiance/e must be in Cuba at least three days before you marry. 

It is crucial that you do your research before booking your special date. Find out exactly what you need and start working on it before you make any reservations. Learn about the country and what to expect. Make sure there are not any restrictions that will prevent you from going to Cuba.

If you are not sure where to start, ask a lawyer in Cuba, or contact the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC about the information on marriage requirements in Cuba. 

According to Ambar Diaz law firm in Miami, marriage in Cuba is comparatively different than that of the U.S. You have a financial obligation to your spouse regardless of whether or not you stay together. That is not necessarily the case in America. 

An extra FYI when traveling to Cuba: they do not like public displays of affection and they prefer you wear shorts only at the beach. 

What are the Marriage Laws in Other Countries?

A photo of a woman's hand holding a pen as she signs a marriage contract. There are two rings sitting on the document

Personnel from the U.S. embassy and consulate may not marry couples in other countries. Only local officials or religious personnel of those countries can officiate. Marriages that take place overseas are valid in the country where the ceremonies happen as long as they follow the local laws. 

Mandatory procedures vary per country. Some of the requirements that you should expect may include: 

  • Before you can get married, you and your spouse-to-be may have to live for a period of time in the country where you plan to marry
  • You might have to have blood tests
  • There may be a minimum age requirement
  • You may have to get parental consent
  • You may have to provide authentic divorce and death certificates, if applicable, in that country’s language
  • You may need an Affidavit to verify your eligibility to get married

If you need to verify that your marriage will be valid once you return to the US, contact the 

Attorney General in your state. 

What are the Cuban Marriage Laws?

According to article 16 of the Cuban Fundamental Law of 1959, a non-Cuban who marries a Cuban keeps his or her nationality. He or she can obtain Cuban citizenship by marriage if children are born within the marriage or the couple has lived in Cuba for two consecutive years after marrying.

Non-Cubans must apply for the Cuban government’s permission to marry someone from Cuba. You must prove you are fit to marry a Cuban by providing documentation, which you will learn about in the next two sections. 

How Long Does it Take to Get Married in Cuba? 

The preparation process is long because of the many steps you must take. One reason it will take longer to get married in Cuba is the process it takes to get your required documents ready. Requirements may vary by state. 

Here is the process for preparing your required documents:

  1. Required documents must be true certified copies through your state. You will have to send original copies by mail along with the fee, application, and a SASE.
  2. The certified copies must receive authentication from the State Dept in Washington D.C.
  3. A certified Spanish translator must translate the documents into Spanish.
  4. Get a notary public to put a seal on your documents. 
  5. Legalize your English and Spanish documents through your country’s Cuban Embassy. 
  6. Book your wedding trip to Cuba. A “People to People Exchange Tour” package tour is the easiest way to get to Cuba. The purpose of this tour package is to engage in island activities so you can learn about Cuba.
  7. Ensure your Cuban fiance/e has the required documents, such as a Cuban identity card, divorce certificate, medical certificate proving a recently divorced woman is not pregnant, if applicable, and marriage and death certificates if a widow. 

Two witnesses who can translate in Spanish must be present with their required documents. You may want to consider receiving assistance from a professional to make sure the marriage process follows regulations. If the process is not done correctly, you will have to start over.

Requirements of Cuban Treasury Department

An image of the Havana skyline at night. It shows a vibrant city with a classical architectural style

In order to be able to travel to Cuba, the Treasury Department of Cuba requires Americans to qualify for one of their 12 travel categories. Part of the condition is that you cannot spend a lot of time on leisure activities, including the beach. 

Visits With Close Family

This applies to mostly Cuban-Americans. It gives them the opportunity to visit close relatives who reside in or are visiting the country. The relatives must be close (three generations or less).

Official US Government Business

The United States government sends officials into Cuba for government business. 

Journalism

You must be there for journalism writing purposes, meaning you must spend most of your time writing. Cuba only allows minimal time for recreation or touring. 

Research Work

You must be there for professional research only. You may attend conferences that pertain to research but none concerning tourism. The research must take place in Cuba.

Education Purposes

This is a category to include foreign exchange students and researchers for non-profit organizations. 

People-to-People Exchange Tours

This pertains to guided exchange tours to interact with people. It is not for educational purposes. Most Americans use this category to get into Cuba. You can book this through a tour agency.

Religious Endeavors

You must be a part of a religious group traveling for religious purposes only. You cannot travel independently and will not be able to spend free time for long periods. 

Musical performances, teaching workshops, and athletic activities: 

Musicians, teachers, and athletes make up this group. They are there to provide entertainment, teach classes, or compete in athletic programs or events. 

Cuban Support Groups

This category is for civilians of other countries who support democracy and civil rights in Cuba. 

Humanitarianism

This category involves medical and disaster relief efforts, groups that preserve historical places or objects, infrastructure construction, development of rural areas, and environmental-type projects.  

Private Foundations

These groups have a common interest in international relations. They research and gather data for non-commercial use. 

Informational Materials 

This category is for marketing purposes or media-related business.

Exporting Purposes

This is for the purpose of exporting goods from Cuba.

If you meet any of those above groups, you will have a better chance of getting into Cuba. Otherwise, the people-to-people exchange is your best bet. Before you can even get married in Cuba, you must have all of your documents ready before you travel. 

What Documents Do I Need to Get Married in Cuba? 

A photo of a beautifully decorated garden set up for a wedding. It includes flowers, seating, and an altar

Each partner must provide certain prepared documents before traveling to Cuba. In fact, you should send your documents to your hotel about three weeks before your wedding. Your marital history determines what type of documents you will need to supply. 

If You Are Single and Never Married

  • Birth Certificate–It must be a certified copy.
  • Affidavit proving you are single–This is not an official document from the federal or state government. You must obtain one from a notary public. It must be no more than six months old when you present it. 

If You Are Divorced Or Widowed

  • Birth certificate and divorce certificate–They must be certified copies.
  • Affidavit of Identity if you have a name that is different from the documents. It cannot be more than six months old when you present it. This applies to both divorced and widowed persons. 
  • Certified death certificate of spouse and marriage certificate, if you are a widow. 

Each partner must have a valid passport with the same names as the above documents. If your names are different, the Affidavit of Identity is what you will need to verify who you are. 

An additional document to present in both English and Spanish is demographic information about you and your spouse-to-be, which includes names, home address, education, occupations, and names of parents. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get Married in Cuba?

From obtaining visas and required documents to the final arrangements, getting married in Cuba can become expensive. The actual wedding depends on the wedding packages you choose, which range from USD 200 for basic to USD 5,000 for all-inclusive deals. 

Some of the wedding packages are all-inclusive from the bridal bouquet to the wedding ceremony. Photography and a private reception are an extra cost. 

Those prices above do not include the amount you spend to certify, authenticate, translate, and notarize your documents. Add in mailing your documents and your airfare and you could spend a fortune by the time it is over. 

It is advisable to carry cash with you as some of the public transportation and shops may not be able to give back a lot of change. Carry cash in various dollar amounts. As of now, Visa and Mastercard are the only cards you can use in Cuba.

Conclusion

If you decide that getting married in Cuba is right for you, consider visiting from the months of November through April, which is the dry season. The temperature stays around 80 degrees F, which converts to 27 degrees C in Cuba. Other months of the year are rainy.

Let’s recap: Americans can marry in Cuba, but you must follow regulations. 

  • You both must be at least 18 years old to get married in Cuba. 
  • You cannot be related to each other by marriage, blood, or adoption. 
  • You and your fiance/e must be in Cuba at least three days before you marry. 

You must receive permission from the Cuban government to marry a resident by presenting the proper documentation. There is a proper way to prepare your documents in order to marry in Cuba. If you do not follow the correct process, you will have to start over. 

Part of the requirement to get married in Cuba is that you must fit in at least one of 12 categories to be able to travel into and learn about the country. 

Getting married in Cuba will be expensive due to the cost of the required documents, the travel package, obtaining visas, and the airfare. The total cost will vary. Plan your budget carefully and make sure you are financially ready for such an expense. 

If you have to choose between Cuba and the US, getting married in America does not require as much paperwork and is cheaper. There are rules you have to follow to get your Cuban partner into the US. Overall, the process may not be as stressful.

Related: Can a US Citizen Buy Property in Cuba?