Updated 11 months ago

Getting married in Panama is relatively easy, even if you are not a resident of the country. The minimum age is 18. Birth certificates and divorce certificates (if applicable) will need to be produced, and some will need an apostille -- the internationally recognised certification of validity.

People getting married once they are living in Panama can discuss it all in person with the local authorities. If neither partner is living in the country but they want to get married there it is very advisable to consult a relevant lawyer.

That’s because there is more to it than meets the eye. While proof of divorce might seem the obvious requirement, here there is also a need for lifelong single people to swear they have never been married, in front of a Notary Public and independent witnesses.

If one future-spouse is a Panamanian citizens

A foreigner marrying a Panamanian citizen is granted permanent residence and also has the right to apply for a work permit. However, the marriage must be registered in Panama. This obviously presents opportunities to circumvent some rules, and it is not unknown in any country for outsiders to marry their way into society, so Panama is hardly unique in that respect.

Same-sex marriages

Although LGBT rights are under discussion in Panama and attitudes generally are mellowing, as of 2017 same-sex marriages are still not legal and such marriages officiated in other countries are not recognised.

In that respect Panama lags behind many countries around the world, but remember, Latin America in general is a relatively macho region and, although most people are not hostile to same-sex relationships, they’re less accustomed to it.

Paperwork

An area such as marriage requires the production of paperwork, much of which will have to be sourced from your own country, so the more you know in advance, the more you can bring with you, the more time you can save and the more frustration you can avoid. If you do find yourself having to ask a friend back home to get you a new copy of your birth certificate, it will be no good to you if it never actually arrives, and things are different in different countries.

Do not send documents to Panama by mail, even using one of the special “guaranteed delivery” services which work well in the US, UK and many other countries. In many parts of Central and South America the postal service is not as it is back home – in some places it hardly exists anymore - and it is far safer to send things by courier (Fedex, UPS etc.). More expensive, certainly, but at least you can be confident it won’t disappear somewhere along the way

 Useful links:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Panama
Judicial Service of Panama

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