Marriage and Citizenship in Cape Verde

I've often been asked the question about getting married in Cape Verde and also about getting citizenship, I think it's time to share with the Expat community some helpful information about this topic since it comes up often enough.

The marriage laws in Cape Verde are very similar to just about everywhere else. As an expat, you find a Cape Verdean mate, you fall in love and you want to marry him or her and live in Cape Verde. You can get married in a religious ceremony (in a church for example) or a civil ceremony (at the civil registry). You only need your passport and birth certificate (and if you're divorced, you'll obviously need the divorce decree). You need four witnesses to sign the civil documents and you are issued a certificate of marriage. It's that simple. And once you have the marriage certificate, you are immediately entitled to Cape Verdean citizenship. And you will never have to pay those pesky resident visa renewal fees anymore!

There is an interesting twist in Cape Verde's laws. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE PHYSICALLY PRESENT IN CAPE VERDE to marry a Cape Verdean local in a civil ceremony. You simply send a power of attorney to someone who will "stand in your place." That person attends the civil ceremony and signs all the documents on your behalf. At the end, a marriage certificate is issued in your name and the name of your new spouse. In other words, you don't even have to set foot in Cape Verde, and you can get married to someone in Cape Verde as long as you have authorized it. That's pretty incredible isn't it?

Under Cape Verde law, your spouse is entitled to HALF OF YOU LOCAL ASSETS in case of divorce. This can be very scary to expats since they usually bring substantial assets to the marriage. But there is no need for alarm, since you can have a PRE-NUPTIAL agreement in place at the time of the marriage. In fact, there is a generic check-box on the marriage documents where you can indicate that you do not want to share the assets you bring to the marriage union. However, I have never liked generic check-boxes when it come to the law. You never know what they actually mean. Instead, you can draft an alternative more detailed agreement which you can submit at the time you fill out the marriage forms. You and your spouse-to-be must both sign the agreement. This way you can be much more specific, especially about assets that may be accumulated after the date of the marriage.

Expats should be extremely careful about protecting their assets. You see, under Cape Verdean law, EVEN IF YOU DO NOT MARRY YOUR CAPE VERDEAN PARTNER, so long as you have lived together for 6 months, you are considered to be in a common law marriage and your partner is still entitled to half your assets. So you should request they since a pre-nuptial agreement even if you are not married, or even if you plan to officially marry at a later date.

What if things just don't work out? After you've been married for two years, you can apply for a divorce. You can do this together, or alone. If you file on your own, your spouse of course will be asked to respond, only in the sense that they are entitled to take possession of half the assets (and vice versa). It's a fairly simple process. The judge will order that half your bank accounts are held and the police will escort you to your marital residence to oversee the amicable splitting of the household contents. Of course, if you have that pre-nuptial agreement, the family-court judge is compelled to comply with its terms. And this is why you must keep receipts for everything you purchase while married, and make sure everything is ONLY IN YOUR NAME. If you purchase items such as a car or a house, and the receipt or documents are in both names, you will still have to split those items because they will be considered as items you have equally contributed to even if your spouse paid zero towards the item.

Your marriage certificate entitles you to immediate Cape Verdean citizenship and a Cape Verdean passport. Applying for the passport is very simple. You make an appointment to submit the passport application, you attend the appointment and provide your passport and your original marriage certificate. These documents will be immediately returned to you. You also pay the passport fee of about 50€. Passport photographs are taken by the passport authority so you don't even need to walk with photos. You must come to PRAIA to apply for the passport.

Unfortunately, you can no longer apply for a Cape Verdean passport in absencia. Cape Verde now uses the new biographic passports and pictures must be taken of the irises in your eyes. So you must be present to apply. Of course, once you have applied for a passport, you can have someone take delivery of it on your behalf and mail it to you, should you happen to be outside of Cape Verde at the time the passport is emitted.

Even if you get divorced later, you will not lose your citizenship. You can simply renew your passport by submitting the old passport when you apply for the new one and paying the renewal fee which is around 50€.

I hope this information is helpful to you. If you have questions, please ask. And if you need more detailed help, just send me a private message.

Hi can u give me ur mail I’d so I can mail u regarding this topic I want to get married in Cape Verde and I need advice so please can u help me with ur mail id

I'd be happy to help you, Marc. I'm not going to post my email address here though. You can simply send me a private message here on Expat. I always read my messages so I will respond quickly.

Gaspermarc :

Hi can u give me ur mail I’d so I can mail u regarding this topic I want to get married in Cape Verde and I need advice so please can u help me with ur mail id

Wow! What a post. Exactly what I was looking for. Ditto on the email contact for me. I'm new here, so haven't put up much of a profile. But am looking to travel to CV to see the one place that seems to understand how to live life simply -- a much overlooked intangible in this modern age.



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