Why you should (plus when you’re required to) register your foreign marriage certificate in Ecuador

Oct 11, 2022

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Whether a Foreign Marriage has been formally celebrated through a religious ritual (i.e. in a Church, Mosque or Temple) or rather in front of a civil official like a Judge or a Notary, its existence in ANY case is ONLY made legal (i.e. officially registered) in Ecuador at and by one of its Civil Registry offices, as is to be further explained in this article.

Regardless of the scenario at hand, in order to do so at self, the spouses must both be located in Ecuador in order to submit a request for the Marriage inscription to be registered here. If not both living in or not both currently located in Ecuador, the spouses may appoint a legally recognized representative (i.e. appoint an Ecuadorian Attorney to act as their “Power of Attorney”) so as to submit the request on their behalf at one of the approved offices of the Civil Registry office, which for good measure are only respectively located in each Cuenca, Guayaquil and Quito (i.e. no other cities in Ecuador have Civil Registry offices and so its necessary to do so in one of the above referenced locations). By the way, these also are the only 3 cities in Ecuador where a person can under any circumstances obtain an Ecuadorian Cedula ID Card, Register the Birth of a Baby in Ecuador and/or get Married in Person here.

In any case, so as to Register one’s Foreign Marriage Certificate in Ecuador, the following requirements specifically apply:

– A Foreign Marriage Certificate that has either an original foreign issued apostille or legalization. All must first be translated and notarized in Ecuador if it is written in a language other than Spanish.

– A copy of each spouse’s identity documentation, if/how applicable. Copies of both spouses’ identity cards (i.e. Ecuadorian Cedulas and/or Passports) must be provided as well. Specifically, a copy of any Ecuadorian citizen’s Cedula card and copies of both spouses’ Passports are required when registering a Marriage between a Foreign national and an Ecuadorian citizen.

– The Power of Attorney original and a copy of it, if a third party legal representative (i.e. an Ecuadorian Attorney) is representing the spouses for this purpose.

Length of the process:

Depending on the circumstances at hand, plus per the Civil Registry office’s review and subsequent response relative to the documentation provided, the procedure could take anywhere from one to six (1-6) weeks to be formally recorded in Ecuador.

Example 1:  Registration of a Marriage between two residents of Ecuador, two citizens of another country (with residency), or an Ecuadorian citizen and a foreigner, as long as both have the civil status of “single” on their identity cards. The procedure in this case usually takes around 5 days in total.

Example 2: Foreign nationals who are already listed as Married on their Cedula cards register for Marriage. It is clear that they wish to formally recognize their Marriage to the same partner. Depending on how soon the Civil Registry office responds, this process could take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks. It will most definitely take at least seven working days since they must request a “negative response”, meaning that the spouses don’t already have any Marriage registration in their names. One must return to the Civil Registry office after receiving the negative responses in order to submit their request for a change of civil status in the database. Depending on the Civil Registry’s workload, this procedure could take up to 2 weeks. If Quito (where the central office is located) doesn’t answer right away, this step of the process could take up to 4 weeks. Finally, the Marriage is recorded in the organization’s database after the change of civil status has been accomplished. At the same time, a printed certificate can be ordered.

According to their immigration status, foreigners should register their Marriages in Ecuador for the following reasons and is actually required in several of the following circumstances:

  1. Tourists Married to Ecuadorians must register in order to apply for a Visa that will fall under the category of Permanent Residency.
  2. A Permanent Residency Visa gives its holder protection while they are abroad. For this type of Visa, registration of one’s Foreign Marriage Certificate is required.
  3. Visa Transfers – for residents whose Visas are safeguarded in a conjugal (Married) status, this registration may be optional; doing so would prevent Marriage applications being required from abroad as well as any accompanying (otherwise required) apostille or legalization of these type submissions.
  4. Orders for Ecuadorian Cedulas (“Cedulación” in Spanish) are made for residents who have spouse-sponsored Permanent Residency Visas; doing so would save Marriage applications from overseas from needing to be duly apostilled or legalized.
  5. Citizenship Procedures – this is necessary (required) for handling Ecuadorian Citizenship applications and thereby the foreigner also receives an Ecuadorian Passport.

NOTE: In ANY case with respect to the above reasons, before one begins the registration of their Foreign Marriage Certificate, the Marriage Certificate and therefore also the apostille or legalization of the document cannot be older than one year.

By all means, it’s highly suggestible in many (if not most) cases, to early on (i.e. sooner rather than later) register one’s Foreign Marriage Certificate in Ecuador, including as well in advance of one spouse expectedly or unexpectedly predeceasing the other spouse, so surely it’s best to send me an email to sara@ecuadorvisas.com as per your particular scenario if you’re curious, unsure and/or with knowledge of your specific situation being one of the types in which it’s necessary to or with good reason to get it done now.


Sara Chaca (Attorney - Abogada) is a seasoned Ecuadorian Lawyer, who principally serves Expats in making their moves to Ecuador for Visa and Legal matter purposes, as her Expat clients begin their new lives here in her beautiful country. Sara resides in Cuenca with her family, and when not working, she enjoys spending time with her family in Cuenca’s majestic Cajas Mountains, including the many local parks & fairs of Cuenca, plus visiting the coast as well as many gem towns of Ecuador. Sara’s personal email address is sara@ecuadorvisas.com and her law office's fully informative website is www.ecuadorvisas.com - her Ecuadorian cell phone number is 099-296-2065 and her Toll Free "800" phone number for US & Canadian callers is 1-(800)-655-1581. Sara has a less than 24 hour first response policy, in that if you email or call her, she WILL return your first email or first phone call in less than 24 hours (more typically in closer to 24 minutes!). Most importantly, all first time consultations with Expats for any type Visa or Legal matter(s) are always FREE OF CHARGE. VIEW ATTORNEY SARA CHACA'S SELF-PUBLISHED "KINDLE" BOOK ON MOVING TO ECUADOR, THAT'S AVAILABLE FOR YOUR PERUSAL ON AMAZON.COM HERE.




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