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tying the knot: marriage license requirements

Marriage Requirements for Costa Rica

Residency Requirement: None

Necessary Documents: Passport valid for at least six months; certified copy of your birth certificates; certified copy of your police record; affidavit of single status; official copy of divorce decree or death certificate of former spouse if one or both parties has been previously married; marriage certificate issued by the Costa Rican Civil Registry

Note: Issuance of Costa Rican marriage certificate normally takes 4-6 weeks. Costa Rican marriage license must be authenticated and translated into English by an official translator of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The certificate must also be notarized and signed by the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section and there is a $32 fee for this service. These steps may be performed by a Costa Rican attorney. To marry in Costa Rica, you must be at least 18 years old or have consent from your parents. If the bride has been previously married, she must wait 300 days after her divorce or the death of her husband before she can remarry. Women must also take a pregnancy test, administered by the Supreme Court of Costa Rica at the Forensic Medicine Office, (506) 295-3000. If the test is negative, there is no waiting period.

For More Info: U.S. Embassy Consular Section, visit http://usembassy.or.cr/consfaq.html or call (506) 220-3050

mexico honeymoon - costa rica

Central America: Costa Rica

If white-water rafting, rainforest excursions, and deep-sea fishing are on your honeymoon must-do list, then look no further -- Costa Rica is the perfect destination for newlyweds who love nature and crave adventure.

Photo: Costa Rica Tourist Board

With two breathtaking coasts only a short plane ride away from each other -- one on the Pacific, the other on the Caribbean -- Costa Rica is the perfect destination for couples looking for an adventure/beach mix. The country, slightly smaller than West Virginia, includes amazing mountaintop views and volcanic cones in its interior (there are four major volcanoes in Costa Rica, only two of which are active), and sun-baked stretches of white-sand beaches as well as verdant jungles alive with exotic wildlife on the coasts. Even if you and your dearly wedded have totally opposite honeymoon styles, Costa Rica�s natural beauty and variety make it a very appealing option.

In a Word: Unspoiled

Though deforestation once threatened the country's dense rainforests, several nature preserves, biological reserves, and national parks have been established to protect Costa Rica's landscape -- which are now many of the country�s best attractions.

Costa Rica is also less commercialized than many other honeymoon locales. Of course, there is a Four Seasons, but ecotourism is very popular in Costa Rica, making less traditional but equally luxurious eco-lodges and rainforest bungalows a desirable (and romantic) alternative. Set amid the country's lush tropical forests, these accommodations offer travelers the opportunity to truly experience the beauty of their surroundings.

before you go: need-to-know info

Entry Requirements: Valid passport

Language: Spanish, Limited English

Currency: Costa Rican colon (US $1 = CR $498)

Flight Time: 6 hours from NYC, 6-7 hours from LA, 4 hours from Houston, 6 hours from Chicago

Taxes: 16.3% at hotels; 13% at restaurants

Tipping: Restaurants always include a 10% service charge on your bill, so additional tipping is optional.

Getting Around: Rental car, taxi, bus

More Info: Costa Rican Tourism Board, www.visitcostarica.com, (800) 343-6332

Why We'd Go: 4 Features You'll Never Forget

  • Adventure: Thanks to Costa Rica's rich and diverse landscape, adventure is always nearby. If you're ready for something daring, try bungee jumping in San Jose, rappelling in La Fortuna, or zip-lining in Hacienda Bar�. Those looking for a more mild rush should try deep-sea fishing in Quepos, horseback riding in Montezuma, or windsurfing in Lake Arenal.

  • Wildlife: Costa Rica's fertile terrain is also home to a vibrant plant and animal population, making the country a popular lab site for biologists. Nature-loving honeymooners can enjoy turtle watching along the Caribbean coast and in the North Pacific, and whale watching in the South Pacific. Exotic birds abound throughout the country's rainforests, and spotting a howler monkey or a sloth makes treks into the jungle even more worthwhile.

  • Coffee: If you relish a good cup of java, then you'll love Costa Rica. The country is famous for its coffee, which is rich in both quality and caffeine, and noted for its slightly bitter taste. Their brew is so good that most natives enjoy between three and five cups a day -- they even serve it with burgers at fast-food restaurants.

  • Ticos: Costa Ricans, or ticos as they refer to themselves, are known worldwide for their friendly demeanor. Maybe it's because they live in one of the few countries without a standing army, or simply because they live in such a naturally beautiful environment. Whatever the reason, ticos are always quick and happy to help a traveler in need.

Where to Stay: The Best of the Rainforest

  • Hotel La Mariposa in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica
    Situated on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this intimate hotel has stunning views. Honeymooners looking for some much-needed postwedding relaxation should stay in a premier suite and enjoy the breathtaking scene from a private balcony. Manuel Antonio National Park is not far from the hotel (Mariposa provides a free shuttle) and offers a wide range of activities for newlyweds who need a little more action. Whatever your style, be sure to enjoy the incredible sunsets (and cocktails) by the pool! Rooms: $$$, Hotel La Mariposa, (800) 549-0157 or (800) 549-6440

  • Lapa Rios in Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
    Located in the South Pacific region of the country on the Osa Peninsula, this eco-lodge features 16, bamboo-furnished bungalows set along the beaches and rainforests of Corcovado National Park. In addition to offering amazing accommodations, Lapa Rios is also a nature preserve that protects and sustains the 100 acres of lush lowlands it occupies. Explore nearby rainforest trails with one of the reserve's guides before returning to your candlelit hideaway -- perfect for honeymoon romance. Lapa Rios' bungalows should be booked several months in advance. Rooms: $$$$, Lapa Rios, 011-506-735-5130 or 011-506-735-5281

When to Go: Costa Rica at its Best

Best weather: December to April is Costa Rica's dry season, except on the Caribbean coast where it rains throughout the year. The temperature and humidity vary with altitude -- both are much higher along the coasts than in San Jose.

-- Jeanine Edwards

See More: Mexico, Baja + C. America