Hi, I??m Canadian and I??ll be getting married in Colombia in January! I??m excited about getting married but I??m nervous about dealing with the Canadian Embassy afterwards. So I??d love to hear any advice, tips or insight that some of you may have regarding (1) getting married in Colombia and (2) the process involved in getting my soon-to-be wife a visa to Canada.

Here??s my story: I was travelling in Colombia in 2007 and I met ??the woman of my dreams.? (I??m probably not the first guy in the world that that has happened to haha.) When I returned to Canada, my girlfriend and I kept in touch with daily emails and some phone calls. This year, I went back to Colombia and I lived with my girlfriend for 4 consecutive months in her city.

My girlfriend and I have known since our first few dates that we would be getting married to each other someday. Now in an ideal world, before tying the knot, I would prefer that my girlfriend visit Canada for a few weeks so that she could meet my family and friends. So, while I was with her in Colombia, my girlfriend applied for a tourist visa to Canada. But she was denied a visa because the Embassy believed that the temptation for her to stay in Canada would outweigh her reasons for returning to Colombia (since my girlfriend is self-employed and can work from anywhere in the world.) The truth is that my girlfriend comes from a financially secure family plus she has quite a few financial assets herself, and so she has no economic motivation to move to Canada. In fact, once we become husband & wife, we will be living a third of each year in Colombia because she is very close to her family . . . and heck, I don??t mind upgrading my climate during the Canadian winter months. :)

So issue #1 for me is my upcoming wedding in January. Eventually, my girlfriend wants a big Catholic wedding in a church, but the time is not right for me to bring all of my family and friends down to Colombia for a big wedding. So first, my girlfriend and I are going to get married in a civil ceremony. (And our big Catholic wedding will have to wait for a couple of years.)

So my wedding questions are:

Have any of you been married in a civil ceremony in Colombia?

Were there any surprises or obstacles that you experienced that I should keep in mind?

Are there any potential problems about going the civil wedding route in Colombia over doing the traditional religious ceremony? For example, does the Canadian Embassy legitimately accept a civil wedding as being just as valid as a religious wedding (in light of the fact that most Colombians are Catholic)?

Will the Canadian Embassy want to see evidence that we took our civil wedding seriously by asking us to provide, for example, copies of wedding invitations and photos etc. I??m a little worried that the Embassy might think that we??re having a ??shot-gun wedding? for visa purposes only, given the failure of my girlfriend??s application for a tourist visa a few short months ago.

Yesterday, I went to City Hall in Toronto and I was told that Ontario recognizes all weddings that take place in foreign countries so long as there is a marriage certificate. Has anybody had any problems in this regard? (i.e. getting a foreign wedding/marriage legally accepted in Canada?)

Issue #2 is the Canadian visa that my soon-to-be wife will be applying for after our wedding in January. When the Embassy rejected my girlfriend??s application for a Tourist Visa a few months ago, they said that she should not bother applying again unless her circumstances have significantly changed. Well in January, the applicant for the visa will no longer be my girlfriend, she will be my wife.

So my visa questions are:

After our wedding, I??ll get to work on the sponsorship papers for my spouse and she??ll apply for her permanent resident visa. But I??m wondering whether applying for a tourist visa (again) is also a viable option for my wife? . . . I mean, just as a short term solution to enable my wife to visit me and my family in Canada for a couple of months next summer? (while we play the pr visa waiting game.)

Any advance heads-up about avoiding potential pitfalls or excessive delays in the pr visa application process would be golden.

I know that I can print off and fill out all of the forms myself, but do you think that if I contacted my M.P.??s office that they could play a role in expediting the process?

Thanks for reading this very lengthy post . . . I know that I??m asking a lot here . . . but, really, any insight at all on any of these matters would be greatly greatly appreciated.



Posted on October 8, 2008

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Tom Joad.
I do not have the answers to your questions but I do want to wish you all the luck in the world. There are many here that will give you a straight answer. Good post and good luck

Posted on October 8, 2008

ever consider a "search" on this forum regarding same topic ?

Posted on October 8, 2008

congratulations Tom :))

Posted on October 8, 2008


because Canada hasnt signed some international treaties, the rules for you to getting married change, please email me to lawyerscolombia@yahoo.com, to explain you what´s the deal.

Esteban Rada
colombian lawyer

Posted on October 8, 2008

Not sure about any of the visa part to Canada. However, i am from the US and got married here. We had a civil wedding in San Andres island. At first we had planned to do it in Bucaramanga but when I found out all the paperwork that was needed we decided to go the easy route and do it there instead. There, the notary only requires a passport. Do a search on it and you find more details and why it is the easier place to get married.

Posted on October 8, 2008

I've heard really good things about getting married in San Andrés. We almost did but couldn't go though with it for several reasons. The lady we were in contact with was very nice and helpful: http://www.saiweddings.com/

Posted on October 8, 2008

I got married in a civil ceremony in el Quindio. There was some requirement that I post a notice in my hometown about the marriage such and such a time ahead of the marriage date. I was living in Medellin at the time so I think we posted it there.

Definitely speak with the judge who will be performing the ceremony ahead of time. I may have needed my birth certificate. Don't remember.

The judge we used did an atrocious ceremony, going on and on about all the legalities of marriage and divorce, a real pain in the ass. My advice is to minimize the legal ceremony and have a party separate from that.

Re/ tourist visa. Canada I don't know but the US embassy refused to give my wife a tourist visa and insisted we apply for the family immigrant visa.

Don't stress over the visa paperwork. :)

Posted on October 8, 2008

a very wise fellow posted on that subject;

Posted on October 8, 2008

Your timeline is nearly identicle to mine. Though I got married in the US. Anyway, good luck to you.

Posted on October 8, 2008

ive been there and done that ...as in im canadian...married in colombia and now in canada with my colombian wife....follow tompowers post and it will lead you where you need to go...also lots of info on here in old posts...good luck...and don,t listen to all the nay sayers...im happily married to my colombiana wife..

Posted on October 8, 2008

Looks like there are a few of us.... Also in Canada (Vancouver). Just put my apartment on the market, with a plan to live in Cartagena for 6-9 months with my girl starting early next year...

Posted on October 8, 2008

.follow tompowers post and it will lead you where you need to go

yes up the garden path ,as they say

Posted on October 8, 2008


Getting married in Colombia with a civil wedding is not such a big deal! That being said, I needed my divorce and birth certificates apostilled. We needed to wait about 10 days or so after applying for the marriage license. We also needed a translator from English to Spanish for the documents and well as at the ceremony. Those are really only the additional expenses over the regular ones. Shop around for Notarios to do the service as well as translators. You can save a bundle! We saved over 300.000 pesos by asking various people for their prices.

If your future wife expects your relatives to fly down to Colombia, you need to explain to her that your relatives don't have money. She needs to change her expectations. My wife said let's have a modest wedding ceremony. You will have to handle the problem or her expectations vs what is reality!

Posted on October 8, 2008

thanks to those who have wished me congratulations or good luck.

i'd also like to thank all those who offered some wedding tips based on their own experiences.

a special thanks to two Canadians, tompower and jinksmiester . . .

tompower, your past detailed post on your whole wedding & visa ordeal is very helpful to me.

ujay, why do you say that following tompower's post will lead me "up the garden path?"

jinksmiester, i also learned a lot from reading all of your old posts on this topic.

one question . . . do you guys know whether it's possible for my girlfriend to do (and receive) her required police certificates and medical certificate BEFORE our actual wedding date?

i'll be in colombia for two weeks before our wedding date, but then i'll be returning to canada a couple of days after our wedding, and so can we get the police and medical certifcates done when i'm with my girlfriend in Colombia a few days prior to our wedding? or do we have to be married first?



Posted on October 8, 2008

Because a civil ceremony here is so damn easy ,
Done it 3 times ,
I never wanted to go to the Notaries ,and then on to the reception,so I just asked the Notario to come and do it at the reception 6pm on a Saturday night ,gave him a backhand and it was set ,he turned up went though it all the same ,when we came to sign the paper was just a blank ,
But we were married ,we had to go later to sign in the Notaries,the wife went on the Monday ,I never went to do till over 3 months later.its Colombia ,you can do it any way you like.

And why tell them you are divorced,only another paper they will ask for ,just say your single,

Posted on October 8, 2008