An irony is that many expat couples already have a validated and official marriage certificate on file in the office of Migración y Extranjería from the time they sought legal residency.
I recently went to renew my wife’s expiring Caja card and the clerk would not take a photocopy of my marriage license and insisted on registering my wife as my compañera. I have no idea what this might do in the event she needed treatment and some other bureaucrat decided relationships of that type were not covered.
When we were granted our residency a dozen years or so ago, the ministry gave our originals back. But now they were at the court being used for my wife’s adoption proceeding. I eventually got them back, but this time I had to have my lawyer write and formally request their return.
My advice to expats is work diligently to get your original documents returned to you whenever you have to produce them because new certified copies are very hard to come by these days. Treat your certified originals like they were gold.
So now I’m going back to the Caja with the certified original to see if she can manage to change my wife’s card to her correct legal status. She’ll no doubt look at the date on it and say oh my goodness, this is very old. Yes, I’ll agree, and so are we. But since we are required by law to come see you and we both have valid cédulas, please take care of this.
The frustrating part about Costa Rica is also a good thing other times: it all depends on the attitude of the clerk. If they want to be stubborn, nothing helps. If they want to be helpful, amazing things can be accomplished. I find that if I remember my manners and treat them courteously and in a friendly manner that things go very well. Still, I’ve known the lady at our Caja for a dozen years and she wasn’t budging, so you never know.