Barbados Red Tape Derails a Moment of Wedded Bliss

Barbados Red Tape Derails a Moment of Wedded Bliss

Wedded bliss, if you don't count the red tape (Yes, I'm barefoot. Fortunately, not pregnant too.) Photo by Brooks LaTouche in Barbados.

Picking up our Barbados marriage certificate … Well, um, we anticipate the rest of our married life will go more smoothly.

It went like this:

The magistrate who married us on January 9 told us to go to District Court A a week after our ceremony to pick up our marriage certificate.

Silly us.  We thought it would be a matter of actually doing just that.

Good thing Greg called first.

Greg dialed District Court A (DCA) on January 16.

DCA: “Hello. District Court A.”

Greg: “Yes, hello. My new wife and I were told by the magistrate who married us that we could pick up our marriage certificate from you a week following our marriage.”

DCA:  “You need to apply, sir.”

Greg:  “Maybe I wasn’t clear.  We have already married. We don’t need a marriage license.  We just want to pick up our marriage certificate. We were told we could drop by and get it.”

DCA:  “Right, sir. You need to come in, fill out a form, and apply.”

Greg: “Apply?  We need to apply in order to pick up the certificate?”

DCA: “Right, sir. You need to come in, fill out a form, and apply.”

Greg processed this information, was tempted to raise his voice, but ultimately surrendered. Deep breath. “How do I apply?”

DCA “Come to the Court between the hours of x and y Monday through Friday.  Bring the information.”

Greg: “Information? What information?”

DCA:  “When you were married. Where you were married. Who married you.”

Greg: “Okay, good.  We’ll do that.  Thank you for your time.”

DCA: “Don’t forget the fee.”

Greg: “Fee?”

DCA: “Yes. It’s $10 to apply. Cash.”

Greg:  “But I paid! I paid for the magistrate. I paid for the license. And I paid something called ‘cost of marriage’.  All I want to do is get our marriage certificate.”

DCA: “Right. Ten dollars is the marriage certificate application fee.”

Greg went to District Court A on January 16. He waited in line. He filled out the application form. He paid the fee. In cash. He was told the certificate would be ready “in about a day.”

He returned yesterday to District Court A, two weeks post-marriage and one week post-application, to pick up the certificate.

It wasn’t “quite ready.”

I say, “Hey, man, stay mellow.  Everything in Barbados works.  It just works in its own way at its own pace and at its own price.”

Greg says, “In the Caribbean, they can’t hear you scream.”



24 Responses to “Barbados Red Tape Derails a Moment of Wedded Bliss”

  1. Michelle says:

    Thanks for the warning! Sounds like a (kind of friendly) minefield to be naviagted!

  2. Jane says:

    Yes, it’s friendly. And you can’t get angry with the messengers … it’s not the clerks who made the Byzantine rules. Greg wondered why the magistrate didn’t tell us all the details of getting the certificate … I told him she probably had other things to do that day.

    The spirit of the Bajan citizen is good. It’s warm. To me, in the end, that’s far more important than how efficient the system is.

    (Good thing.)

  3. Ian Bourne says:

    Congrats to you and Mr Hoyos! You should have used a priest, not a magistrate and things would go faster! I was barefoot by end of my wedding day too!

  4. 199 says:

    Greg and Jane, you’ve got good patience. For that reason, I could n’t possibly, live in Bim again!! and I’m Bajan!! – don’t laugh!! :)

    Ian, somebody marry you?!!

    No, swearing now!!

    Lord!! :)

  5. Stephen says:

    Odd. When I married in St Michael, the reverend gave us the certificate at the end of the ceremony…, maybe it’s the beach that makes it different (I know it was for you!) and the need for the delay.

  6. planetbarbados says:

    What I understand from someone else who commented is that there’s a difference between getting married by a priest and a magistrate. Magistrate = Red Tape. Loved her, though, and wouldn’t trade the person we chose, even if it meant less bureaucracy.

  7. planetbarbados says:

    Wanted to comment on your second comment regarding the new US president. My blog isn’t a forum for political comment, but I will say that, in my view, the reason this particular person rose to the highest office in the land has nothing particular to do with the fact that he’s African-American versus a descendant of African slaves. Mr Obama is a man who rose to his position because of a particular alchemy of skill set, intelligence, sensitivity, backing, ambition, timing, and innumerable other things. I will say that for the first time in many, many, many years I’m truly proud to call myself an American. It was not the easiest thing to cast my ballot in Barbados for this election but I would have crawled through a desert to cast my ballot for Mr Obama.

  8. planetbarbados says:

    Thanks for the congrats! We’ve so far survived two weeks of marriage … I think we’re both still wrapping our minds around the reality of it, actually.

    Thx, too, for noting that the procedure for getting the marriage certificate is different with a priest than a magistrate … that’s good to know for when people ask me about getting married here.

    You’re reminding me that we need to follow up again this week on whether that darned certificate is ready yet! Gosh, what if District Court A turns down our application?!

  9. 199 says:

    Thanks for the reply, Jane although I’m amused by your comment of ‘not being political’ which, while I can understand your saying, I wonder if is truly, possible!!

    Best wishes!!

  10. planetbarbados says:

    Good point. Can any of us truly be not political? I try not to let politics enter this blog, but your point is well-taken and I admit to a certain amount of passion around the recent US election. (And not just bec our new prez is gorrrrgeous!)

  11. RedMan says:

    “they can’t hear you scream”
    Haha! Actually, no-one is listening!

  12. planetbarbados says:

    Ooooh, that’s what I’m afraid of!!

  13. 199 says:

    Thank you, ‘pb’, and cheerio!!

  14. Barbadienne says:

    I do not see what is the fuss about. Yes the magistrate should not have said picked up but used the word apply. I am a Barbadian who doesn’t live in Barbados anymore and I got married last August by a magistrate and i went down to the city and applied for my marriage certificate and in 2 days I went back to pick it up after paying a fee. I do not see the problem. The people who work at this office are actually very kind and did a lot of work on my behalf as I needed some extra things done to my marriage certificate.
    I am sad by some of these comments people only write something when something “bad” happens.
    I am sorry this story is being blown out of proportion. Everyone wants everything handed to them on a platter. In every country there is a bunch of paperwork do not make Barbados seem like this complicated place please.

  15. rainy says:

    My husband & I were married on Rockly Beach on December 16, 2004. Now 2009 the irs is telling us that our marriage is not valid. Does anyone know anyting about this. The IRS told us that the us does not recognize British Law. I do not believe this to be true.

  16. Yikes! I’d say it’s time to get a lawyer! I’ll check into this myself as well; it’s quite concerning. Thx for the heads-up.

  17. rainy says:

    I checked on the Department of States website and they refer you to the state that you live in. I work for a maritime law firm and none of the attorneys here believe that the marriage is not valid. I am checking with the State of Michigan where we live. Barbados is my favorite island. It is just wonderful, as my grandpartents are west indian and we grew up visiting various islands in the carribbean. I have enjoyed reading your website. I was there last year with my family and we went to the beach where my husband and I were married. It was the most romantic moment of my life. I too got married barefoot. It rained in the morning and the sun came out that afternoon. People who have never experienced Barbados will never understand your love affair with the island.

  18. rainy says:

    Just an update on the legality of the marriage. In Michigan the marriage is valid. I spoke with someone from the State of Michigan and Michigan does honor the marriage. There is no need to register anything in Michigan. If anyone asks, I was told to show them our marriage license from Barbados. What a relief.

  19. planetbarbados says:

    Thank you! I will have to check on the state of California. Of course, as you know, pretty much anything goes in California … particularly if it’s done in a hot tub :)

  20. Noah Martin says:

    i just thought that married life is the happiest point of my life.*.,

  21. Claire says:

    Interesting point here. In Bim if you are married by a vicar/priest, whether in a church or not, they usually undertake the job of applying for the marriage certificate for you. The certificate you generally sign in the church isn’t actually a valid marriage certificate, it is only a copy of the church’s register. I discovered this, after some thirty years of marriage, when I applied for citizenship.

  22. Oh my goodness, after 30 years of marriage you found out that the certificate you thought was your marriage certificate wasn’t? What a misadventure! I hope everything worked out all right, Claire!

    Thanks for writing with this cautionary tale!

  23. Claire says:

    Jane, it got better. Turns out our priest didn’t register our marriage either. The people at the registry were very sweet about it though and very polite but I had to jump through a few extra hoops to get my marriage registered and THEN get an official certificate. It was an interesting experience, to say the least – going to register my marriage with my granddaughter in tow.

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