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Home > Uncategorized > Getting Married In Spain: General Overview and Legal Issues For Foreigners In Irregular Situation

Getting Married In Spain: General Overview and Legal Issues For Foreigners In Irregular Situation

August 27th, 2013

It is a fact that most foreigners deciding to marry in Spain choose to engage legal representation to guide them through the legal aspects of their marriage  (a procedure that may appear to be -deceitfully- as straightforward as applying for a NIE), the reasons behind this decision being clear: legal and administrative complex laws and regulations, protracted timescales, unexpected requirements from Government offices, language barrier…etc.

The process to be followed for the validation and correct attestation by the different authorities abroad often leads to a tiring and exasperating process. There is not an homogeneous approach nor consensus in the listing of the required documentation and, in all fairness, Spanish authorities are not to be fully blamed for each country has different rules: for instance, a German citizen that wants to celebrate his/her marriage in Spain will not only need a birth and marital status certificate, but also a marriage capacity certificate that indicates if he/she is particularly able to marry the person chosen. This also happens to French citizens. For other nationalities, mainly those from Islamic countries, a certificate that states the applicant is not married to someone else will also be required as, in some of those jurisdictions, polygamy is legally recognized.

Therefore, it is not possible to offer a definitive time-frame for the process to be ended though, at least, these are the confirmed stages, common to the core procedure:

  1. Formal application form that has to be filed at the Civil Registry of the town where the union will take place, to be filed together with the documentation.
  2. Interview to bride and groom.
  3. Appointment with witnesses that will jointly sign the petition to the Judge.
  4. Obtaining the authorization from the Courts of Justice of the particular town so the marriage can be celebrated.

Following this authorization, available dates are offered to the couple.

Another relevant issue is the question hundreds of foreigners ask themselves every year, especially those who are in an irregular situation in Spain and wish to formalize their personal relationship with a Spanish resident:

Can I still marry in Spain if I am irregular?

The answer to this, which  has not changed for many years, is YES. And additionally, the law also grants equal rights to civil law partnership although, as envisaged, formalities will differ depending on the town where partners wish to register such formalization:

  • Some municipalities issue temporary by-laws based on recent irregularities, or either set fixed limitations as a consequence. For instance, only processing marriages and not Common Law partnerships for irregular foreigners ( see Cataluña (http://sociedad NULL.elpais NULL.com/sociedad/2012/05/01/actualidad/1335899751_106907 NULL.html)).
  • Some municipalities set that it is mandatory that one of the parties has been registered in the Town Hall ( empadronado ) for at least two years. This happens, for example, in the City of Malaga and surrounding districts ( Alhaurin de la Torre, Churriana, etc )

In line with the above, a further question that arises is

If a partner is in Spain irregularly and getting out of Spain implies the prohibition to re-enter in the following 12 months, how will he/she be able to arrange and gather the required documentation and legalization from the foreign authorities?

There are various options:

  1. Granting a Power of Attorney to his/her relatives or a legal representative in the home country to make dealings in his/her behalf.*
  2. Requesting assistance from Consular and/or diplomatic offices representing their home country in Spain.

*For Moroccan citizens, the previous registration of the applicant in the consulate is required to be able to deal with administrative matters. The applicant must have been registered ,normally, between 6 months and a year prior to any administrative request.

The current Policy framework allows for an ample discretionary nature on the part of the Civil Registries when determining the requirements, something that pushes foreigners to finally seek for legal aid and support,

Below is a list of the most commonly required documentation, as well as the legalization procedure for foreign official documents to be valid in Spain:

  1. Official Application form
  2. Passport copy of each partner
  3. Copy of the Residence card/certificate of the residing party
  4. Certificate of Town Hall Registration ( Empadronamiento ) and Joint Registration certificate (volante de Convivencia ), if required.
  5. Birth certificates of each partner ( attested as legally required and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator )
  6. Marital Status certificate and marriage capacity certificate for certain nationalities.

We include here the informative page (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/informacioninteres/informacionprocedimientos/documentos2/108 NULL.pdf) that describes in detail the foreign documents legalization process.

We welcome readers’ comments on particular obstacles, exceptional requirements, frustrating experiences and any other similar circumstances they may have found themselves in when dealing with the subject matter of this post.

About Patricia Martin

Patricia is a legal executive at Lawbird, and specialises in company incorporation and immigration. More on .

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  1. Mouna
    October 30th, 2016 at 17:14 | #1

    Hello I’m seeking information I am a American citizen and I would like to marry a citizen of Spain.I would like to know is it necessary to return to the USA after marrying

  2. Tola
    November 14th, 2016 at 21:28 | #2

    Hello!
    I am impressed by the good answers you are giving here for quiet a while now.
    I am a German citizen. In Spain in met my boyfriend. He is from Venezuela. within the last 15 years he had several tarjetas de trabajo y residencia. But the last time he appliedfor it it got denied. We want him to finally live in a regular situation to be able to work and study.
    Right now he lives with me in Germany but officially is still registered in Spain.
    We are about to apply for marriage here. After our information there is the possibility to consult the German authorities in Spain while already holding the date to marry and then ask for a visum. With that he would “out” himslef as an irregular. And we are not sure if that would work out or not.
    Now i heard that if I work there for 6 months i could marry him there.
    We really could use some information on that topic and how to act.
    Sincerely,
    Tola

  3. Patricia Martin
    November 15th, 2016 at 15:39 | #3

    Hello Tola

    Thanks for your comments and kind words.

    In the event you finally marry your partner he will easily get a residence card in Spain if you decide to settle in this country, which means you need to register as a resident. He will have to be sure he meets the financial criteria ( a work offer, registering as self-employed or getting more the 3.000 € per month from a work activity in another country ), and that your marriage certificate has been correctly legalized and translated into Spanish.

    Spain does not have a fiancé visa, which means that while he is in a marriage process but not actually married yet ( i.e waiting for his marriage license from Germany ), his status is still irregular.

    As soon as you are married, you can both settle in Spain, and apply for his residence card as a relative of an EU citizen. He will be granted 3 months to do this.

    Regards,

  4. Tola
    November 16th, 2016 at 22:23 | #4

    @Patricia Martin

    Tanks for your fast answer. I didnt expect that.
    The main problem we encounter is the marriage itself.
    I dont see to many ways for us to get to that point. Just the two ways i described before. But I am not sure if they could work out. I would be glad to get some advice about how to act on that. Should we give it a try and ask for the visa for marriage here out of sapin? If they say “no” could that come with bigger consequences like them sending him “back to his country”?
    Its soothing to know that after that we could live a normal life in Spain. How about Germany though?
    I wish you a great day!

  5. Patricia Martin
    November 17th, 2016 at 11:59 | #5

    Hello Tola

    I don’t have any information about Immigration requirements in Germany, and whether they have a fiance visa, but I can confirm we do not have such option in Spain.

    If you decide to marry in Spain, the authorities will be flexible and not deport him while he is waiting to get married, though he needs to be sure he has the marriage application documentation at hand in case he is ever asked for his documentation. He won´t be considered to be in a valid stay status but he will be allowed time to marry and obtain the corresponding residence card.

    Regards,

  6. Danis
    December 28th, 2016 at 22:03 | #6

    Hi Patricia, can you give me contact details for somebody who can advise me on irregular marriage in Portugal?
    We do not know anybody there and it is impossible to find any information.
    We are almost desperate.
    Thanks Danis

  7. Lucia Asif
    April 11th, 2017 at 15:02 | #7

    Good Afternoon Patricia,

    I Am following this Blog since long time ago And honestly, this is the only helpful site I found on the internet. I really appreciate your work and the time you spend to help others.

    Getting this opportunity I would like to ask few questions.

    I am 37 weeks pregnant and living in Malaga Spain and my partner living in U.K and he applied for his resident
    permit there since Dec when I was living in U.K on the base of relationship with Spanish National and he received the first letter from the home office that they received his application.
    But due to some serious health issues and housing problems, I had to come in Spain and now I have to give Birth here and I want my Partner to come here as well but we can’t find any way to get him here as he doesn’t have a resident permit in U.K and he is still waiting.
    If you can guide me that can he register his name as our baby s father from U.K and can he travel to Spain after registering his name as Father of our baby. I have a track record in Uk about midwife and hospital where His name is mentioned as the father.
    How can I get him here in Spain if he still doesn’t get his resident card and can he come after baby born?

    We have a religious marriage certificate as well from London but it does not register from registry office so its like we are married but not registered marriage.

    Please help me in this complicated situation I will be so Thankful to you.

    Many Thanks,
    Lucia

  8. Patricia Martin
    April 17th, 2017 at 11:46 | #8

    Hello Lucia

    If you are not married, he needs to be present when the baby is born. Otherwise, the baby cannot be registered in his name.

    I am afraid I cannot help you. I recommend him to make an enquiry at the Spanish embassy to see if there is a way around it.

    Regards,

    Patricia

  9. ali
    April 25th, 2017 at 20:23 | #9

    Hi patricia
    could you explain me procedure of marriage with spainish girl.I am illegal in spain arrived in spain 2 days ago.thanks

  10. Patricia Martin
    April 26th, 2017 at 12:31 | #10

    Hello Ali,

    The procedure involves preparing a set of documents and filing them at the Civil Registry where you intend to marry. Some Registries will request you two to have been registered at the Town hall for at least two years. Other registries are more flexible and do not have such requirements.

    Once the marriage application and documents have been filed, you need to wait for an interview and a few weeks after be appointed for the Judge´s authorization and if positive, choose a wedding date. The procedure can take up to 8 months in total.

    I recommend you to make an inquiry at the CR where you and your partner reside.

    Regards

  11. Zirwa
    May 10th, 2017 at 00:22 | #11

    @was
    Hi
    I am from pakistan and living i spain for two and half years.my husband have residence card but i didnt,as we were married in pakistan.now, i am a mother of a four months old baby.
    Please help me out that could i get my residence card on base of giving birth to a child.

  12. Manjit singh
    May 10th, 2017 at 00:47 | #12

    How much monthly salary if I have than I can apply Spain tourist visa in Abu Dhabi

  13. Patricia Martin
    May 10th, 2017 at 14:14 | #13

    Hello Zirwa

    Your husband must apply for your child´s residence card based on the fact he is already a Spanish resident. You can find detailed information here:http://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja058/index.html (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja058/index NULL.html)

    There are no financial requirements for this authorization.

    In your case, your husband can apply for a Family reunion permit, which will involve you having to go back to Pakistan, as the visa will be issued there so you can enter Spain as a resident and apply for the actual card. Also, you may consider remaining in the same situation for six more months and apply for a settlement residence permit, that can be applied for from Spain and you won´t be required to go back to Pakistan. You can find more information about these types of permit applications here:

    – Family Reunion ( Reagrupacion familiar ) :http://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja012/index.html (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja012/index NULL.html)
    – Residency by Settlement ( Arraigo Social ):http://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja036/index.html (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/Ciudadanosnocomunitarios/hoja036/index NULL.html)

    Regards,

  14. Patricia Martin
    May 10th, 2017 at 14:28 | #14

    Hello Manjit

    You can read information about the specific financial requirements here: http://www.interior.gob.es/web/servicios-al-ciudadano/extranjeria/regimen-general/entrada-requisitos-y-condiciones (http://www NULL.interior NULL.gob NULL.es/web/servicios-al-ciudadano/extranjeria/regimen-general/entrada-requisitos-y-condiciones)

    Current regulations state that a minimum of 70.77 € per day and per person must be available with a minimum of 636.93 € or its legal equivalent in foreign currency. Certified Bank letters, certified bank checks, travel checks, credit cards and cash will be accepted to meet the financial requirements.

    Regards,

  15. marthias
    July 18th, 2017 at 21:19 | #15

    i am a nigerian studying in poland, my girlfriend is spanish and she lives in spain. i want to know the requirement i need to marry her in spain. thank you

  16. nel
    August 4th, 2017 at 18:45 | #16

    hello dear patricia,

    i arrived here in spain 3 weeks now i came from philippines now we are going to apply or to hav NIE but i have a question we got married with my husband in philippines he is a spanish citizen are we going to registered our marriage here?where?how?or its already registered here thankyou

  17. Patricia Martin
    August 8th, 2017 at 13:40 | #17

    Hello Nel

    You can go to the Civil Registry and apply to have your marriage registered.Nevertheless, it is not a requirement for you to apply for the residence card as the relative of an EU citizen.The Immigration office only requires the foreign marriage certificate is legalised by the Spanish embassy and translated into Spanish.

    Regards,

  18. Patricia Martin
    August 8th, 2017 at 13:46 | #18

    Hello Marthias,

    You can marry your girlfriend in Spain. You need to go to the Civil Registry and apply for the Judge´s authorization to marry, They will ask you to file a set of documents: Birth certificates, marital status certificates, Passport photocopies and town hall registration certificate indicating your address in Spain. Also, there are some forms you need to fill out ( the CR will hand them to you ), including the sworn declaration of not having another spouse in Spain.

    All foreign documents must be correctly legalized by the issuing country´s authorities, Spanish consular office and then translated into Spanish. Once the judge authorizes the marriage application you will be given various dates to choose from. This can take a few months.

    Regards,

  19. Zahira
    August 11th, 2017 at 10:54 | #19

    Hi Patricia
    I’m actually in Spain in irregular situation since my residence permit from Greece expired the 31 of July 2017, because I’m waiting for the appointment for the marriage. me and my partner who is an Algerian with residence permit in Spain, he is leaving here since 17 years ago, we applied for marriage at the justice court from MARCH, in mid April they called us for interview in the police office for extranjeros, after that interview I went back to Greece to finish my studies. in MAY they called my partner to ask him for some papers and pictures showing that we are together for long time, he went and give them the documents.In June again they called him from the court of justice telling him that our application got Ok, but because they are full and don’t have appointment until October they transferred our application to the civil register to get married there. Me i came here from the 23 June 2017 waiting for their call for the appointment to get married and leave after.I want to ask you if I will have trouble in the airport the day I will leave because my residence permit expired? and after getting married how many time will take to get the papers and became regular? should we apply for Arraigo social or Reagrupacion familiar?
    Thank you in advance
    regards

  20. Zahira
    August 11th, 2017 at 11:18 | #20

    Hi Ptricia
    I want just to add that in the day of the interview in the police office for foreigner (extranjeros) they give me NIE.

  21. Patricia Martin
    August 11th, 2017 at 12:54 | #21

    Hello Zahira

    You can leave the country with an expired visa, but they may fine you for overstaying. When you mention they gave you a NIE, you mean they assigned you a NIE number I believe. It is not a permit to stay, but your ID as a foreigner for any administrative purpose.

    Once you are married, your partner can apply for the Reagrupacion Familiar residence permit for you. He must file the application personally at the Immigration office.

    Regards

  22. Nirmal
    August 28th, 2017 at 12:35 | #22

    I am currently on a short stay schengen visa in Spain and planning to submit the application to get married to my Spanish girl friend. However, the authorities advise us that the process will take couple of months and by that time my short stay schengen visa will be expired. Since the application is processing will I be able to stay legally in the country although my visa will run out in a month or so? or do i have to leave the country and get back? Kindly advise. Thanks in advance.

  23. Patricia Martin
    September 8th, 2017 at 14:24 | #23

    Hello Nirmal

    The Spanish authorities are well aware that a marriage application procedure can take a while to be processed, so if they stop you but you can prove ( by means of documented evidence) that you are waiting for the marriage authorization, they will probably let you stay. They might consider to fine you for overstay, but that depends on them.

    In theory, you need to go back yo your country after 3 months and re-enter three months later the earliest.

    Regards,

  24. Zahira
    September 16th, 2017 at 13:17 | #24

    Dear Patricia

    I already wrote you just up.
    We got married me and my partner, and this Monday we will get libro de familia from the civil register of Torrevieja.
    What are the necessary documents for the family union.

    Thank you very much
    Best regrads

  25. Agustin
    September 19th, 2017 at 03:14 | #25

    Hola Patricia, estuve leyendo todo el hilo y me parecen excelentes las respuestas que brindas, asi que decido consultarte. Mi situacion es la siguiente: Soy Argentino, nacionalizado Portugues (poseo un pasaporte portugues vigente) debido a que mi abuelo nacio en Portugal.
    Mi novia es Canadiense y hemos decidido ir a España para casarnos y vivir alli.
    Mis preguntas son las siguientes:
    -Debo yo como Portugues poseer algun tipo de permiso para casarme en España? Lease permiso de residencia o similar. (Por ahora solo he estado en el pais unos meses y nunca me he registrado).
    -Que requerimientos vamos a enfrentar para casarnos?
    -Puede ella pedir una extension de su visa de turista debido a los motivos de casarnos?
    -En dicho caso, esa visa le permite trabajar?
    -Si concretamos el matrimonio, ella puede aplicar para una visa de residencia?
    -Como se procede para aplicar para dicha visa?
    -Tenes algun link con informacion sobre las distintas visas a las que podria aplicar una persona en su situacion?
    -Cualquier consejo o comentario con respecto a nuestra situacion va a ser muy apreciado.

    Desde ya te agradezco muchisimo y espero no sea una gran molestia todas mis preguntas.
    Saludos, Agustin.

  26. Agustin
    September 19th, 2017 at 03:16 | #26

    Debo agregar que ella no se encuentra en una situacion irregular, solo paseamos por alli y nunca tuvo un overstay (pido disculpas si por este motivo mi comentario no se encuentra en el post correcto, pero solo encontre este).
    Gracias nuevamente.

  27. Patricia Martin
    September 19th, 2017 at 09:29 | #27

    Hello Zahira,

    I believe you are enquiring about the Residence card as the relative of an EU citizen.

    You can check all the requirements and information about the procedure clicking on the link below:

    http://extranjeros.empleo.gob.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/CiudadanosComunitarios/hoja103/index.html (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/CiudadanosComunitarios/hoja103/index NULL.html)

    The core documents are the marriage certificate, the town hall registration certificate and proof of your financial situation. Also, remember that the EU citizen must hold his/her residence registration certificate.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email.

    Regards,

  28. Patricia Martin
    September 19th, 2017 at 09:52 | #28

    Hola Agustín,

    El primer paso seria registrarte como residente en España, y dado que eres europeo, no es un trámite complicado. Lo principal es que estés empadronado en un municipio ( y que empadrones a tu pareja contigo), y aportar documentación acerca de tu situación financiera y laboral. Si no trabajas en España, y tus recursos económicos provienen de una actividad que desarrollas fuera de España, deberás acreditar estar en posesión de un Seguro médico privado que ofrezca todas las coberturas posibles y no tenga copagos por servicios. Lo mejor es contratar con una aseguradora española, ya que no todas las extranjeras están reconocidas.

    Tras presentar la solicitud y la documentación requerida en la comisaría de policía, te darán una pequeña tarjeta plastificada de color verde claro, que es el certificado de Registro de Ciudadano de la Unión Europea, el cual te acredita como residente. Te pedirán esta tarjeta y tu volante de empadronamiento para poderos casar, además de los documentos típicos que se solicitan para el trámite: Certificados de nacimiento, de estado civil y declaración jurada de no tener otro cónyuge. Ten en cuenta que la solicitud judicial para poderos casar puede tardar unos meses y que una vez aprobada, las fechas que os den para elegir pueden ser también a varios meses vista.

    Una vez estéis casados y hayais obtenido vuestro certificado de matrimonio en el Registro Civil, tu esposa tendrá la oportunidad de poder solicitar la tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar comunitario en la Oficina de Extranjeros de la provincia que corresponda. El documento principal que debéis aportar será el certificado de matrimonio, y un certificado emitido por las autoridades canadienses en las que reconocen el matrimonio como válido. El resto de la documentación será similar a la que te pidieron para solicitar tu certificado de registro de Ciudadano de la UE. Esta tarjeta le permitirá residir y trabajar en España durante cinco años. Tras ese periodo, podrá solicitar la Tarjeta de Residencia Permanente.

    Mientras realizáis las gestiones previas al matrimonio, tu pareja podrá estar en España aunque hayan pasado tres meses, ya que las autoridades suelen ser flexibles en esas circunstancias. En respuesta a tu pregunta acerca de un visado que la acredite para trabajar mientras os casáis, me temo que no es posible. Ni es posible pedir una extensión de validez visado.

    Espero haber aclarado tus dudas. Si necesitas más información no dudes en enviarme un correo electrónico.

    Un saludo

  29. Zahira
    September 23rd, 2017 at 12:46 | #29

    Dear Patricia

    Thank you very much for the time that you are giving to answer the questions.
    So I don’t need an application for family union?
    The application will be directly for the residence card?

    I remind you that my residence permit from Greece expired in the 31 of July 2017.

    Thank you in advance.
    Best regards

  30. Jen
    September 25th, 2017 at 08:01 | #30

    Dear Patricia,
    Hi Im Jen, a filipina. And I have a Spanish national fiance. just want to ask if marriage by proxy possible in Spain.? If possible, can I apply for family reunification?

  31. Patricia Martin
    September 26th, 2017 at 10:17 | #31

    Hello Jen,

    Yes, it is possible to marry by proxy in Spain. Once the marriage has been registered, you can apply for a visa to travel to Spain to reunite with your spouse and apply for the relevant residence card as the relative of an EU citizen.

    You can ask your Spanish fiancé to approach the closest Civil Registry and get a list of the required documentation. You will have to appoint a proxy in Spain for the purpose.

    Regards,

  32. Sandeep Rathore
    October 16th, 2017 at 09:39 | #32

    Dear Patricia,

    I am Sandeep Rathore from india. I am married to spanish citizen.We have done all the formalities for registering a marriage in spain. after my interview india she also done interview in spain. its been 2 months 15 days after her interview. I long it takes to receive marriage certificate and family book from registrar office

  33. Patricia Martin
    October 16th, 2017 at 12:12 | #33

    Hello Sandeep

    I understand you have married by proxy. This type of marriage registration can take longer, though I cannot ascertain how long. I recommend you to contact the Spanish embassy and make an inquiry.

    Regards,

  34. Helen
    November 13th, 2017 at 07:45 | #34

    For civil marriage in Barcelona, Spain between a Canadian and a Spanish citizen.
    When collecting the Canadian documents in Canada could you please confirm that this is the correct order of preparation for these documents- please note which if any also require notarizarion.
    Long form birth certificate, marriage search, letter from elections canada confirming historical domicile in Canada.
    1- Be authenticated by Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    2- Be legalized by the Spanish Consulate in Toronto
    3- Be translated from English to Spanish in Spain by certified translator

    What besides translation is required of the documents obtained from the Canaidian Consulate in Barcelona (In Lieu of Non-Impediment to Marry, Sworn Statement of Single Status, Non Posting of Banns in Canada)
    Also does passport require translation only?
    Your assistance/advice is greatly appreciated!

  35. Patricia Martin
    November 14th, 2017 at 10:19 | #35

    Hello Helen

    The legalization steps you have mentioned are correct. I understand the Canadian consulate can issue documents in Spanish, so initially I can´t see the need for further translations. A passport is never translated.

    Regards,

  36. Didie
    November 16th, 2017 at 12:52 | #36

    Hello Patricia thanks for your work here on this blog. We submitted our documents to marry and have an appointment for the interview but the problem is none of us can speak any better Spanish. We are living in Malaga and wants to know if there is the need to get our own interpreter for the appointment or we will get an interpreter there on the day of the appointment. We speak English. Thanks

  37. Patricia Martin
    November 16th, 2017 at 13:00 | #37

    Hello Didie,

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    If possible, take an interpreter with you, as registry officers rarely speak English.

    Regards,

  38. Didie
    November 16th, 2017 at 14:09 | #38

    Thanks for your time and help as well I appreciate that @Patricia Martin

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