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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.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.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

    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.

  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.


  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.


  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,

  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.



  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.


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

    I am from pakistan and living i spain for two and half husband have residence card but i didnt,as we were married in, 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 NULL.empleo NULL.gob 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 NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.html)
    – Residency by Settlement ( Arraigo Social ): (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.html)


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

    Hello Manjit

    You can read information about the specific financial requirements here: (http://www NULL.interior NULL.gob

    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.


  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.


  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.


  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

  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.


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