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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. Gerry
    January 31st, 2018 at 15:48 | #1

    Hi Patricia,
    I would like to know if it is possible to marry my Spanish boyfriend through a power of attorney, I live in Philippines and Spain do not have a Fiance visa. Please let me know the process. Thank you.

  2. Patricia Martin
    February 9th, 2018 at 14:47 | #2

    We understand that a Marriage by Proxy is the type of procedure leading to celebrate the marriage of two individuals who, for several reasons, are in different places/countries at the time, being it impossible for both partners to be together in the actual celebration of the act. The usual reason is the inability to obtain a short stay visa for the non EU citizen to travel to Spain and marry. A Power of Attorney will allow someone in Spain act in behalf of the person who is in an overseas country, representing the spouse and signing during the act in the presence of the Civil Registry officer.

    The Article 55 of the Spanish Civil Code establishes the following:
    “The record of the marriage may authorize that the prospective spouse who does not reside in the district or district of the authorizing Judge, Mayor or officer may enter into the marriage by means of an attorney who has been granted a special power of attorney in an authentic instrument, but the personal attendance of the other spouse shall always be required. The power of attorney shall determine the person with whom the marriage is to be performed, expressing the personal circumstances necessary to establish his identity. The power of attorney shall be terminated as a result of revocation by the grantor, resignation of the attorney or the death of either of them. In the event of revocation by the grantor, his statement in an authentic instrument prior to the performance of the marriage shall be sufficient for these purposes. Notice of such revocation shall be immediately given to the authorising Judge, Mayor or officer.”

    These are the required documents for each of the spouses:

    – Full Birth certificate ( Certificado de nacimiento Literal ).*
    – Marriage capacity certificate, or Marital status certificate, which confirm the person intending to marry has full capacity to get married and is not married to anyone else.*
    – Certification confirming whether the non-Spanish spouse´s national Law requires the publication of marriage banns before the marriage authorization is granted.*
    – Spouses ID: passports, national ID cards, residence cards.
    – Corresponding marriage application form.

    *Note that all foreign certificates must be accordingly legalized ( via Hague apostille or diplomatic legalization at the Spanish embassy, depending on the particular country ) and then translated into Spanish by a Spanish sworn translator if the document is not in Spanish.

  3. Patricia Martin
    February 9th, 2018 at 14:56 | #3

    @Sandeep Rathore
    Hi Sandeep

    The fact that you can prove your marriage, allows your to travel with your spouse within the EU in accordance with EU regulations ( (https://eumovement NULL.wordpress ).

    The embassy should allow you get a visa based on that Law.

    These are the key points of the EU directive:

    EU citizens with a valid identity card or passport may:
    • Enter another EU country, as may their family members – whether EU citizens or not – without requiring an exit or entry visa.
    • Live in another EU country for up to 3 months without any conditions or formalities.
    • Live in another EU country for longer than 3 months subject to certain conditions, depending on their status in the host country. Those who are employed or self-employed do not need to meet any other conditions. Students and other people not working for payment, such as those in retirement, must have sufficient resources for themselves and their family, so as not to be a burden on the host country’s social assistance system, and comprehensive sickness insurance cover.
    • Have to register with the relevant authorities if living in the country longer than 3 months. Their family members, if not EU nationals, require a residence card valid for 5 years.
    • Be entitled to permanent residence if they have lived legally in another EU country for a continuous period of 5 years. This also applies to family members.
    • Have the right to be treated on an equal footing with nationals of the host country. However, host authorities are not obliged to grant benefits to EU citizens not working for payment during the first 3 months of their stay.
    In addition
    • Family members may, under certain conditions, retain the right to live in the country concerned if the EU citizen dies or leaves the country.
    • EU citizens, or family members, may be expelled if they behave in a way that seriously threatens one of society’s fundamental interests.
    • The only diseases which justify restricting a person’s freedom of movement are those which the World Health Organization considers to have epidemic potential.


  4. Mohamed Sherbiny
    February 28th, 2018 at 20:13 | #4

    Hi Patricia
    I was going to apply for a short stay schengen visa in Spain next month because I was planning to submit the application and documents needed to get married to my Spanish girlfriend. However, I’ve read on your blog that the process may take a couple of months and by that time my short stay schengen visa may be expired. What do you advise me to do? Shall I send my documents to my girlfriend and she continues the procedures? Or shall I consider marriage by proxy? Thanks in advance.

  5. Mohamed Sherbiny
    February 28th, 2018 at 20:16 | #5

    I forgot to mention that I live in Egypt, not Spain.

  6. Patricia Martin
    March 5th, 2018 at 12:49 | #6

    Hello Mohamed,

    Normally, the authorities are quite flexible with those foreigners who are waiting on a marriage authorization and their visa expires.

    You cannot just send the documents to your fiancé as the marriage application must be filed by both future spouses in person and the civil registry officer will interview you both.


  7. Samir
    March 19th, 2018 at 00:33 | #7

    Hi Patricia
    I would be grateful if you could please help me with my enquiry
    discretionary leave to remain holder 2.5years DLR from uk.
    Can a person marry in spain with non eu and what would he need and what are the outcome
    Many thanks for your time

  8. Patricia Martin
    March 19th, 2018 at 15:14 | #8

    Hello Samir,

    You can certainly marry a Non Eu citizen in Spain, though the procedure takes time and the short stay visa may expire. Generally speaking, the authorities tend to be flexible while the non-EU citizen is preparing the documentation and waiting for the court authorization to marry as well as on the wedding celebration date.

    Regarding the documentation, each Civil Registry as their peculiarities but in general terms, you need to prepare birth certificates and marriage status certificates from your home countries, plus other documents you can get in Spain.


  9. Jen
    March 21st, 2018 at 10:07 | #9

    Hi. Are you reffering to me?

  10. Jen
    March 21st, 2018 at 10:33 | #10

    I’m sorry. I guess my message is for Gerry

  11. Jen
    March 21st, 2018 at 10:38 | #11

    @Gerry. I think my message is a reply to your question.

  12. Tracy
    March 21st, 2018 at 21:46 | #12

    Hello Patricia,

    I am a Canadian on a Working Holiday Visa, My boyfriend was born in Spain, has lived here his entire life. I arrived in Spain in January, and no one told me I only had one month to get TIE care (I have an NIE number, and my passport says I am allowed here for 12 months, but I hadn’t realised the importance of the second card) to be allowed to stay for the full 12 months of my Visa. I had thought I had 90 days to get it, not 30) Since I failed to get the TIE card in time, I understand I have to leave within 6 months of my arrival, rather than 12. My boyfriend and I were loosely planning to be married in the winter – closer to the end of my 12 months, but haven’t made anything official yet. If we start to take official steps towards marriage soon, would be it be allowed for me to stay for that time? Or will I have to return to Canada regardless?

  13. Leo
    April 2nd, 2018 at 01:38 | #13

    Hi Patricia, I didn’t know if I should write to you in English or Spanish,,,, I have a question, my cousin has been living in Spain for 8 years,,, he overstayed his visa,, he has a Spaniard girlfriend,, and they’re thinking about getting married.., if they do, could he get the Spaniard residence..? ( even though he has been there illegal for so many years,,,? ) could he still get it that way,,,? if you could Please answer me I’d be Very Grateful. Thank You.

  14. nk1103
    April 8th, 2018 at 15:27 | #14

    Hello Patricia, i came across to your website and regarding the marriage in Spain i have a question to ask you.
    I am Non-Eu citizen and my fiance is Spanish. We are a gay couple and we are planning to apply all of the documents in June/July this year or maybe even earlier. My question is, because i heard that marriage process is a long process in Spain, and sure it gonna take more then 3 months, and as you know non-eu citizen have right of 90 days inside EU zone. Can i stay more then 3 months as we gonna wait for our finalization of the marriage documents, or we can just apply our documents in Registro Civil, and then i go back to my country , and come back to Spain for interviews and furthermore.
    Thanks in advance, and im waiting for an advice.

  15. Patricia Martin
    April 9th, 2018 at 11:02 | #15

    Hello Nikolina,

    You can certainly visit Spain to file the documents and then go back to your country, however, you need to be sure that someone is able to check the mail at the Spanish address you provide, as you will sent a notification sometime along the process to appoint you for an interview ( and you may even be called more than once ). You have to attend on the date notified, so if you are abroad you need to be sure you are able to travel to Spain within short notice. Anyway, if you overstay the visit visa and you can prove you are in the middle of a marriage application process, bearing in mind your partner is a Spanish citizen, the authorities tend to be quite flexible and let you stay.


  16. April 16th, 2018 at 20:55 | #16

    Hi patricia, please I want to ask you Iam from morocco and my boyfriend from spain we want to get married ,he is a lawyer there and he told me if we want to marry n morocco it will takes too much time and we will live seperated for many months,he wants to do things fast,thats why he suggests on me to do a power of attorney there in spain. I would like to know is this way is legal??and possible to get my visa to go to my husband soon. Waiting for your replay.
    Thanks in advance.

  17. Patricia Martin
    April 17th, 2018 at 09:54 | #17

    I believe your partner is considering marriage by proxy, that can certainly be done and is an usual solution when there are difficulties to be together to get married, as you need a visit visa to enter Spain and remain for a few months on order to apply for a marriage authorization.

    A marriage by proxy solves the above situation.


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