Search:     Go  
The Spanish Lawyer Online
The Spanish Lawyer Online

Spanish Law Tribune

Keeping up-to-date with Spanish Law
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 .

Uncategorized , , , ,

  1. Manuel
    February 25th, 2019 at 13:05 | #1

    Hi Patricia:

    I wanted to ask you if is possible for a Pakistani man marry with a Spanish man (gay marriage). I am Spanish and he is from Pakistan, but resides on Dubai. We will live together for some time before taking this step, but I wanted to know if possible or if not, and in the case he cant marry as foreigner, he can do it if he gets a permanent empadronamiento in my city(Seville). Thank you.

  2. Sandeep Rathore
    April 22nd, 2019 at 18:51 | #2

    Hi Patricia.. Are you not available these days? Hope everything fine at your end

  3. Patricia Martin
    April 23rd, 2019 at 12:41 | #3

    Hello Sandeep,

    I am still collaborating with Lawbird and answering Immigration issues enquiries.

    In response to your questions, you can certainly marry your fiancé, but only in Spain as gay marriage is not legal in the UAE. It will only be valid in Spain.

    The right way to do it is to get his certificates from Pakistan: Birth and marital status certificates, duly legalized by the Spanish embassy and translated, and then register at the town hall in Seville as living together, to afterwards apply for the authorization to marry at the corresponding Civil Registry. I recommend you to make an enquiry at the civil registry in advance, in case they have additional requirements or they request a 2 year previous registration in order to grant the marriage authorization.


  4. Sandeep Rathore
    April 23rd, 2019 at 16:03 | #4

    Hey Patricia,
    Well name is wrong… I am not a gay.. Hehehe

  5. Sandeep Rathore
    May 8th, 2019 at 15:11 | #5

    Hi Patricia,
    How are you? I have one question…. I have 5 year eu family residency.. In this residancy card could I work in germany.. If not what process do I need to work I. Germany leaglly

  6. Patricia Martin
    May 13th, 2019 at 13:48 | #6

    Hello Sandeep,

    Your residence card only allows you reside and work in Spain.I recommend you to check the German immigration regulations to check what´t the procedure to access a work permit in Germany.


  7. Sandeep Rathore
    May 13th, 2019 at 13:53 | #7

    Thank you, God bless you,

  8. Sandeep Rathore
    May 14th, 2019 at 14:19 | #8

    Is it possible to take permission from Spain to work outside Spain in germany.. Because my wife is Spanish. Euro card something they say.

  9. Sandeep Rathore
    June 15th, 2019 at 13:23 | #9

    Hi Patricia,
    Is it possible if I can take financial help from the government. I have 5 year residancy of eu family members. If yes wht is the procedure. Thanks in advance

  10. Dawn
    July 13th, 2019 at 13:17 | #10

    Good day

    I am South African by naturalization. I would like to know how it will work if the man i intend to marry is from spain but wirks all in different countries for up to 2yrs at a time. Where would be the best place to get married? Would I have to reside for 1 year in spain before being able to travel with him wherever he works before being allowed citizenship? The chances of working with him for the same company is also on the charts, so what would you suggest legally please? Wed in SA or Spain or wherever we land up? How will that affect his or my citizenship of both our countries? The ideal plan is to have 2 homes due to the working areas and obviously our families.Seems pretty complicated.

  11. Patricia Martin
    July 15th, 2019 at 15:16 | #11

    Hello Dawn,

    Once you have married the Spanish citizen, you will be eligible for the Residence card as the relative of an EU citizen.

    There are various requirements and the core ones are: the legalized marriage certificate, the registration of the couple in the same Spanish address and proof of the sources of income.

    If the Spanish citizen is not actually living in Spain but is registered at an address in Spain, you will be able to meet the address registration requirement.

    I recommend you to marry in Spain, as that way you will be able to skip the legalization of the marriage certificate, since the certificate will already be official and registered in Spain.

    You will get a residence card in Spain about a couple of months after you file the application and that card will allow you travel to any Schengen country with your husband. However, in order to be eligible for the Spanish nationality you certainly need to have resided in Spain for at least a year. After that time, you can file the Spanish nationality application. Note that these applications are taking at least 2 years to be resolved.

    Please get in touch with us if you wish to discuss your case further.


  12. lightner
    September 27th, 2019 at 01:20 | #12

    Hello Patricia,
    I find your blog very informative and really helpful for us.
    I too have some questions in mind.
    I am from the Philippines and I am currently living and working here in Costa Rica for 2 year plus now. Me and my spanish boyfriend known each other for 6 years. We decided to get married in Spain. I was just in Spain 2 weeks ago and I fell in love with my boyfriend’s country.
    Here’s my question:
    1. Can I get married in Spain on a schengen visa?
    2. If I can get married on a schengen visa, what happens after the wedding? Should I go back to Costa Rica? Also, my boyfriend right now is living with me here in Costa Rica and he does not have a job. He has house rented in Tenerife, but that’s just it. He can also get a job there in Spain.
    Is it possible for us to apply for a permanent resident with his current situation? Or me having a job in Costa Rica (with good pay) will also help in applying/getting for a resident permit?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  13. Patricia Martin
    October 8th, 2019 at 15:35 | #13


    Please read my replies:

    1. Can I get married in Spain on a schengen visa? Yes.

    2. If I can get married on a schengen visa, what happens after the wedding? Should I go back to Costa Rica? Also, my boyfriend right now is living with me here in Costa Rica and he does not have a job. He has house rented in Tenerife, but that’s just it. He can also get a job there in Spain. –

    Once married you have the right to stay and apply for a residence permit and live and work in Spain. It is a choice. You can also go back to Costa Rica and apply for the residence card once you both decide to settle in Spain.

    3. Is it possible for us to apply for a permanent resident with his current situation?

    You would access a temporary residence card that lsts for 5 years. After that time you´d be eligible for the Permanent residence card. As he is Spanish he doesn´t need to apply for anything or meet any requirement to live in Spain. However, you need to prove the financial situation in order to apply for your card. If you are the only one who works, you will have to prove your have enough funds to cover your living expenses.

    Or me having a job in Costa Rica (with good pay) will also help in applying/getting for a resident permit?

    If your salary is over 2,400€ per month, it should suffice.

    Please let me know if you need further information.


Comment pages