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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. 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.wordpress.com/directive-200438ec/ (https://eumovement NULL.wordpress NULL.com/directive-200438ec/) ).

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

    These are the key points of the EU directive:

    KEY POINTS
    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.

    Regards,

  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.

    Regards,

  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
    Samir

  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.

    Regards

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

    @milcarlos
    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.

    Regards

  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.

    Regards,

  18. Mark
    May 2nd, 2018 at 03:31 | #18

    Hello Patricia! I’m so happy I found this website. I’m a US citizen. Last year I met a Spanish woman while in Spain on a 3 mnth visa. Things went well,I returned twice and want to spend more time with her. I see that I can only stay in Spain 90 days then cannot return for another 90. We have made an initial appointment with the civil registry to apply to get married. However my 90 days will be up before the marriage could take place due to long waits. She visited a lawyer in Spain who told her I’d be illegal in Spain if i didnt leave. Is this correct?
    I don’t want to leave for another 90 days obviously. I read that we could get married in one day in Gibraltar. If we did that then returned to Spain and registered the marriage would I be able to stay? I enjoy traveling and don’t want to jeopardize my future European travels by being illegal. I looked into a long term visa but it was complicated and no appointments are available at the consulate in LA. What do you recommend? Thx so much!

  19. Patricia Martin
    May 2nd, 2018 at 08:31 | #19

    Hello Mark,

    The legal advice you have been given is correct. If you overstay the 90 days limitation you will be in an irregular situation. However, in practice, if you can prove you are in the process of obtaining a marriage authorization, being the other party a Spanish citizen, the authorities will be flexible and allow you to stay without deporting you, for a while. Also, nationals from the US enjoy this type of flexibility unless they have criminal records.

    If you marry in Gibraltar, you will have to legalize and translate that marriage certificate for it to be valid in Spain. Once this has been done and you are in Spain, you can file the residence card application. The marriage certificate, together with the financial documentation, are core documents of this type of application.

    Regards,

  20. Nadeem Asif
    May 9th, 2018 at 17:08 | #20

    Hi Patricia,
    i been following your blog since 2 years and i can say this is best blog i ever seen. Where u give answers to each and every person. This really helpful for every one. i will say big Thanks for this.
    i have one question.
    I am from Pakistan and married with Spanish national and we have son born in Spain. I have EU family residence card which issued from Uk. As we used to live in UK.
    2 months ago we decided to move in Spain. And i have all the documents to apply residence card in Spain as family member of Spanish.

    I just want to know after applying residence card in Spain will i keep residence card of UK as well or it will be cancel ?

    What if in near future i change my mind and will move back to UK?
    can i use my residence card for UK again or not?

    Please guide me for to taking best decision.

    Many Thanks
    Nadeem

  21. Patricia Martin
    May 14th, 2018 at 13:04 | #21

    Hello Nadeem,

    Thank you very much for your kind words.

    Once you become a resident in Spain, you will be considered a Spanish resident here in Spain, regardless the fact the UK still recognizes your residency status there.

    In Spain, you need to prove you have been residing in the country, and never be away from Spain for more than 12 months consecutively in order to keep your status or get a permanent residence card after the first five years. I am unaware of the UK regulations in that regard.

    I recommend you to get in touch with a British Immigration Law expert to get the answers to your main questions.

    Regards,

  22. Atul Sharma
    June 14th, 2018 at 14:58 | #22

    Hi Patricia
    Hope you ok I have a question for you please if can help me with this.
    I’m permanent resident In spain and just married in spain is well
    And I got my civil marriage certificate ( cerficatdo de matremonio)
    My question is my wife’s non resident in spain and stayed illegal here she having a 2 year padron.
    Can I apply her residence on my base and how and from where to start
    Thanks regard

  23. helen lemon
    June 18th, 2018 at 01:58 | #23

    Yes, I have the same question Patricia, regarding the fastest way to obtain official residence status in Spain for non EU spouse.my daughter has been in Spain for 10monthes. She is now married to a Spanish citizen. She would like to work and be eligible for healthcare. They live in Barcelona. Every week they go online at the prescribed time to book her appointment at the ministry of immigration in Barcelona. In seven weeks they have not been successful. Either the booking engine crashes or they receive a message stating no more appointment dates. Try again next week. What can she do??? Is there an alternative? She wants to come home for a visit for 6weeks this summer. She assumed she would have her Spanish residency before that. What now? residence and NIE number beforehand

  24. Patricia Martin
    June 18th, 2018 at 09:37 | #24

    Hello Helen

    It is true that the appointments website is blocked for Barcelona, as they have no availability. This means their agenda is full for the next month or so.

    There´s no way to get an earlier appointment unless there are very severe reasons. In that case your daughter would have to go to the Immigration office and explain the situation. She will have to wait until the appointments site is unblocked, or register her address at another province where there is immediate or quick availability.

    Regards,

    Patricia

  25. Patricia Martin
    June 18th, 2018 at 09:45 | #25

    Hello Atul,

    Your wife can certainly apply for the residence card as the relative of an EU citizen. She has three months to do since she is in Spain as your spouse.

    You will have to provide with a copy of the padrón, indicating you both live in the same address and then show documented evidence of your financial situation and medical cover.

    You can find the official information about the procedure and requirements here (http://extranjeros NULL.empleo NULL.gob NULL.es/es/InformacionInteres/InformacionProcedimientos/CiudadanosComunitarios/hoja103/index NULL.html).

    Regards,

    Patricia

  26. Sandy
    June 18th, 2018 at 11:58 | #26

    Hi Patricia,
    how are you, Patricia my visa will finish 6th of july 2018. my wife is Spanish.but due to some reason i could not register for residency.she was too busy. she will get time next month for asking for imperdonamento to her friend but my visa will be finished by that time. is it possible that after the visa expire i can apply for residency or tell me any legal way to live here till i apply for the residency.what are the drawback if i register late.
    Thanks in advance :)

  27. Patricia Martin
    June 18th, 2018 at 12:09 | #27

    @Sandy
    Hello Sandy,

    Thank you for your message.

    You can apply for your residence card even if your visa has expires as you are the relative of an EU citizen. The EU regulations regarding the free movement of EU citizens and their relatives within the EU allows you stay but you need to apply for the card as soon as possible. You may be served a fine, though.

    Regards,

  28. Atul Sharma
    June 18th, 2018 at 12:10 | #28

    Thanks Patricia please can any website link in English because it’s realy difficult for me in read in spanish
    thanks again
    @Patricia Martin

  29. Sandy
    June 25th, 2018 at 09:57 | #29

    Hi Patricia,

    You have been a great help and when ever i have a question i come back to you.. earlier i was in india now from spain. i am married to spainish girl.i have family visa and libro de familia as well i have all the document to apply for residency. but all of sudden my wife is delaying to register for residency. she is not telling me the reason clearly. could i register alone for residency or her present is must.i have sold everything from my home country i have no place to go. please tell me what should i do i really need your help.

  30. Patricia Martin
    June 25th, 2018 at 13:55 | #30

    Hello Sandy,

    You need to apply for the residence card as the relative of an EU citizen at the Immigration Office in Spain, in person. Your wife doesn’t need to be present but the application form must be signed by her.

    Note that to prove your marriage, you need your marriage certificate from Spain and not only the Libro de Familia.

    Regards,

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