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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. Patricia Martin
    January 15th, 2021 at 09:42 | #1

    Hello Merna,

    Note that marriage authorizations take a long time, usually more than 3 months, so I believe that you can choose a date that suits you both while you are in Spain or during your next visit, as thee Civil Registry gives you the option to choose among different dates. Marriage by proxy is not recommended and only to be used in extreme cases where one f the partners is stuck in a country or cannot travel for health related reasons.

    Every Civil Registry works differently. I recommend you ask your partner to check the procedure with the Civil registry in Guadalajara, as I cannot anticipate any timeframe.

  2. January 15th, 2021 at 09:56 | #2

    Hello Patricia,
    Thanks for answer
    I would like to ask if there is any way to fasten the process?

    As i ll get the interview as soon aa i arrive in february.

    And in case our file get accepted while i am in Egypt, For how much time it is available to marry, are there any expired date for acceptance ?

  3. Patricia Martin
    January 15th, 2021 at 09:59 | #3

    Hello Merna,

    As I mentioned in my previous reply, each Civil registry works differently. I highly recommend you to make a consultation at the Guadalajara Registry so you can have your questions answered.

  4. Ian
    February 15th, 2021 at 15:07 | #4

    Good morning Patricia,

    Right now I entered Spain with the tourist visa of 90 Days and it is expiring in less than one month. My girlfriend (Spanish) and I had done the process of marriage (i,e. paperwork, interview) and they told us that it would take about 2 months to give permission. My question is:

    Is it still possible for me to marry her, and also attain the visa to be legal here in Spain despite being in an irregular situation (i.e overstay)?

  5. Patricia Martin
    February 17th, 2021 at 15:16 | #5

    Hello Ian,

    You can stay in Spain during the marriage process. It is a justified reason and the authorities will let you stay if you have the documentation proving the marriage application is in process.

    Once married, you can file the residence card for EU citizen relatives´ application at the relevant immigration office. Once the permit is approved, you will need to apply for the actual card (TIE) at the police station. The card will be valid for 5 years and it grants the right to work (salaried or self employed) and to reside.

  6. Kashif
    February 25th, 2021 at 20:21 | #6

    Hi, I need your help, my question is I am illegal here in Spain but my girlfriend is widow and we are relationship last three year, now we want get married. She is living in Sevilla, so can you advise me what should I do to get marry or civil partnership? Thanks

  7. Patricia Martin
    February 26th, 2021 at 14:26 | #7

    Hello Kashif,

    If you decide to marry, you need to file the application at the corresponding Civil Registry in Seville. You first need to get the judge´s authorization to marry and a set of documents need to be prepared, like birth certificates, marital status certificates from your home country and the town hall certificate indicating you are both registered in an address in Seville. That authorization takes a couple of months to be obtained and then you will be given various dates to choose from to get married. So in total it will take you nearly a year to get married.

    If you decide to register a partners, the documentation will be similar but the process takes less. You can get the information abuot the process from the Town hall or directly from the Delegacion Territorial de Salud y Familias in Andalucia (https://www NULL.juntadeandalucia NULL.html).

    I trust this information has been helpful.

  8. joseph james
    April 14th, 2021 at 00:07 | #8

    im from the uk currently in spain 90 day run out last week
    im looking to marry my partner of 1 year to help with chances od staying in spain together
    how is this possible without leaving spain and what is needed to apply for the right papers etc

    all the best joseph

  9. Patricia Martin
    April 14th, 2021 at 11:37 | #9

    Hello Joseph,

    If you overstay the 90 days period and you haven´t got any documentation to justify it, you are not going to be deported, but be in a uncomfortable situation, as authorities can bother you.

    For you to marry your partner, that I assume has a right to remain in Spain (Foreigner with a residence permit or Spanish national), the relevant application has to be filed at the closest Civil Registry. You will need to prepare a set a documents (list can be downloaded from the internet or you can hire the services of a gestor to help you). This is a lengthy process, as the Registry´s judge needs to approve your application first and later on give you various dates to choose from for the marriage celebration, that can be in 5-6 months’ time.

    A quicker option that may be worth considering is the partnership registration, that also serves as proof of the family relationship. This is processed at the corresponding Town Hall or at the Delegación territorial de Salud y Familias. The documentation required is very similar to the one required for marriages, but the procedure is simpler and quicker.

    Depending on your partner´s nationality, you will be able to apply for a Residence card as the relative of an EU national in Spain, a residence card application as the relative of an UK national (that already holds a residence card) or for a Family reunion permit (if your partner is a non-EU national with a legal residence permit in Spain). Each process is different and not all of them are started in Spain.

  10. Joseph
    April 14th, 2021 at 12:07 | #10

    Thanks for the quick response
    I’m a week over the 90 days looking to start the process as quickly as possible to start
    Me and my partner have been together for almost one year is that a problem
    Yet we don’t live together .
    This came as a shock the process as I thought I would be able to stay yet I didn’t have enough proof
    So I have to wait for another year as an irregular citizen to do the civil partnership process ,?

  11. Patricia Martin
    April 14th, 2021 at 13:25 | #11


    One of the requirements for the partnership registration is that you live together, that you are registered at the same address.
    As soon as you can complete that requirement and have gathered the rest of the documents, you will be able to apply for the partnership registration.

  12. emilia madhi
    April 17th, 2021 at 22:08 | #12

    Hello. I have a question. My partner is illegal in Spain. Do I can get married with him over here, as a partnership. Im self employed. What is the procedure please.Thank you.

  13. Patricia Martin
    April 20th, 2021 at 15:09 | #13

    Hello Emilia,

    You can either marry or register as partners. The procedure may vary among regions in Spain, so it is important to know where you are going to reside, to confirm the documentation you need to prepare and the exact organization that deals with partnerships registrations, in the event you decide to choose that option.

    If you decide to marry, the process will take longer. I advise you to make an enquiry at the closest Civil Registry. The usual documents you need to start preparing are:
    – Birth certificates from home country, legalized and translated into Spanish.
    – Marital Status certificates, legalized and translated into Spanish.
    – Certificado de empadronamiento where you both appear as living together.

    Once you are married, your spouse can apply for a residence card based on your relationship. The type of card will depend on whether you are an EU national or a non-EU national.

  14. emilia madhi
    April 21st, 2021 at 07:08 | #14

    thank you Patricia.

  15. April 27th, 2021 at 20:19 | #15


    I have seen some mixed information in regards to someone irregular marrying someone who is a Spanish resident. I am a resident living here on a non lucrative visa. I read that after 2 years, I would be able to marry someone who is not Spanish and they would take on the same residency status as myself. Is this correct? Thanks a lot for reading this.

  16. Patricia Martin
    April 28th, 2021 at 10:03 | #16

    If you marry once you are already a Spanish resident, you can apply for your spouse´s family reunion at any time after the marriage, though you must have renewed your permit at least once.

  17. stephanie ramirez
    October 18th, 2021 at 17:01 | #17

    hello, I have a problem I tried to get married through a notary in Valencia, Spain with my boyfriend who is Romanian but has Spanish residency. I’m American we had all the proper documents but then the notary said she thinks I can’t get married because my student visa was expired in February and put our marriage paperwork on pending. Is there a way to get married even though my visa is expired? she said she can’t do anything because I’m illegal and need to fix my visa in order for us to get married.

  18. Patricia Martin
    October 20th, 2021 at 14:02 | #18

    Hello Stephanie,

    You don´t really need to be in a regular situation in Spain in order to marry, especially since your partner is a Spanish resident. If the Notary is posing a problem, you may consider other notary or registering as partners at the town hall, as the effects are quite similar.


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