If you think of getting married in Spain, you should know that the legally recognized ceremonies are represented by the civil and religious marriages. Foreigners can get married here only in the situation when one of the parties is a resident in Spain or if one of the persons is registered with the municipality where the ceremony will take place.
Certain exemptions are granted in this sense and they are applicable to religious ceremonies. Our team of lawyers in Spain can offer in-depth assistance on the documents that should be submitted by the applicants, depending on the type of marriage they are interested in.
Types of marriage ceremonies in Spain
Besides the civil and religious ceremonies available for marriage purposes in Spain, the legislation also prescribes the civil partnership, a type of ceremony available for the same sex persons. The civil partnership is recognized by most of the Spanish autonomous communities and it offers a set of legal rights (inheritance, property), which can be further detailed by our team of lawyers in Spain.
The religious marriage is recognized by the law and there is no need to complete a civil marriage in order for the religious ceremony to take place. This is the case for Roman Catholic, Muslim, Protestant or Jewish marriages and the religious ceremony has the same legal status as the civil partnership.
The most common type of marriage in Spain is the civil one and it is fully recognized according to the local laws; it provides the right to inheritance, property, pensions and adoptions for the two spouses, who don’t need to apply for a religious ceremony in order to be considered married. In order to obtain a marriage certificate, the two spouses must choose the civil marriage even if the religious ceremony is recognized by the local laws.
The civil marriage in Spain
The civil marriage in Spain is a bureaucratic procedure and it may take some time, that’s why you should prepare the necessary paperwork for the procedure a few months in advance. In order to register for a civil marriage in Spain, both parties should have the minimum age of 18 years old. This is also applicable in the case of a religious marriage.
If the future spouses are foreign citizens and they want to get married in Spain, al least one of them must be a resident in this country, starting two years before the marriage. This general rule can be different in various regions, so you should check before submitting the documents. Details about the conditions for getting married in Spain can be found on the website of the local Ministry of Justice.
The first step of the civil marriage procedure in Spain includes a file signed by the two future spouses, containing information on the fact that they are eligible for marriage in Spain and that they meet all the legal requirements for getting married in this country. The couple needs a certificate of permission to marry that can be obtained from the local Civil Registry, District Court or Town Hall.
Foreigners wanting to get married in Spain should generally provide the following documents: the birth certificate (and a Spanish translation), the passport and theconsular certificate that will state the fact that the applicant is eligible for marriage. Persons who have previously been married should also file documents related to the dissolution of the marriage (divorce or annulment documents). Widowed persons wishing to remarry must file specific documents, attesting the death of the previous spouse.
What documents should foreigners provide for a civil marriage in Spain?
In order for a couple to get married in Spain through a civil ceremony, a set of documents should be submitted with the local institutions where the event will take place. Please note that a civil ceremony will require different documents than the ones available for religious wedding (differences may appear here also, based on the confession of the couple). In the case of a civil wedding, the following documents must be provided:
- • the valid passport documents of both spouses applying for a marriage;
- • the couple’s birth certificates (the original document is required);
- • a proof attesting that both of the partners are free to get married (in this case, the documents can be obtained through the embassy of their countries of origin);
- • documents attesting the end of past marriages (through certificates of divorce, annulment documents, death certificates);
- • the certificate of residence (at least one of the parties must be the owner of a residence permit, in the case in which both partners are foreigners).
In the case in which the couple is formed by a Spanish citizen and foreign one, when applying to get married in Spain, the residency requirement will no longer be available. In order to be eligible for a civil wedding in Spain, the parties have to apply for a certificate of permission to marry; the application must be done in due time, prior to the wedding itself.
The document will be issued once the parties provide documents that they have the full capacity to get married following the requirements of the Spanish legislation and that they are free to get married; along with the application, the parties must also provide documents such as: the Certificate of Marital Status, the Certificate of No Impediment (the proof through which the partners demonstrate that they are not already married in another country) and other relevant documents, which can be presented by our team of Spanish lawyers.
What are other procedures of a Spanish civil marriage?
Once the papers are submitted, the local registry office, where the civil marriage will take place, will post a notice on the intent to marry. This notice will be displayed on the office’s public notice board for a period of 21 days. At the moment when the documents are submitted, the couple wishing to get married should also bring their witnesses (two persons), who must also provide their identity papers.
In a period of 10 days since the documents were submitted, the couple should appoint an interview with the representatives of the local registry office, as this is a part of the civil marriage procedure in Spain. Provided that one of the parties does not speak Spanish, it is advisable to hire a lawyer in Spain, who can represent the couple throughout the marriage formalities.
In Spain, once the civil ceremony took place, which is generally held by the mayor/councilor of the town where the parties live, the marriage will officially become effective. After the ceremony, the local authorities will issue a marriage certificate and the event will be registered in the Civil Registry of the respective municipality.
What are the statistics on marriages in Spain?
Although Spain is mainly a Catholic country, the number of marriages registered in this country (for both civil marriages and religious ones) has gradually declined between 2006 to 2013 (when we refer to opposite-sex marriages). Since 2013, the Spanish wedding ceremonies expanded at a steady rate, the following being available:
- • in 2006, the Spanish authorities registered a total of 203,435 marriages;
- • in 2013 was recorded the lowest number of marriage registrations – only 153,375 weddings;
- • in 2017, there were 171,023 marriage registrations in Spain;
- • the average age at which a person gets married in Spain increased, the youngest age being of 31.34 years for women, in the region of Melilla;
- • the average age at marriage for a Spanish woman ranges between 31.34- 36.83 years old;
- • the average age at marriage for a Spanish man varies between 36.1 to 40 years old.
How can same-sex couples get married in Spain?
Spain is one of the European countries which legally recognized the same-sex marriages. The marriage of a same-sex couple can be done through a civil partnership, which is recognized in most of the Spanish autonomous regions; our team of Spanish lawyers can advise with in-depth information on the formalities necessary to complete in this case.
Through a civil partnership, the couple can obtain a wide range of rights, which are also available for couples getting married through a civil ceremony or through a religious one. Thus, they can have the right to adopt a child, property and inheritance rights and other associated benefits.
If you are interested in finding out other steps that should be completed when getting married in Spain, you may contact our Spanish lawyers. Our law firm in Spain can help you submit the documents for the civil ceremony and can offer tailored advice on the legal procedures for Spanish weddings.