Foreigners can be married in Spain, in a civil or religious ceremony, provided that one of them is either a resident or registered in the municipality (empadronado) where they wish to be married.
It is sometimes permitted for a couple to be married even though neither of them is resident or registered in the municipality, but this flexibility is only considered in religious weddings.
The starting point is getting your birth certificate and you must make sure that your passport is valid.
Some proof must be provided that both parties are single, such as a Consular Certificate of No-Impediment to the marriage. You have to ask for the certificate from the nearest Consulate to where you live. The certificate costs 148 Euros.
A widow or widower will have to present the original marriage certificate and the death certificate for the deceased spouse. A divorced person will need to present proof that there is a valid divorce. All the documents must be translated into Spanish and accompanied by the certificate of apostille, this is a stamp which authenticates documents and allows them to be used legally in another country. This internationally recognised certificate, for the countries which signed the Hague Convention of 1961, is issued by different authorities in different countries. In the UK it is the foreign office and at present they charge £27 per document.
If you are interested in getting married in Spain, be warned that in most cases you will have to come in person to present and sign all the forms and it will take about 30-180 days before these are processed and you can be married.
In 2005 the Spanish Parliament legalised same sex marriages, the documentation is processed in the civil registry and the ceremony can done either in the Court House or at the Town Hall.
If you are under 18 you cannot be married without the consent from parents or guardians.
If one of the couple cannot come to Spain due to the fact that they do not have for example the corresponding visa then it is possible to marry with a power of attorney. This kind of power of attorney has to be signed before a Notary Public and contain all the Information of the couple.
Section 1316 of the Civil Code states that in the absence of any mention of the matrimonial regime or if it is not expressly agreed to be a separation of assets, the regime will be joint assets.
Once all the indicated documentation has been collected, the couple go to the Civil Registry with two Witnesses; they should not be family members and should be of age. The Witnesses have to know you and have to state that they know you are marrying freely and that there is no impediment for the marriage.
After having presented all the documentation and after the Witnesses have signed the papers, at least one of the couple has to return to the Civil registry to collect the decision for the marriage, whether it be favourable or not. The procedure will take between 30 and 120 days.
The civil ceremony can take place in the Civil Registry, the town hall or the District Court. This will be mentioned in the file. If it is in the town hall or the district court then the Mayor or the city councillor should be contacted to agree on a suitable date for the wedding.
The procedure at court is free, both the processing and the ceremony. The procedure at the town hall is free in most cases.
If you wish to marry in church, then it is not necessary to go through the process at Court. You do have to go with your partner to do a pre-matrimonial course and you will need two witnesses each who will state to the priest that you are marrying freely and that there is no impediment for the marriage. You have to provide a Baptism certificate which has been issued within the six months prior to the wedding.
The ceremony for the marriage is free, although it is highly recommended that you make a donation, equally for the course and the ceremony. An estimated amount would be less than 300 euros.
After the ceremony, you have to register the marriage in the Civil Registry. This registry will issue a little book called a Libro de Familia or Family Book. Any children that you have will be noted in the book by the staff at the Civil Registry. Don’t forget to inform your own country’s Embassy or Consulate of your marriage.
A final reference to the matrimonial regime:
- Joint assets: All assets are common.
- Separation of assets: This matrimonial regime involves the exclusive property of each party during marriage, meaning that each spouse can administer their own property allowing them to sell and re-invest the proceeds without the consent of the other spouse. This matrimonial regime can be stipulated in a notarial deed either before of after the wedding.
Marriage policies and procedures vary in different regions of Spain and the license requirements often change, so to avoid difficulties and disappointments it may be useful to get legal advice before you start to gather the documents.