For members


Can non-residents or new arrivals get married in Spain?

Destination weddings are all the rage, but what if you have your heart set on getting married in Spain – is this possible as a non-resident? And what if you do live here but have only been here a short time or want to marry another foreigner – is this possible? Read on to find out.

wedding in Spain
Getting married in Spain. Photo: Pexels / Pixabay


Let’s look at the situation for non-residents. What if you and your partner live in the UK for example, but want to get married in Spain? Unfortunately, the answer is no, you can’t legally get married in Spain if you don’t live here.

Unlike, places such as Italy, Denmark and the US, a legal destination wedding is not possible in Spain for non-residents. Read on until the end for an alternative idea that will enable you to have your wedding here. 

Resident new arrivals

So, what if you and your partner are both foreigners who have recently moved to Spain – can you legally get married then?

The answer largely depends on how long you and your partner have lived in Spain. Spanish law states that at least one of the partners getting married must have residency in Spain for at least two years before the marriage.

One of the documents you must present ahead of time, along with a whole stack of other papers, is your residence card such as a TIE or green certificate or sometimes your empadronamiento certificate, which shows that you’ve been living in Spain for at least two years.

This means that if you and your partner are newly arrived, you will have to wait two years, before being able to legally marry on Spanish soil.

Can foreigners get married in Spain? Photo: adamkontor / Pixabay

Foreign residents in Spain

If you and your partner are both foreigners and at least one of you has been living in Spain for two years or more, then there’s no problem in legally marrying here.

While it’s possible, like many things in Spain, there’s a huge amount of bureaucracy and paperwork involved and it may take several months. 

The process differs slightly depending on which region you want to marry in, but you will usually be required to present the following documents:

  • Full original birth certificates
  • Passports and ID cards
  • Certificate of no impediment – meaning you’re free to marry. You will have to apply for this from your embassy or consulate.
  • Residency cards stating you have lived in Spain for at least two years.
  • Any divorce or annulment certificates if you’ve been married before.
  • Details and ID cards/passports of your witnesses

All these documents will have to be translated into Spanish by an official translator, as well as apostilled, so that they’re recognised here.

You may also need to undergo a personal interview process in order to be granted permission to marry.

If you want a religious marriage, you may also be required to produce further documentation.

Foreigner marrying a Spaniard

If you are a foreigner in Spain and want to get married to your Spanish partner, you can do so without the requirement of having lived in Spain for two years.

The process can still take several months to organise, however and you will still need the same documents as above and may be required to undergo an interview process.

If you are from a non-EU country but your partner is an EU citizen, a civil marriage will allow you to obtain residency in Spain without the need of having a job (as long as your partner can prove sufficient means of income for both of you). 

If your spouse is Spanish, you will also be able to apply for Spanish citizenship after one year of marriage.

What if we just want to have our wedding in Spain?

If you still want to get married in Spain and don’t meet the above requirements, it’s totally possible to do the legal part of the ceremony in a different country and then have your wedding celebration here. 

This doesn’t require any paperwork at all because technically you’re already married, so it’s the same as having a big party to celebrate your nuptials. It means that you can get married in that Spanish villa you’ve always dreamed of without all the hassle.

It also means that you can ask someone close to you such as a friend or family member to conduct the ceremony, as they won’t have to do any paperwork either. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

When you move into a new property in Spain you will need to change the account or contract holder over, so that any future water, electricity or gas bills will be in your name. It's not as easy as you may think; here's how you go about it.

How to change the title holder of utility bills in Spain

Changing the name on your utility bills and the payment details should in theory be relatively straightforward, however you may come up against some common problems which can make the change pretty complicated.

Firstly, you will need to find out which energy companies have been contracted for your property.

You can do this by asking the previous owner themselves, contacting your landlord if you’re renting or asking your estate agent to find out for you.

When it comes to water, this should be provided by your local council or city, so you won’t need to contact the previous occupant for this one. 

How do I change the title over?

When you first move in, remember to note down the numbers on the gas, electricity and water meters, so you can give these to the utility companies and they can record how much you should owe, instead of having to pay for the previous occupant’s consumption as well.

Next, you will then need to contact the energy company supplying your property or water provider and ask for a cambio de titular a nombre del arrendatario o comprador (ask for a change of ownership in the name of the renter or buyer).

The process should be completely free for electricity and gas, but in some cities, you may need to pay a deposit for changing the title of the water bill, which you should get back when you vacate the property. The deposit can be anywhere between €50 and €100.

Contacting the energy company by phone may be the best way to make sure everything is done correctly, but some companies also have online forms where you can request a title change. When it comes to water, most cities will have water offices you can visit or specific e-mail addresses if you can’t contact them over the phone. 

There are a few pieces of information you’ll need to have on hand before you contact the company. These are:

  • The full name of the previous person who had the bills in their name
  • Your NIE / DNI
  • The address of the property
  • The date you moved in
  • The CUPS code (not needed for water)
  • Your padrón certificate (for water only)
  • A copy of the deeds of the property or rental contract
  • Your bank details

With all this information, they should be able to change the name over on the account relatively quickly, so that any future energy bills will go directly to you.

At this time, you can also change your tariff or amount of energy contracted to suit your individual needs.

How do I find the CUPS code?

The CUPS code or Código Unificado del Punto de Suministro (Universal Supply Point Code) is a number that identifies each individual property that receives electricity or gas. The number doesn’t change, so you could ask the previous occupant for this as it will be written on their energy bills.

Alternatively, if this isn’t possible you can contact your energy distributor – these are assigned by area and stay the same. By giving them your name, address and ID number such as NIE, they will be able to give you the CUPS code associated with your property.

What if I want to change to a new energy company?

If you’d prefer not to contract the energy company that the previous owner had, you can also choose to go with a new one. In this case, you will still need all of the same information and numbers as above, but you will contact the energy provider of your choice and the type of tariff you want to pay.

How long will it take to change the name over?

It can take between 1 and 20 days for the bills to be changed over into your name. The previous occupant will receive their final bill and then you will receive the new one from the date you moved in.

What are some of the problems I might come up against?

The most common problem is when the previous occupant is not up to date on paying their bills and has some outstanding debt. In this case, if you try to change the title over into your name, you will also be inheriting the pervious owner’s debt.

In this case, you will have to get the previous occupant to pay their outstanding bill before you can change it over into your name. If you have problems getting them to pay their bill, then you can show proof of the date you moved in by sending in a copy of your deeds or rental contract. This should in theory allow for the transfer of ownership without having to take on the debt, however it can be tricky process, often calling the energy company multiple times and waiting for verification of the proof.

What if the energy services have been cut off?

In the case that the property has been uninhabited for some time, the previous owners may have deactivated or cut off the utilities. If this is the case, then you will need to call the energy providers to activate them again. This will typically involve paying several fees to be able to get them up and running. The amount you pay will depend on the energy distributor and where the property is based in Spain.