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What foreigners need to know before marrying a Spaniard

The Local Spain
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What foreigners need to know before marrying a Spaniard
You can get an extra paid day off work for your own wedding if it falls during the week. Photo: Stocksnap/Pixabay.

The paperwork and requirements, the types of unions available, the benefits, the risks of tying the knot for reasons of convenience - these are all the factors foreigners planning on marrying a Spanish national should be aware of beforehand.


If you've moved to Spain and made a life for yourself here, finding a romantic partner might've played a role in that as well as your plans for the future. So, if you are considering marrying a Spanish citizen in Spain, there are several things to consider.

What type of marriage should it be? What are the potential residency and tax benefits for life in Spain if marrying a Spaniard? What are the requirements and documents needed to actually get married in Spain?

Here's what you need to know.

READ ALSO: Spain is the second most expensive country in the world to get married

What are the different types of marriage in Spain?

There are generally three types of marriage in Spain:

Civil marriage: This is a legal marriage without a religious aspect. A civil marriage gives rights of property, inheritance, pensions and adoption and can be between heterosexual or same sex couples.

Civil partnership: Civil unions and registered cohabitation between same-sex people. These allow for kinship, inheritance and property rights.

Religious marriage: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and Muslim marriages can be celebrated in Spain without requiring a second civil marriage. Religious marriages have the same legal status as civil unions - that is to say, they must be registered with local authorities.

If you want a religious wedding (and remember, when marrying more traditional Spaniards, this could be the case) make sure your wedding official is licensed to perform weddings and check to see if they will register it with the town hall themselves or if they will give you the documents to do it yourself.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about getting a prenup in Spain


What benefits do you get when you marry a Spaniard?

So, you've decided what type of wedding you want -- what are the benefits of marrying a Spaniard for a non-Spanish citizen?

If as a foreigner you marry a Spanish citizen, you enjoy the following benefits:

Simplified route to citizenship: by marrying a Spaniard the requirements of years of legal and continued residence in Spain necessary to be able to apply for Spanish nationality are reduced to only one year.

Residence and work permits: You will be able to get a residence and work permit for 5 years (the EU community card) thanks to being a family member of a European citizen.

Tax benefits: By marrying a Spaniard, you can file joint income tax returns (known as IRPF or impuesto sobre la renta de las personas físicas), which can put you at an advantage.



What are the requirements for marrying a Spaniard?

For a marriage between a foreigner and Spaniard to take place, three main requirements must be met:

Prove that it is not a fake or fraudulent marriage for convenience: You must be able to demonstrate that it is a real relationship, and both members of the couple show their legal consent to formalise the union at a legal level.

Prove both parties are legally single: Both people in the couple must be legally single at the time of marriage, something that must be proven through paperwork (more on that below).

Legal status: Of course, the non-Spaniard in the relationship must legally reside in Spain, and be able to prove it with valid residency documents.


Why do I need to prove my marriage isn't a fake marriage?

As The Local reported last year, in Spain fake marriages (often referred to as 'marriages of convenience') have seen an "exponential rise" in recent years according to the Central Unit of Illegal Immigration Networks and Fake Documents (Ucrif).

An increasing number of non-EU citizens are striking deals with Spanish or other EU nationals in Spain as a surefire way of obtaining residency in the country and acquiring practically the same rights as a Spaniard. Individuals may be willing to accept the offer of a fake union, whether it’s to help a migrant out, for mutual convenience or financial gain.


How do I prove this?

In some cases, in order to finish the process and prove that it is an authentic marriage, it is possible that both members of the couple will have a small interview.

According to Spanish legal experts, it is a small questionnaire that both members take separately and involve simple personal questions about the life of their future spouse and about their life together to date.

For example, they could ask about how they met, if the other person has children, the name of their parents, what their partner does for work, how long you have lived together, when you decided to get married, and so on. All questions that should be easy enough to answer if yours is an authentic marriage.

READ ALSO: Fraudulent marriages to obtain residency spike in Spain



What happens if I am caught trying a 'marriage of convenience'?

Faking a marriage or civil union isn’t generally classified as a crime in Spain, which means that the bogus couple are unlikely to end up behind bars, but it is still considered a fraudulent act that can carry fines of between €500 and €10,000, according to article 53.2B of Spain’s migration law.

Criminal penalties are generally only applied in cases in which there is profit or forced documents. If it can be proven that the only reason behind the fake marriage was that one of the spouses obtained the residence permit or the right to family reunification, that permit will be denied or the renewal will not be carried out if it had already been granted.



Which documents do I need?

Keep in mind that the procedure and the required documents could differ slightly according to where you live in Spain.

However, generally speaking you need the following documents to register your marriage in Spain:

Identity document (passport in the case of the foreigner, and ID or passport in the case of the Spanish citizen).

Birth certificate of both members of the couple.

Proof of martial status: Documentation that proves the marital status of each one (whether single, divorced or widowed). In Spain this is known as a Certificado de Fe de Vida y Estado.

If either of you are divorced, you must also provide a final judgment of divorce letter or document.

Address documents: Proof of where both members lived during the last two years before the application.

Certificate issued by the Consulate of the foreigner's country of origin that accredits your freedom to marry.

Keep in mind that any documents from abroad must be officially translated into Spanish.

Can I marry a Spaniard outside Spain?

Yes, but if the marriage takes place abroad, the Spanish citizen is legally obliged to register the marriage in Spain when you get back, or this process can be done at the Spanish Consulate located in the foreigner's home country.


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Jess 2023/10/12 00:41
There is no requirement to have regular status in Spain in order to get married.

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