It is difficult to marry in Spain as the bureaucracy is a logistical nightmare and is best to avoid at all costs. Likewise, you can only legally get married if you fit these two criteria:
- If you or your partner are Catholic (and desire to marry in a Catholic Church). For other religions, you can obviously still have a wedding celebration, but the marriage itself, and all the paperwork, will have to be done in your home country.
- If you or your partner have been living in Spain for the past 2 years.
To save money (around €800) and avoid all the boring paperwork, we recommend that all foreign weddings in Spain should be more about a post-legal marriage celebration. However, if you are still determined to get married in Spain, these are the steps you’ll need to take:
- Contact the relevant town hall, church or registry office of where you plan to marry. The documents that are required can vary depending on what area of Spain you wish to marry in.
- You will typically be asked for a Certificate of no Impediment to Marriage (CNI) which formally proves that you are allowed to marry. Your partner will need to apply for their own certificate. This certificate will be valid for 3 months and you must sort all the paperwork at least 3 months prior to your wedding.
- Having sorted your British CNI, you will then have to exchange it into a CNI that is valid in Spain. You will also have to prove that you have been living in Spain for the past 2 years.
- Similarly, you also need to apply for a Certificate of Marital Status to the consulate in Madrid.
- If everything goes to plan and your application has been accepted by the Civil Registry, then you will be allotted a certain waiting period before your wedding in Spain can happen. This waiting period can be anything between 3-6 months, in which the paperwork is processed.
- In Spain, civil weddings have to take place in a registry office, a town hall or a district court.
- If you have a religious wedding, it’s imperative that you register with the local civil authorities to get an official marriage certificate after the wedding itself. Ultimately, to avoid all the hassle, we’d strongly recommend getting formally married in a registrar office, and then celebrate it properly with all your friends and family in Spain – they’ll be none the wiser that you’re already married!
Necessary documents (if in English, must be professionally translated):
- Birth certificate.
- Certificate of Marital Status.
- Certificate of no Impediment to Marriage (CNI) (‘Fe de Solteria y Vida’) – you can get this at your local consulate or registry office.
- Divorce certificate (if necessary from previous marriage).
- Proof of residency (‘Certificate of Empadronimiento’) & confirmation for your address over the past two years (ie. a mortgage statement or gas bill).
- Consular Registration Letter.
- Consular Certificate of Home Office Registration.