An exchange of vows between a loving couple, whether in a civil or religious ceremony, always makes for an unforgettable occasion. What the guests assembled on the day don’t see is the huge amount of planning that goes into it. While planning and preparation is a part of every wedding day, it’s especially true for expats who want to get married in Spain, due to the need to provide certain documents from your country of origin, on top of the usual administrative procedures that need to be completed with the local authorities before the big day. 

To help make sense of it all, Sonneil has compiled this guide to getting married in Spain as expats.

Be aware, first of all, that one of the two future spouses must be resident in Spain and be registered with the municipality closest to the couple’s place of residence, and both must be at least 18 years old. In the case of marriage between an EU citizen and a citizen from outside the EU, a special check is made before marriage is genuine and not being used to obtain a residence permit.

Same-sex marriage has been allowed in Spain since 2005. Same-sex couples enjoy the same marital, legal, inheritance and adoption rights as heterosexual couples.

Civil wedding

The first step is to contact the closest Registro Civil (Civil Registry) to your place of residence in Spain. They’ll provide you with the required document (marriage licence) to obtain a wedding date. To secure this, you will need to present:

  • Your NIE, your passport or identity card as well as photocopies
  • Your birth certificate. Be aware that non-EU nationals must have this document legalised by their consulate and their foreign ministry.
  • A certificate of empadronamiento stating your place of residence during the last two years or since you entered Spain (you can obtain it from the nearest municipality). At least one of the two fiancés must have resided in Spain in the previous 2 years
  • A sworn declaration of civil status
  • In the case of a divorcee, copies of the marriage and divorce documents
  • In the case of a widow, a copy of the marriage and death certificate
  • A civil marriage application form, completed and signed

These documents must be apostilled in your country of origin and translated into Spanish by a professional translator.

The marriage licence is only valid for six months, meaning you must submit it to the Junta Municipal (city council) within this time. 

Church wedding

If you want a church wedding, contact the local parish at least 3 months in advance. Accompanying your marriage licence, you will also need to provide baptismal certificates issued at least six months before the date of the wedding. 

As a general rule, marriage at the district court or the municipality is free. But if you prefer to get married in a church, a donation of around 300 euros is customary. Church marriages do not require legal procedures, but you will still need a certificate of baptism issued at least six months before the wedding.

Once you have celebrated your marriage, you are required to register it with the registry office which will give you a family record book called Libro de Familia. 

With that, all that remains is to live happily ever after.