Civil Marriage in Spain

Understand the process for civil marriage in Spain...

The process for civil marriage begins with the application for a certificate of permission to marry (Certificado de Capacidad Matrimonial). Couples wishing to marry must apply for this certificate in advance of the wedding. It is issued on condition that the applicants fulfil the legal right to marry. The certificate affords proof of permission to marry.

Application can be made at the Civil Registry (Registro Civil), District Court (Juzgado) or, in some cases, the Town Hall in the place where the marriage is to be held.

  • To find the nearest Civil Registry dial 010 from a Spanish phone (this connects to the local council who can provide details) or visit the Ministry of Justice website

The couple should contact the Civil Registrar to find out exactly what documentation will be required as there are regional variations. Some provinces are stricter than others regarding the laws of residency. If the couple are not Spanish citizens, then one of them must have been a legal Spanish resident for the previous two years. So in effect, foreigners can not legally be married in Spain.

Applicants will usually need to provide the following documents:

  • Current valid passport (for non-Spanish applicants) or a DNI identification card for Spanish nationals and copies
  • Original birth certificates, with sworn Spanish translation if that is not the original language (traduccion jurada)
  • Certificate of No Impediment (Certificado de No Impedimento) which can be obtained from the registrar office of the home country
  • Proof that they are free to marry (Certificado de Capacidad Matrimonial). Provide marriage and divorce (certificados de divorcio), annulment or death certificates of any prior marriage, a Consular office may be able to help with this
  • Proof of Spanish residency (residence card)
  • Certificate of residence (Certificado de Empadronamiento Padron), proving residence in Spain of at least two years (available from the Town Hall)

Note: All foreign (not Spanish) documents should be translated into Spanish and have an official seal, the Certificate of Apostille of the Hague (apostilla de la Haya). The Hague Apostille allows a public document from one country to be recognised as a valid document by other countries that have also signed the Hague Agreement. A fee is charged for each document. Translated documentation should not be more than three months old.

Approval period

Following the filing of the application there is a posting of Banns (a public declaration of intent to marry) (edictos) to be made at the Town Hall and in the case of a foreigner's application, at their Consular office. After a minimum period of 21 days without contest the marriage can legally proceed.

Note: The time it takes for a marriage application to be processed varies greatly between districts but is a minimum of 30 to 45 days and may be as much as four months. Once approval of eligibility is granted, there may be a further delay before a date is allocated for the marriage.

The Marriage

A civil marriage can be held in licensed buildings such as the courts, or the Town Hall of residence where it will be performed by the Mayor or a delegated Councillor.

The marriage is effective immediately following the ceremony. After the wedding, it will be registered in the Civil Registry and a certificate stating the date, time and place of the marriage will be issued.

A religious ceremony (or blessing) can be held following the civil ceremony if desired. It is important to remember that 'blessings' are not legally recognised marriages.