Getting married in Spain. Paperwork and legal requirements.

If you’re planning for your destination wedding in Spain right now, you should read this blog.

You & your fiancée enjoy a bit of adventure like most of our couples do. You dream of having a one-of-a-kind wedding. You’re ready to go the extra mile coming abroad…!

That’s why we want to help you plan for your stress-free wedding in Spain.

One of the ways we help our couples is offering the best value for money and finding the best suppliers here in Marbella.
Today we want to talk about a very important part of the process: the paperwork you’ll need to get married in Spain.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

01. Ceremony Options

02. Civil wedding in Spain /Legal Requirements

03. Catholic Church Wedding in Spain/ Legal requirements

04. Religious Wedding in Spain / Legal requirements

05. Symbolic ceremony

06. Civil wedding in Gibraltar

Destination Wedding Marbella

In short, if you are planning for your destination wedding in Spain and are looking for some insider tips on how to get the legal paperwork done, you’ll love this article.

Let’s get started!

#1. Ceremony Options

If you aren’t Spanish citizen there are only 2 ways to get legally married in Spain:
• Through the Catholic Church
• A civil ceremony if you or your partner have been a Spanish resident for at least 2 years
If you and your partner don’t fit any of the above, you can have a civil ceremony in your country first. On your chosen wedding date, you can have a symbolic ceremony in Spain.

A hassle -free alternative that’s worth considering is to get legally married over the border in Gibraltar-more on that below!

Things you should know:

• Civil and Catholic ceremonies must be celebrated in legally approved locations
• You can have a legal ceremony in Gibraltar- requirements to follow- and later a symbolic ceremony in Spain
• Same sex weddings are legal in Spain
• Several visits are usually required to secure a church date and the officiating priest will need to meet the couple before their wedding.
• Certain documents could be found as non- valid if more than 6 months old. So, it’s important to follow your planner advice on the best time to obtain them.
• Marriages celebrated in Spanish soil are recognized worldwide and are legally binding.

#2. Civil weddings in Spain / Legal requirements.

If you want to have a civil wedding in Spain you must meet either one of the points below:
• One of you have been a Spanish resident for at least 2 years
• One of you is a Spanish citizen
Your application for the civil wedding must be made to the Civil Registry, District Court or Town Hall in the place where the wedding will take place.  Note: The procedure may vary depending on where you are getting married.

Necessary Documentation:

The bride and groom must present the following documents in the Civil Registry in order to apply for their marriage license.
All documents have to be either original or certified copies and should be translated into Spanish by the official authorities and endorsed with an apostille.
Certificate of No Impediment / Certificate of Freedom to Marry
• Certificate of Marital Status (Certificado de Estado Civil)
• Full passport with minimum validity of twelve months (four copies) – to be used when you apply for the Empadronamiento, Residencia and file for the marriage
• Full Birth Certificate (showing mother and fathers names)
• If you are divorced – Decree Absolute and previous Marriage Certificate
• If you are a widower – Death Certificate of previous spouse and previous Marriage Certificate
• Name Change Deed Poll Certificate – if applicable
• Adoption Certificate – if applicable
• Spanish Town Hall Registration Certificate (Certificado de Empadronamiento or “Padrón”)
• Extranieria application form – print three copies. Complete the extranjeria form and file it at the national police station. Remember to bring with your passport and a photocopy of it.

#3. Catholic Church Weddings in Spain / Legal Requirements

As you may know, Spain is mostly a Catholic country. Some of Spain’s cathedrals are among the most beautiful in the world. Our local Church in Marbella, Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion, never fails to impress all my couples by the way.
• At least one partner in the couple has to be Catholic
• Neither can be divorced and previously married in a Catholic church

We always advise to start the process 6 months prior to the desired wedding date.
That way the required documentation is prepared on time and the date is secured with the church in Spain.
 Paperwork must be prepared in your home country by your local parish and later submitted to your chosen church in Spain.
Locally, we have several lovely church options such as: Marbella’s Church Nuestra Señora de la Encarnacion; La Cala de Mijas’ Church Santa Teresa de Jesus; and Benahavis’ Our Lady of the Rosary Church. Just to mention a few.
All documentation is required to be either original or certified copies.
It also must be translated into Spanish by an official translator who has been verified by the Spanish Consulate.
An apostille may also be necessary.

Important to note:

• Wedding dates must be reserved directly with the church in Spain
• Most churches in Spain will not take a booking more than a year in advance. Most churches also reserve Saturdays for local couples.
• Documents should reach the church you wish to be married in at least 2 months before the wedding date
• Documents sent to the church must be no older than 6 months old
• To legalize the marriage, you or your planner should take the Catholic wedding certificate to the local Spanish Civil Registry. The Civil authorities will register the marriage and deliver a civil wedding certificate.

Required Documentation:

Your priest will forward your documents to the bishop of the diocese where you intend to get married here in Spain.
• Long form of birth certificate
• Pre-nuptial enquiry – You can obtain this from your local parish
• Baptismal, Communion and Confirmation Certificates issued by your parish church
• Declaration letter from your Parish –
◦ A formal letter from your parish priest stating that you have fulfilled your Pre – Marital course requirements and permission that you are free to marry in a Catholic Church elsewhere.
• Letter of Freedom to Marry –
• Bishop’s Special Permission – Non-nationals need to receive special permission from the Bishop of the diocese in which they intend to marry, this can take up to four weeks
• If widowed – Death Certificate of previous spouse
• Decree of Nullity – if applicable
• Dispensation letter if one half of the couple is not Catholic

#4. Legal Requirements- Religious (Non-Catholic)

For non-residents, it is not possible to have a legally binding religions (other than Catholic) ceremony in Spain.
As an alternative, you may have a blessing in the place of worship of your faith in Spain, after a civil ceremony has taken place in your own country.
In order to have a blessings in a place of worship you are required to obtain permission from the appropriate authorities.

#5. Symbolic Ceremony

Hundreds of couples opt to have their wedding abroad in Spain by having a symbolic ceremony/ wedding blessing.
One of the advantages of a symbolic ceremony is that it gives you the flexibility to have your wedding on your preferred date and time.
Another advantage is that you can personalize your ceremony to include your own readings, rituals and cultural traditions.
The costs and stress associated with organizing all the required legal paperwork to have an official ceremony in Spain is also eliminated.
You can do the legal bit in your home country either before or after your symbolic ceremony in Spain.
The blessing/symbolic ceremony looks exactly the same than a legally binding ceremony and is equally emotional.
Your guests won’t be able to tell the difference!

Wedding Spain Marbella

#6. Civil Wedding Gibraltar

Marriage in Gibraltar is relatively easy due to the lack of a residency requirement. Non-residents simply apply for a Governor’s Special License, a declaration which must be sworn before a Commissioner for Oaths or a Notary Public. This formality must be completed with not later than one working day before the ceremony takes place.

Required Documentation either original or certified copies:

• Birth Certificate
• Passport or I.D card
• If previously married:
1. the decree absolute of the divorce must be shown together with the corresponding marriage certificate
2. In the case of a deceased partner: the marriage certificate and the death certificate
• All documents that are in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified translation

Please, check if there’s any visa requirement for entry into Gibraltar for your country citizens. Remember that Gibraltar doesn’t subscribe to the Schengen Agreement together with Great Britain.
Your first step should be the choice of a suitable date for your marriage, which may
be booked provisionally.
Contact me if you are thinking to get married in Gibraltar. We have all arrangements in place with the proper authorities so that your process a stress-free and easy one.
Hope this article has been helpful and has cleared some of your doubts!
If you’re still a bit confused reach out to me any time my friend…Happy to help!

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