Marriage/Affidavit of Civil Status
Formalities In Spain
As in many European countries, getting married in Spain is more complicated than in the United States. An average delay of 30 to 60 days should be expected after the following documents have been submitted and before the ceremony may be performed. Anyone under l8 who wishes to marry must have parental consent.
Application for a civil marriage must be made to the Civil Registry (Registro
Civil) or District Court (Juzgado) in the place where the marriage will be
celebrated. The Civil Registry in Barcelona is at
Plaça Duc de Medinaceli, 2,
Tel. (34) 93-412-0474
Fax: (34) 93-342-6171
The following documents are generally required, and in many cases take some time to obtain. There are local variations, and you should check with the local Civil Registry or District Court prior to assembling your documents.
- Application Form: This form can be obtained from the Civil Registry or District Court assuming jurisdiction. It should be signed by both bride and groom and include their full names, occupations, places of domicile or residence, and the citizenship of the couple and their parents.
- Birth Certificate: The original document is mandatory. (Instructions on how to obtain a birth certificate). If you were not born in Spain, you should submit the document with an "apostille," an official international seal verifying a document for use outside its country of origin. The apostille is issued by an authorized office in the state where your certificate was issued, NOT by the Spanish or U.S. Consulate. For information on how to obtain The Hague Legalization Convention "apostille" visit What is an Apostille web page. Naturalized citizens should ask the embassy or consulate of their native country for guidance on authentication of their birth certificates, as the apostille is not available in certain countries.If you live outside of Spain, you should also have a Spanish translation of the certificate made and authenticated by the Spanish Consulate or Embassy nearest your place of residence. If you are in Spain, the certificate must be translated into Spanish by an official translator (the U.S. Consulate cannot perform this service but does have a list of authorized translators) (PDF - 264K).
- Proof Both Parties Are Free to Marry: No document equivalent to the Spanish "Fe de Solteria y Vida" exists in the United States. Civil Registries have a document for this purpose that can be signed there when presenting the rest of the documents. If further proof if needed, Spanish authorities will accept, however, a sworn statement from a U.S. citizen affirming that he or she is single and free to marry, executed before the U.S. Consul. This affidavit is a fee service, only available to U.S. citizens, and may be done at the same time as items 5 and 6.
- Divorce/Annulment/Death Certificates: (Access: For instructions on how to obtain vital records). If you have been married before, you must submit evidence that the relationship has ended. Certified documents originated outside the Kingdom of Spain must be accompanied by an apostille and Spanish translations (please see information on apostille, above).
- Certificate of Residence: Legal residents of Spain registered with the U.S. Consulate for at least two years may request a registration letter ('inscripció consular'). As an alternate, U.S. citizens legally resident in Spain for the prior two years can obtain a certificate of residence at no charge from the Tenencia de Alcaldía in their district of residence. Americans who are temporary residents of Spain or have lived here less than two years may execute an affidavit regarding their place of residence before a consular officer. Both the registration letter and the affidavit are fee services. Apparently, Spanish law permits foreigners who are not Spanish legal residents to marry here. The different autonomous communities in Spain may, however, interpret this law differently and may require that one of the parties be a citizen or resident of Spain.
- Posting of Banns: Banns are a public announcement that a couple plans to marry, giving the general public an opportunity to object to the marriage for i.e. (knowledge of another spouse). Banns are not customary in the United States, but in Spain they are required when one or both of the parties concerned lives in a town of less than 25,000 inhabitants. If so, the U.S. citizen or U.S. citizens wishing to marry should first execute an affidavit at the Consulate (a fee service) to submit to the Civil Registry. After the judge has accepted all the documentation required, banns are posted for a period of no less than fifteen days prior to the marriage ceremony.
After you have assembled these documents and the ceremony is performed, the
marriage is then recorded in the Civil Registry and a Spanish marriage
As a general
rule Spanish marriages are recognized in the U.S. and the consular officer’s
attendance is not required.
If the parties are planning to return to the U.S., they should consider having the original certificate certified with the Apostille of The Hague by
Secretario de Gobierno
Palacio de Justicia
Paseo Lluis Companys, s/n, Barcelona
A religious ceremony may be performed after or in lieu of a purely civil ceremony if desired.
Spanish law recognizes Catholic, Protestant, Islamic and Jewish marriages as valid in Spain without the need of a second civil marriage. Regulations may vary depending on the religious denomination.
Couples marrying through one of the latter three rites will need to first obtain authorization from the Civil Authorities by presenting the requirements described previously under "Civil Marriages". For Catholic marriages, the documents listed below must be presented to the priest performing the ceremony. If you wish to have a Catholic ceremony and either you or your betrothed is a foreigner in Spain, you must contact the Bishopric in the area where you plan to marry. (The local address is: Barcelona Bishopric, Bisbe Irurita 5, 08002 Barcelona, Spain.) Arrangements for a Catholic marriage generally take from one to three weeks, and the following documents are generally required:
Birth certificate: Spanish translation is required (see page 1, item 1 for guidance).
Baptismal certificate: This must be issued within the six month period prior to your wedding, and authenticated by the issuing Bishopric. A Spanish translation must be attached.
Proof Both Parties Are Free to Marry: See number 6 under "Civil Marriages."
After a religious ceremony, you have one week to present the church-issued certificate to the nearest civil registry. The marriage is NOT recognized in Spain or the United States if you fail to register.
Please note that U.S. diplomatic and consular officers cannot perform marriages. Under U.S. law, only state-designated officials can perform marriages: diplomatic and consular officers are federal officials.
Marriages which are legally performed and valid in Spain are, as a general rule, also accepted in the United States. Please consult the office of the State Attorney General in your state of residence as regards the validity of "foreign" marriages in that jurisdiction.