Marriage in Spain is more complicated than in the United States. Spanish authorities may take 30 to 45 days to approve a marriage
application. Policies and procedures vary from region to region. For example, Spanish law appears to permit foreigners who
are not Spanish legal residents to marry in Spain. The different autonomous communities in Spain, however, interpret this
law differently. Outside Madrid, it may be required that one party be a citizen or resident of Spain. For this reason, the
Embassy suggests an American consult beforehand with the regional authorities of the area where the person wants to marry.
In general, legal and valid marriages abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Should the parties contracting marriage
have any questions about the validity of a marriage performed abroad, they should contact the Attorney General of the state
or states of domicile of the parties.
Civil MarriagesIn Madrid, applications for civil marriage are made at the Civil Registry at Calle Pradillo, 66, 28002 Madrid, Tel. 91-397-3700,
Fax: 91-397-3779. Outside of Madrid, one applies to the District Court of the bride's or groom's residence. One normally needs
the following documents:
- Application form. Available from the Civil Registry or the District Court.
- Birth certificate. This must be an original document bearing the Apostille of the Hague (see Mutual Recognition of Documents). In addition,
a translation authenticated by a Spanish consulate in the U.S must be provided.
- Proof of freedom to marry. For Spaniards, the Civil Registry has a document for this purpose. Since there is no equivalent document in the U.S., a sworn
statement to the effect that the parties are single and free to marry, signed before an American Consul can be used.
- Certificate of residence. This document may be obtained at the Junta Municipal of the Tenencia de Alcaldia in the district of residence. If an American is not a permanent resident in Spain, he/she can sign an affidavit before an
American Consul indicating his/her place of residence for the last six years.
- Posting of Banns. The Posting of Banns is a public declaration of intent to marry. The Embassy or Consulate may issue a letter explaining it
is not required in the U.S.
- Certificate of Consular Inscription. The Embassy or Consulate can produce this letter once you have registered as a U.S. Citizen in Spain.
- If one party was previously married , he/she must present the previous marriage certificate and proof the marriage no longer exists (a divorce decree, an annulment
certificate or a death certificate). The documents must be original, bear the Apostille of the Hague, translated into Spanish
and the translation authenticated.
Spanish law recognizes religious marriages without a second, civil ceremony. For a religious ceremony, couples first need
authorization from the civil authorities, obtained by presenting the requirements described above. Each religious denomination
may have separate documentary requirements. As most religious marriages in Spain involve Catholics, the requirements for the
Catholic church are outlined below.
A Catholic ceremony involving a foreigner requires the Bishopric's permission (in Madrid: Calle Bailen, 8; Tel. 91-454-6400).
Obtaining permission for a Catholic marriage takes from one to three weeks. The following documents are required:
Birth Certificate. It must be translated and the translation authenticated.
Baptismal Certificate. It must have been issued no more than six months prior to the wedding and authenticated by the Bishopric of issuance. It must be translated and the translation authenticated.
Proof that Both Parties are Free to Marry. For Americans this consists of a sworn statement by the parents of the party stating he/she has never been married, witnessed
by the parish priest. One should note that a statement made by the party him/herself, while acceptable to the Civil authorities, is not acceptable
to the Bishopric in Madrid. The Church insists on a statement by the parents. The Bishopric of the parents' place of residence must authorize and seal the statement.