Getting Married, Weddings & Giving Birth in Spain

30 March 2021

Marriages, Bodas and Births


Information about getting married, registering a wedding, eloping and giving birth for expatriates in Spain.


A child born in Spain is not automatically a Spanish citizen -  though, with a few rare exceptions, any such child has the right to receive Spanish citizenship.

In Spain, the marriage certificate is called a Libro de Familia. You inscribe your children in the same booklet.

If the spouses (or spouses-to-be) are from different countries, once the marriage or birth takes place, be sure to take the certificate to the expat’s consulate, so the marriage/birth can be registered with that country.  If you don’t, you may regret it eventually.

A child born in Spain is not automatically a Spanish citizen -  though, with a few rare exceptions, any such child has the right to receive Spanish citizenship.

Suppose you are a legal resident of Spain, and you return to your country of origin to give birth. Once you return to Spain, you may ask for residency for the child, based on reagrupación familiar.

When marrying a Spaniard in Spain, you can choose between a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony. Before the wedding you have to show proof of identity, and proof that you are not currently married. If you’re a Christian-but-not-Catholic foreigner getting married in a Catholic church in Spain, you may find the paperwork is easier than it is for your Catholic partner: you won’t need to show a Baptism certificate. The process of getting married starts with edictos (initial announcements of the wedding).  If no one presents proof to the contrary, the ceremony can take place about 20 days later.

After the ceremony, you have to register in the Registro Civil, where the Spanish government will give you a Libro de Familia.  This is the universal proof of your matrimony and of the children that you have, as well as other family conditions. Don’t forget to report your wedding at your own country’s Embassy or Consulate.

If you are married outside of Spain and one of the spouses is a Spanish citizen or legal resident (that is, with an NIE), the non-Spanish spouse does not automatically receive Spanish nationality. This person can get a reagrupación familiar visa before going to Spain. Once they are in Spain, the application process for the NIE will be easier. It will also take less time if they want to become a Spanish citizen. After the wedding, the Spanish citizen has to report the matrimony to the Spanish Embassy or Consulate, so it can be registered and validated in Spain. The Spanish Embassy or Consulate then gives you the Libro de Familia.

We started getting ours done 2 months ahead (on the advice of the British consulate) and very nearly had to cancel the wedding.

Not Spanish? Eloping in Spain

You can get married in Spain, even if neither of you are Spanish, but it's complicated. Following is a list of documents that are normally requested:

  • Application form
  • Birth Certificate
  • Proof that both parties are free to marry
  • Divorce/Annulment Certificate of any previous marriages.
  • Certificate of Residence. If not a permanent resident in Spain, you can sign an affidavit before a Consular Officer indicating your place of residence for the last 6 years, as well as your temporary residence in Spain.
  • Posting of Banns (a public declaration of intent to marry)
  • Certificate of Consular Inscription

We received the following from a fellow expat about her marriage experience, offering advice to get started with any paperwork earlier than you might initially consider: 

You should add a note to your bit about marrying in Spain that you should start getting the paperwork done at least 6 months ahead of the wedding (even if your own consulate says you should wait) because of all the documents and official translations of documents you need. We started getting ours done 2 months ahead (on the advice of the British consulate) and very nearly had to cancel the wedding (cue tears in the registry office and lots of pulling hair out). Also that the requirements for foreigners getting married vary from province to province - Granada, for example, asks for additional paperwork from the consulate/embassy of the foreign national.

 Separation is a legal process in Spain. After a year, you may divorce, but you can generally get legal separation validated as divorce in other countries.

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