Investigating whether or not you can have a legal wedding in Spain? Well this FAB Guide addresses everything you need to know about getting married there. If you are Catholic, you’re sorted as it’s relatively straight forward and we will walk you through the process but if it’s a civil ceremony you want, sit down. We need to talk. It’s even more awkward than getting legally married in France.

Some quick facts about organising a legal wedding in Spain;

✈ Catholic weddings are the only legally recognised religious wedding ceremonies in Spain. In fact, a Catholic wedding is the only way to be legally married in Spain if you are a non national.

✈ For other religions, you can have a blessing, but the paperwork will have to be sorted out at home.

✈ There is a 2 year residency requirement if you want to have a Civil Ceremony.

Legal Weddings in Spain

Photography by Aaron Delesie via Small Wedding Style


Not great news here I’m afraid. It’s just not possible to have a civil ceremony in Spain unless one of you is a citizen or a resident in Spain for at least two years. It seems a little pointless to get into the paperwork and document requirements as we find it unlikely that any of you are having a destination wedding in Spain if you are already living there but for those interested, the documents required are as follows;

✈ Original birth certificate in its long form

✈ Passport

✈ Fe de Solteria y VidaCertificate of No Impediment to Marriage

This is basically your proof of freedom to marry and may be obtained from your local registry office or consulate.

✈ Original marriage and divorce / death certificate if appropriate.

✈ If either party is widowed, then both the original marriage certificate and death certificate must be presented together with sworn translations.

✈ Certificate of Empadronimiento | Proof of residency

This can be obtained from the Tenencia de Alcaldía (town hall) in which you are a resident.

All documents that are in English must be stamped with an Apostille Stamp. An Apostille Stamp authenticates documents executed outside of Spain (such as a birth certificate,) so that it will be recognised as genuine/ official / legitimate for use in other countries, such as Spain.

All Documents must be accompanied by their Spanish translations.

✈ Banns must be posted for a period of at least 15 days. The Office of the Registrar will then issue a marriage license and once the wedding ceremony is over After the ceremony is performed, your marriage will be recorded in the Civil Registry and a Spanish marriage certificate is issued to you.


If a civil ceremony is what you require, there are only two options available to you to overcome the residency requirement. The first is to get married in a civil ceremony back home and have a blessing in Spain. The second is to get married in Gibraltar. I know it’s a different country but Gibraltar borders northern Spain and it is much easier for foreign nationals to get married here and because it is so close, you can hop back to Spain for your wedding celebrations. Or stay in Gibraltar. It’s also pretty! Check out the FAB Guide to Legal Weddings in Gibraltar.


How to get married legally in Spain

Photography by Aaron Delesie via Small Wedding Style


If you or your partner are Catholic, then you can be legally married in a catholic wedding ceremony in Spain, actually – it’s about the only way to get married legally in Spain. The process isn’t too painful and you have to go through most of the steps the same way you would if you were getting married in a Catholic Church at home. Here’s how it goes.

✈ At least one partner in the couple has to be Catholic and neither can be divorced.

✈ It’s a long process, start at least 6 months in advance, longer if possible.

✈ Paperwork needs to be completed at home, usually through the bride’s parish but certain documents such as the groom’s baptismal cert will be required . The priest will get in touch with the parish in Spain and will guide you through the paperwork.

✈ Forms and documents need to be translated into Spanish.


1 ✈ Pre-nuptial enquiry

Your local parish will provide you with this and it is required for both of you.

2 ✈ Baptismal, Communion and Confirmation Certificates issued by your parish church and within the last 6 months.

3 ✈ Fe de Solteria y Vida | Letter of Freedom to Marry

A formal letter from your parish priest that states that you have fulfilled your Pre – Marital course requirements. This letter should also include permission from the priest that you are free to marry in a Catholic Church elsewhere. The priest will forward this on to the local Archbishop who will prepare a cover letter. Along with the rest of the items listed below, your priest or Archbishop will forward these documents on to the local bishop in Spain (see next point) who in turn will let the church you are to be married in know that everything is in order.

✈ Bishop’s Special Permission

Non-nationals need to have their documents sent to the Bishop of the diocese in which they intend to marry to receive special permission. This can take up to four weeks and should be sent by your local Archbishop or priest. This list of Catholic Diocese’ in Spain might be helpful.

4 ✈ Other Documentation

Along with the documents above, the Archbishop will also need to send on certificates that might be appropriate such as Death Certificate, a Decree of Nullity, or a dispensation letter if one half of the couple is not Catholic.

Documents should reach the church you wish to be married in at least 2 months before the wedding date.

Very Important

Wedding dates need to be organised directly with the church in Spain. After the wedding, you must deliver the marriage papers to the local Spanish Civil Registry to legalise them.

Civil Ceremonies in Spain

Photography by Aaron Delesie via Small Wedding Style


Unfortunately, you can only be married legally in Protestant, Islamic and Jewish ceremonies if you can meet the 2 year residency requirements.


If you are prepared to get married in a civil ceremony at home first, then you can arrange to have a religious blessing in the church of your faith. If not, like the civil ceremony alternative – Gibraltar might the best option. You can be legally married in the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Methodist and Jewish services there and if Spain is still in your heart, you can host your reception in Southern Spain, a relatively short drive from Northern Gibraltar. Check out our FAB Guide to Gibraltar for more information.

If you’re thinking Spain is not ideal for you, why not check out our guides to getting legally married in Italy, France and Gibraltar? There are so many beautiful wedding destinations in Europe!

6 Responses

  1. Ania


    We are getting married in a Catholic church in Barcelona next year. I am wondering if all of the documents that we need to take to the Spanish Civil Registry we will get from the priest that will marry us or do we need to prepare some of them on our own (before the ceremony)? What are the documents that we need to take to the Registry? Also, after taking the documents to the Registry Office, will we get a marriage certificate that is valid in England or do we need to do something else with that certificate (e.g. take it to the consulate)?

    Thank you!

  2. Kate hughes

    Hi, I’m looking to get married in Ibiza maybe next year, does the catholic ceremony have to be done in a church or does anyone know if we could have our catholic ceremony outdoors?
    Thanks, Kate

  3. Anna

    Hi! Does somebody know how to get hold of a priest for the ceremony? It would be ideal if he would speak English and Spanish but only Spanish would do. We have already a place with a church.
    Many thanks!

  4. Caroline

    My boyfriend and I are looking to get married in Spain next fall. We found this website in Google that seems to organize weddings in Spain, it says on their website that they take care of all the paperwork in addition to the flights, accomodations and catering. The thing is we weren’t able to find any reviews about them, has anybody got any reliable feedback? Much appreciated!


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