Foreign Marriage Registration in Spain – Introduction

We all have numerous doubts before getting married (or we should!), but we specially do when one of the factors – we believe – that could vary the result we are looking for: register our marriage, legally recognise our marital status to finally take effect against third parties. A foreign marriage registration usually raises parallel doubts. How do I do it?

What leads our clients to ask the following questions?

Doubts do not arise when the celebration of the marriage is carried out between a couple, two people of the same religion, the same applicable legal system and all the procedures are carried out in the country of origin of both contracting parties, that is, in the country where the marriage is desired for it to take effect. In this scenario it is quite simple to follow all the steps for the marriage to take effect against third parties. These follow a streamlined pattern without major questioning.

This happens in countries such as Spain where individuals can either get married in church or following the guidelines established by the Civil Registry that is responsible for the registration of this new marital union. The steps are set, known to most and most acquaintances will be able to guide you without the need to get legal guidance. However, this rule does not apply when two individuals (whether they are of the same nationality or not) were married outside the Kingdom of Spain and wish to register it in what is now their country of residence, for example. How can I register my Islamic marriage? Before which organizations? What documents do I have to provide? Legalized or Apostilled? How long would it take to recognize my marriage? These are just some of the questions we regularly receive from our clients.

What is the competent body for Foreign Marriage Registration?

How to know which is the competent body in each case? If at least one of the spouses resides and is registered in Spain, the competent body for registering marriages celebrated abroad in this case is the Central Civil Registry (CCR), located in Madrid. However, if the spouses do not reside in Spain, they must register their marriage at the corresponding Spanish Consulate. Of course all instances must be assessed on personalised basis.

Documents to Prepare

The documents that must be provided for the registration of marriages celebrated abroad are the following: ·

  • Application form of the marriage celebrated abroad (this form is provided by the professionals of our firm).
  • Marriages of Spanish nationals, both must present their Spanish ID. In the cases of any other nationality, they will preferably provide their valid NIE or Passport.
  • Literal birth certificate of both applicants.
  • Registration certificate of both spouses.
  • Original marriage certificate, duly legalized and translated, unless exempted.
  • If one of the applicants was divorced at the time of marriage, they will provide a literal certificate of their previous marriage, with a marginal note of divorce.
  • If either of the contracting parties was widowed at the time of the marriage, the following shall be provided: (a)Certificate of your previous marriage, and (b) Death certificate of the spouse.

Among the aspects that must be taken into account when presenting this documentation are the following:

  • All documents submitted must be originals.
  • All foreign documents must be legalised by the corresponding authorities in each case. (Corresponding zeals or Apostille of The Hague – depending on each country).
  • All documents must be translated, except in the event that they are multilingual (only translations carried out by a Diplomatic, Consular or Sworn Interpreter are accepted).
  • All documents expire 6 months after issuance, except for the census, which expires 15 days after issuance.

Approximate processing time

The approximate time to carry out the registration of the marriage before the CCR of Madrid is unknown since the regulations do not set a time frame in which the resolution of the file is guaranteed. This being said, according to our practice we can establish an approximate range of between 1 and 2 years.

Advantages of foreign marriage registration

In general, as it is a process that takes about 1-2 years, we recommend that our clients register it as soon as possible, in order to enjoy the benefits of its inscription.

Among the most notable advantages:

  •  it is a procedure that can be carried out from the comfort of your home, without the need to travel through appointed representatives.
  • Foreigners who have married a Spanish citizen, once their marriage celebrated abroad has been registered, may apply for Spanish nationality one year after its registration.


We trust that this publication will help you to understand the basic concepts about the registration in Spain of marriages celebrated abroad and we remain at your complete disposal for any questions regarding this publication of general application. For more information published in English  you can visit all our publications in this link as well as the videos in English of our Managing Partner Maria Rubert.