Friday, July 2, 2010

Residency for non-EU nationals through marriage

One of the most common enquiries we get is from married couples settling in Spain seeking to establish residency where one is an EU national and one isn't. There is no problem getting residency for someone outside the EU on this basis, at least not in law, but it can be tricky in practice.

In theory the procedure is as follows:

The EU citizen gets residency first in the normal way (see the Advoco guide toSpanish residencycertificates). This is simple and will result in one half of the married couple having their residency certified with a green A4 page stating that they are on the Register of Foreigners and showing their NIE number.

Next the non-EU spouse has to apply for residency but in there case they are asking for a residency card rather than a certificate. They use the same application form EX16 (downloadSpanish residency application form here) but it is a tougher process. For a start they probably cannot simply go to the local police station but may need to make a prior appointment at the main provincial Oficina de Extranjeros. They also have to produce more documentation (detailed on page 2 of the form) but principally - and naturally enough - they need to show a marriage certificate. This guide by the British embassy in Madrid makes this sound a very complex process:

But in my experience dealing with the Malaga authorities, they are happy to accept certificates without a supplementary certificate from the Embassy and without being translated into Spanish. I have been assured that if the original language is in English or French then they don't need to be translated. The problem is that Spanish officialdom is not always consistent so don't be surprised if the translation suddenly becomes essential.

A more serious issue arises with certificates for marriages made outside of the EU altogther. EG because the couple did a romantic wedding in the Carribean or wanted to marry in the non-EU partner's home country. The authorities in Spain will definitely then want to see something that shows the marriage has legal force in the EU e.g. if a Brit marries a Australian in Antigua they will want to see that the certificate represents a valid marriage in Britain and this the whole EU. This will definitely involve a supplementary certificate from the relevant Embassy and, as the British Embassy link shows, this may open up other requirements. For example the guide talks about stamps from the Spanish embassy or consulate in the country where the wedding took place.

In summary, my advice would be to try and get residency without a translation/special stamps only if the marriage certificate is in English or French and is from an EU country. In other cases consult the embassy of the EU spouse. If you are planning to marry outside the EU do your research before you do so on what the rules are for the country of the wedding.


  1. Beautiful

    There is actually an online test that you can take, that will tell you if you qualify for the foreign earned income exclusion!!! Find it here:

    Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

  2. Hello members.I am British citizen and i live in Spain,i am in the Ukraine at the moment.I have recently got married to a Ukrainian girl.Having spent 3 weeks getting all the documents together we have now hit a major hurdle.The Spanish Embassy in Kiev have told us the marriage must be registered in the UK before we submit any documents with them.
    This is not on there website,it is not on any other website and it also clearly states on the British Embassy website that it is a matter of choice as to weather we register it in the UK or not.
    If we register it from the British Embassy in Kiev then they send it back to the UK and do NOT return it and yes of course the polite people at the Spanish Embassy want the original with an Apostille !!!!! and they want it registered before they can do anything with our documents.This situation makes no sense to us and of course we also have a 3 month time period to get the visa,get back to Spain and start with more documents over in Spain.
    I would like to know if anyone can help us please?
    I would appreciate if anyone did not send us messages regarding EU directives and EU laws....quite simply the Spanish Embassy will not listen to them..its there way or nothing.
    I have emails from the British Embassy and emails from Solvit and they all agree with me that they are wrong in what they say.
    Many thanks for reading this and i hope someone can help us very soon


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