Marrying in Spain is more complicated than in the United States.  Approval of a marriage application often takes as long as 45 days.  Policies and procedures vary from region to region.  For this reason, the Embassy/Consulate General suggests that American citizens consult with regional authorities early in the process.

In general, legal and valid marriages contracted abroad are also valid in the United States.  Should you have any questions about the validity of a marriage performed abroad, you should contact the Attorney General’s Office of your U.S. State where you are domiciled (either the State of last residence or the one which you consider home, where you vote and have a driver’s license).

U.S. diplomats and consular officers cannot perform marriages.  Marriage is a function reserved solely to the State, and is beyond the authority of U.S. diplomats and consular officers who are Federal officials.

Terminations of marriages require the assistance of attorneys.

Civil Marriages Formalities in Spain

Applications must be made directly to the Civil Registry (Registro Civil) or District Court (Juzgado) where at least one of the applicants resides.  This requirement does not imply the celebration of the marriage in the municipality of the given Civil Registry:

  1. Application Form: Can be obtained from the Civil Registry/District Court assuming jurisdiction.
  1. Birth Certificate: The original document is mandatory.  To obtain a birth certificate from your state visit:
    Apostille:  Foreign birth certificates must be legalized to be valid in Spain.  The Apostille is an official international seal verifying a document for use outside its country of origin.  It is issued by an authorized office in the state where your certificate was issued, NOT by the Spanish or U.S. Consulate.  To obtain The Hague Legalization Convention Apostille please visit: Naturalized citizens should check with the embassy/consulate of their native country for guidance on authentication of birth certificates, as the Apostille is not available in certain countries.
    Translation:  Foreign birth certificates must be translated into Spanish by an official translator after you have received it with the Apostille.  Visit the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ web site for information on Sworn Translators throughout Spain at:  Or access this link(PDF 620K) to download a list of translators in the Barcelona area. 
  1. Proof Both Parties Are Free to Marry (Fe de Soltería): The Fe de Solteria is required by some civil registries. Make sure you inquire at your local registry whether this document is required.  No document equivalent to the “Fe de Solteria y Vida” exists in the United States.  Spanish authorities will accept a sworn statement from the U.S. citizen affirming that he/she is single and free to marry executed before a U.S. Consular Officer.  This document is in Spanish.  To obtain one please bring your current U.S. passport.  If you are divorced, we suggest that you bring a copy of the divorce decree to complete the affidavit properly.
    Fee:  There is a fee of US$ 50.00 (or the equivalent in Euros) for each affidavit and may be done at the same time as items 5 and 6.
    Appointment:  An appointment must be booked on-line for this service at our web site:
    Schedule an Appointment for Notarial Services Embassy Madrid
    Schedule an Appointment for Notarial Services S. Consulate General Barcelona
  1. Divorce/Annulment/Death Certificates: If you have been married before, you must submit evidence that the relationship has ended.  Access the following link for instructions on how to obtain vital records:  Certified documents originated outside of Spain must be accompanied by an Apostille and Spanish sworn translations. Please see information on Apostille and Translation above.
  1. Certificate of Residence: U.S. citizens legally residing in Spain for the prior two years can obtain a certificate of residence at no charge from the Tenencia de Alcaldía in their district of residence (Empadronamiento).  U.S. citizens who are temporary residents of Spain or have lived here less than two years may execute an affidavit regarding their place of residence before a consular officer.  Please bring your valid U.S. passport.  See Appointment and Fee above.  This document is in Spanish. Spanish law may permit foreigners who are not Spanish legal residents to marry here.  The different autonomous communities in Spain may, however, interpret this law differently and may be required that one of the parties be a citizen or resident of Spain.
  1. Posting of Banns:  Banns are the public announcement that a couple plans to marry, giving any knowledgeable citizen an opportunity to object.  If required, U.S. citizens can execute an affidavit at the U.S. Embassy Madrid or Consulate General Barcelona.  Bring your valid U.S. passport. See Appointment and Fee above. This document is in Spanish.

Once you execute the affidavit(s) before a Consular Officer, you are required to legalize the Officer’s signature through the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Madrid:

Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación (MAEC)- Sección de Legalizaciones
Calle Pechuán, 1, 28002 Madrid
Web: MAEC Appointments