So you’ve done it! You’ve convinced your Spanish boyfriend or girlfriend that the best and most fool-proof way for you to remain in Spain and be able to work legally is for them to sign a teeny piece of paper which doesn’t even legally change their marital status and really isn’t such a big deal.
Sound familiar? Eight years ago, I too had this conversation, (more of word vomit on my part), with my partner at the time trying to show him that it really wasn’t anything to be afraid of. And to my somewhat shock and surprise, he wasn’t! Neither was my mom, who, when she called me I gave her the same, “it-isn’t-marriage-and-really-isn’t-that-big-of-a-deal” speech and she told me the next time I asked to talk to her about something important, that I make it sound less like I have a terminal illness, and proceeded to ask me what documents I would need from the States. Moms.
Little did I know, that was the easy part. The difficult part was the gathering of documents, Apostilles, official translations, and worst of all, doing my best to appease bored government bureaucrats.
At the time, I had to use my small network of auxiliares, and speak with some who had also become pareja de hecho, in order to get the low down on what exactly it was that I needed. What I would have LOVED is a website, much like this one, to lay out clearly what I would need to do to get this done. So, ladies and gents, here you have it!
Before we get started, I must offer a word of warning. Different autonomous communities in Spain, and even different provinces may have slight variations of these requirements and processes. Due to this, I recommend you get acquainted as soon as possible with your local Consejería de Igualdad, Salud, y Políticas (it can be called something slightly different depending on where you are), and get this information straight from the horse’s mouth. For reference, I did my process in Cádiz in 2013.
Don’t let this be you.
What does “pareja de hecho” really mean?
Before we dive into the paperwork requirements, let’s clear up what pareja de hecho really means and who it is intended for. Hint–its not really intended for you. It is sort of a step toward marriage for couples who have probably been together for a long time, but aren’t at the marriage stage yet, or who do not foresee themselves getting married. So why would they do it?
- Medical leave permission. As their registered civil partner, if anything were to happen to them or to their immediate family, (up to 2nd line of kinship), they would be given medical leave at work. This includes maternity or paternity leave should they have children.
- Kids. Pareja de hecho and actual marriage are quite different, but with kids involved, they are quite similiar. As I mentioned above, mom and dad would be entitled to maternity and paternity leave and in the event of a separation, if no agreement had previously been settled, a judge would be responsible for deciding custody, just as in a marriage.
- Non Eu foreigners like you just wanting to hustle legally! If you’ve done a little bit of research, you know that by doing this civil union, you are entitled, as the partner of an EU resident, to 5 years of living and working in Spain, without having to worry about renewals or visa modifications every year or two. And once you pass those five years, you apply for permanent residency, (which you almost certainly will get), and voilá! You’ve made your dream and your mother’s nightmare come true–you never have to live in the USA again.
To see all the ways that marriage and civil unions in Spain are different, check out my post that explains all of it. The bottomline? Becoming pareja de hecho really does implicate much less than actual marriage, which is why it is so appealing for foreigners like us.
Minimum requirements to apply:
- one partner is from an EU country, (yes, you can register as pareja de hecho in Spain even if your partner is not Spanish, as long as they are from an EU member state), and the other is not
- **proof of 1 year minimum cohabitation/relationship** (or not, depending on your autonomous community)
- over the age of 18 or legally emancipated
- neither one is currently married or in another civil union
- declaration that you are not family members
- declaration of mental capacity to make decisions (these were both done orally when we signed the actual paper)
Remember–any of these documents that are not in Spanish must be translated officially first. Sometimes the process of requesting documents from the States and getting them translated is what takes the longest, so it is best to start requesting documents as soon as possible.
- Original and copy of non-EU member’s NIE (cannot be expired)–that’s you.
- Original and copy of non-EU member’s passport–also you.
- Original and copy of EU member’s DNI–your partner.
- Original and copy (always have at least two copies of everything. Ev.Ery.Thing) of your certificado de empadronamiento–this is the official certificate you get from your town hall, NOT the volante, which is like a temporary one. Depending on your autonomous community and/or province, you may be asked to show a padrón with you and your partner listed on it. In Cádiz, I was required to do this, however, in order to do so I only had to show a rental contract with at least one name on it, as well as my partner’s DNI and signature. (Spoiler alert, we were not actually living together at the time.)
- Official copy of non-EU member’s birth certificate, with the Apostille of the Hague. Both officially translated to Spanish.
- Official document and copy (usually obtained in the same office as your birth certificate) certifying that you are not currently married.
- Same official document from your partner–in Spain its called “Fe de Vida y Estado”
- Original and copy of the application they will give to you
- Payment of the fees of modelo-030, costing about 80 euros.
As I said before, this could vary, but very slightly, depending on the AC you’re applying in. For example, a reader who applied in Castilla y León didn’t need her birth certificate, but her and her partner did need to prove they had lived together (they had been “empadronados” together) for sixth months prior to applying. This is why it is worth it to go to the office and get information straight from the source!
Applying for residency
So you thought your nightmare was finished once you and your beau were an official pair in the eyes of the law? Come on…nothing in Spain is that easy! Yes, unfortunately, the pareja de hecho process is the fastest and easiest in this process. Basically once you have the documents you need, it is only a matter of signing. What takes the longest is applying for residency. Not because of the documents you need, but because the government can take up to 3 months once you turn in all of your documents to decide whether or not to give you residency.
Required documents to request residency:
- Official document and photocopy certifying your new pareja de hecho status
- Passport and photocopy of non-EU member
- NIE and photocopy of non-EU member
- DNI and photocopy of EU member
- If either of you is unemployed, you will need to show sufficient funds to support yourself–usually deemed as around 700 euros per month, or 8400 euros per year, but again, ask in your respective office. In my case we showed my bank account in Spain, in the States, my credit card balance, my partner’s job contract detailing his salary, as well as the job contract I had been offered at the time, and my partner’s bank account.
- Proof of private insurance coverage for non-EU member. (Once you are granted residency you can sign up for social security just like everyone else and get free public health care but until then, the Spanish state needs to know you won’t be a burden.
Here again, there can be certain discrepancies depending on where you apply. The same reader who applied in Castilla y León told me she was only given a 1 year card which she renewed for the 5 year card afterwards. She mentioned this could be due to the fact that she didn’t have a job at the time and her partner was a student, but again, check with your local office if you want to be sure!
If you’re still committed to tying the semi-official knot with your partner after reading about the process, then it is time to get going! Make the call to a trusted friend or family member to break the news and ask for their help collecting all of the dreaded documents you’ll need. Godspeed!!