Everything You Need to Know about Applying for Pareja de Hecho

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.

Yes, I wore white to our pareja de hecho signing. Sue me. 


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)

Required documents:

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.
If the pareja de hecho works out, why not tie the knot?! (Minimal extra paperwork required!)

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!!

30 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know about Applying for Pareja de Hecho

  1. Hi!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have a question regarding the -Official copy of non-EU member’s birth certificate, did you get in the US or were you able to get it at the Embassy in Madrid? really helpfullll!!!! 🙂 Carolina


    1. Hi Carolina! For me it was much easier to ask a family member, in this case my mom, to request one from the vital records department of my state, than to have to go to Madrid and ask for it. I have heard of people who have done that though! During these tricky times it might be best to check waiting times at both places 🙂


      1. Hi! If memory serves me correcting once she was able to get that document, she sent it to be legalized with the apostille of the hague, yes 🙂


  2. Hi Emily,

    This was such a great explanation. I really appreciated it! One thing I am having a hard time with is the official document saying you are single. The research I’ve done says that the US does not have any document like this. The only solution I have found is to go to the US embassy in Madrid and request that document. What did you do, and if you did get it from the US, what is the actual document called? Thanks, Jordan.


    1. Hi Jordan! My local town hall did have this document, and I requested it with my birth certificate, from the vital record department. I think it might be called a single status certificate. I was lucky in that my mom was able to go and ask about it, but try emailing your town hall in the states and see what they say!


      1. Okay, I was reading my town hall’s website and it didn’t say anything about this. I will call and ask once things start to calm down a bit! Thanks for responding so quickly!


  3. Hi Emily,

    This was such a great explanation. I really appreciated it! One thing I am having a hard time with is the official document saying you are single. The research I’ve done says that the US does not have any document like this. The only solution I have found is to go to the US embassy in Madrid and request that document. What did you do, and if you did get it from the US, what is the actual document called? Thanks, Jordan.


  4. Hi Emily, thanks for this, super helpful! You mention that you had to submit your NIE as part of the process, but my American girlfriend (I am the Spanish resident in our situation) doesn’t have a NIE since she’s never lived here before, would that be an issue?

    I assume this might be beyond your expertise, so if you don’t know i’m sorry to bother you! Thanks a lot


    1. Hey! So she is only here on a tourist visa? If she’s outstayed her visa, I would recommend getting back to the states before trying to start the process. If she is here on a tourist visa, I guess I’m not sure how to proceed since I’m guessing you guys haven’t lived together for an extended period of time either, and I don’t know that with just her passport she would be able to apply–and even if so, the process itself takes probably 3-6 months from start to finish, so her tourist visa would run out before she is able to get a nie. All this said, you are right that this is outside of my area of expertise and my best advice is to go to your local office and ask exactly what requirements you’ll need there! Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!


  5. Hey there,
    I’m in the process of a divorce in the States, and I am applying ( to make things semi-official) for a legal separation agreement. I read ( only from one website/blog) that a separation agreement would be fine, but while checking other resources this isn’t mentioned. They only refer to the divorce decree ( which this is actually going to take some time to make official. And I really would like to get this process started ASAP as this is my last year here on a student visa.) Do you know if the legal separation status would suffice?


    1. Hey! Great question, and not one I’ve ever gotten before. Because these things can vary from province to province, I would recommend going directly to your local office and asking about it. Because they ask for a paper which confirms your official unmarried status, I am not sure that only a separation status would be enough, but it also seems like the sort of thing you want to be sure about before proceeding through the entire nightmare of paper work! Let me know what they tell you!


  6. Hi Emily, Just a quick question. After receiving the official document certifying your new ´´pareja de hecho´´ status, how long does it take till you receive your residence permit.


    1. Hi! We signed PDH papers on April 1st and I believe i was granted residency in either july or august i believe. This should be taken with a grain of salt though for the current times, as i know wait times have been greatly extended due to covid 😦


  7. Hi Emily!

    I’m a bit confused about having proof of 1 year minimum cohabitation/relationship. I can certainly prove that I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year, but haven’t lived with him for a year as I’ve either lived in Paris for half our relationship or LA (cause of the travel bans). I’m wondering how that’s possible to show you’ve cohabitated for a year, unless you get some sort of visa. Or does one overstay? Sorry for the questions. I just want to make sure I understand. Thank you so much!!


    1. Hi Kimberly! I believe i mention this in the post, but this is something you’ll want to clear up in the province where you are doing the PDH, because depending on where you do it, there could be different regulations. For example, I didn’t need to show we had been together a year when we did our paperwork in Cadiz in 2012. Although my post can serve as a general outline, and most of the requirements will be the same, you really should ask locally so they can give you the exact requirements you need there 🙂 Things can change so quickly so even my experience and the subsequent research i did for this post could be slightly different for where you are now!


  8. Hi Kimberly,
    This is really great info.
    Thank you!
    I have a question. When you mentioned that you have submitted your Bank statements from the US, did you have it notarized or something?
    I am asking because me and partner are waiting for result of our pareja de hecho and once its available we will proceed with applying the Tarjeta communitaria. And I also want to submit my bank statements from Costa Rica. Also, I do have job and currently working remotely. I was thinking also to submit my Certificate of Employment. But I am not sure If I need to have it legalized or something.
    Thanks a lot for your inputs 🙂


    1. Hi! At the time we did it and in the place we did it (Cadiz), we didn’t have to have that stuff notarized, no! I also had a job offer and that wasn’t notarized or anything either! I hope this helps!


  9. Hello Emily “)

    What if you just got married? I know it’s not easy in Spain when it comes to paperwork at all, but what abut this scenario?

    Thank you.


  10. Hi! Are we able to get our birth certificate apostille stamped at the US embassy in Madrid? I have my birth certificate here but it doesn’t have the stamp, and with the way things are going who knows how long it’ll take to send to the States and back…


    1. If i remember correctly you need to get it apostilled and then have both of them translated to Spanish. Even if you’re able to get the apostille in madrid it would be through the US embassy so youd just give them your BC in english, get the apostille and have them both translated 🙂


  11. Hi Emily, many thanks for the useful guidelines.

    My only question is:
    When you say “contact the source for the exact requirements”. Which source/office are you referring to?
    I know the requirements for pareja de hecho, but I’m not sure about the next steps, i.e requirements to get the tareja communtario or permisio de trabajo for my partner who is from a non EU country. We live in Catalonia.

    So I would like to know which source I need to contact?

    Many thanks


    1. Hi Dan! It tends to vary from place to place, but doing a bit of research it looks like for Catalonia, this page seems to have the info you’re looking for. https://web.gencat.cat/es/tramits/tramits-temes/Registre-de-parelles-estables-de-Catalunya?moda=1 I’m not sure where you live in Catalonia, but in general it seems to be the Departamento de Justicia or Dret i d’Entitats Jurídiques. At the bottom of that page you can click on “Presencialmente” to see where the offices are, however it looks like you can also apply online. I hope this helps! Also–once you have your pareja de hecho signed, then you do the next step in the Oficina de Extranjeria, which is applying for the tarjeta de residencia–this also gives permission to work to the person who holds it.


  12. Hi Emily!

    This is great information- thank you so much for breaking everything down!
    My question: (which is likely not in your realm of expertise and if so, sorry to be a nuisance!) Can you apply for the Pareja de Hecho before moving to Spain? Background: I met my Spanish boyfriend while he was living in the states and now we’ve decided to move to Spain together and the Pareja de Hecho seems to be the way to go. However, it appears geared toward those already living in Spain. I’m just hoping to have everything settled by the time we move there so I don’t have to worry about any (or very few) hiccups. Thanks for any guidance!!



    1. Hi Morgan! Im guessing then that your boyfriend is Spanish or from the EU? I’m fairly certain you need to physically be there, but if you can have your paperwork in order beforehand it would make things a lot faster! Remember that some autonomous communities require a certain length of time living together so if you have that from the States it should be officially translated to Spanish, as well as the other docs you need from the States. Most places i believe will want to see proof that you are registered as living together at the same address, whether or not they require youve lived together for a certain period of time or not. So my short answer to your question is: Im not 100% sure but if you get your things together, once youre in Spain you can get things together quickly enough! I hope that helps!


  13. Hi Emily,

    I know this may be out of your realm of knowledge, but with everything happening with covid my TIE is STILL processing after having started the process at the end of September. You mention that it is the NIE that is needed, and I am here legally working for the government. When you say an NIE that is not expired do you mean the TIE?


    1. Hi Katlyn! You’re right…I wish I knew for sure but my GUESS is that just having a valid NIE is enough…after all, the TIE is simply the card, so I would tend to believe that as long as the number is valid, that’s enough…especially if it isn’t anything that you’ve done wrong. I hope this helps!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s