In this article we will discover what exactly is a civil partnership in Spain (“pareja de hecho”), how it differs from marriage, what are the main requirements to register one, and how to do it step by step. In addition, you will learn how to obtain residency after registering a civil union. Let’s get started!
A civil partnerships, also known as civil union or “pareja de hecho” in Spanish, is the contractual relationship that publicly regulates the stable union between two people with joint vital interests and common cohabitation.
Although it may resemble marriage in certain aspects and many tend to confuse both terms, legally speaking a civil partnership is not comparable to it.
And that is because the civil union does not imply any type of personal or patrimonial consequence as broad or extensive as those legally implied by marriage.
In addition, as we will see below, the civil partnership is one of the most common ways to obtain residency in Spain (keep on reading if you want to know how).
Requirements to register your civil union in Spain
In Spain, anyone can register a civil partnership as long as they meet the following requirements:
- Being over 18 years old; or be an emancipated minor (from 16 years of age if you live self-sufficiently).
- Being single and not married, as this would invalidate the registration process. The same applies if you have registered your civil union and want to get married: you must dissolve the civil relationship before getting married.
- At least one of the two members of the couple must be registered in the autonomous community where the union will be registered.
- And, finally, a minimum period of joint cohabitation must be demonstrated.
In this regard, it is very important to understand that there is no state-level law regulating civil partnerships. Each autonomous community in Spain has its own rules and conditions to allow registration, and you must make sure to comply with them before starting the procedure.
That is why in some Autonomous Communities ask for a minimum period of both members living together. This period can be a minimum of 2 years, 1 year or 6 months; while in others, such as Catalonia or Aragon, it is not necessary to prove any amount of time.
However, if both members of the couple have children together, then it will not be required to prove any minimum period of cohabitation, since that period is presumed (that is, it is taken for granted in favor of the care of the minor).
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Step by step legal process
Civil partnerships must be registered within the registry of the Spanish regional government; that is, in the Registry of Unmarried Stable Partnerships.
To do so, there are two different options:
The first is going to the notary to accredit the partnership through a notarial act or deed, registering the will of both members of the relationship to form a pareja de hecho. This is undoubtedly the quickest and simplest option, especially since no minimum period of cohabitation is required.
For this, you will need to get an appointment. Send us an email at email@example.com and let us help you get an appointment in record time.
The second option is to apply for registration in the registry of unmarried couples of the corresponding autonomous community (“registro de parejas de hecho”), where a minimum period of cohabitation will be required.
As we have already mentioned, but it is worth repeating, at least one of the two members of the couple must be registered in the same region where the legal relationship will be registered.
Note also that at the time of registration 2 witnesses must be present in addition to the couple.
Once the registration has been notarized, you will receive the corresponding certificate at your home within a maximum period of 7 days.
Can homosexual couples also register in Spain? As long as they comply with all the requirements we have seen above, yes.
Required documents to register a civil partnership
Which are the documents you must submit during the registration day? Here’s the complete list:
- The passport of both members of the couple or any document works as an ID (either NIE, DNI, etc.).
- Birth certificate
- Proof of marital status, demonstrating that neither of both is currently married or registered in another civil partnership.
- In the case that one of the two members has been previously married, it will also be necessary to provide a final divorce judgment or marriage annulment.
- Family book if you have children in common.
- Certificate of joint census registration (called “empadronamiento” in Spanish), which is obtained in the town hall of the municipality in which both live.
- Inscription form with complete data.
- On a voluntary basis, you can present a document that explains how you want your economic relations to be regulated.
Also, keep in mind that you may be required to make an affidavit in front of the person registering the legal relationship.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that for any foreign document to be valid in Spain (e.g. birth certificate), it must be apostilled and duly translated into Spanish if it is in another language.
Main denial reasons when registering your legal relationship
Is it possible that the registration gets denied?
Yes, it is possible. The registration of a domestic partnership may be denied for the following reasons:
If the registration is made by unemancipated minors; that is, they are not living independently of their parents or legal tutors.
If the registration is made by de facto separated individuals; that is, individuals who have divorced from their former partner but not judicially or legally, just when it comes to the other aspects of their life together: they no longer live together, they no longer have joint bank accounts, etc. There must be legal recognition of the divorce in order for the new civil partnership to be registered.
People who already have a registered partnership with another person, or with the same person in another place (for example in a different Spanish region). You can only register your civil union in one region. If, for whatever reason, you want to register in a different one, you must first cancel the initial registration.
If you are blood relatives up to the third degree (parents, grandparents, grandchildren, children, nieces, nephews, uncles, etc.).
If there are second interests and the registration is made for convenience (under condition or you just want to register the partnership temporarily); for example if one of you is a foreigner and you do it only to get the residency in Spain.
Civil union economic regime
By default, the economic regimes that are related to marriage, such as separation of assets or the community of goods, do not apply to domestic partnerships.
That is why if you want to regulate your economic relations in a certain way (for example like any of those alternatives admitted in marriage), you must then draw up a document explaining the basis of the economic relationship and submit it on the day of registration.
This is what is known as autonomy of will.
Otherwise, if you do not present such a document, there will be no economic regime applicable.
Is there a widow's pension with civil partnerships?
Unlike marriage, a contractual relationship through which a widow’s or widower’s pension is offered to the widowed partner regardless of the number of years they have been together, the situation is different with a civil partnership.
Thus, the right to receive a widow’s pension will only apply if both partners have lived together for at least 5 years before death, and the duration of the union has been at least 2 years.
Finally, it is also important that the widower’s income does not exceed a maximum limit established by each autonomous community. If this minimum is exceeded, the widow/widower would not be entitled to the pension.
Civil partnership dissolution
In other words, what are the different ways in which the civil union can legally come to an end and cease to be valid?
- If one of the members of the couple is deceased
- By mutual agreement, just requiring a simple notification to the registry of unmarried couples.
- By the mere and unilateral decision of one of the two members if he/she notifies it to the Registry of Domestic Partnership.
- If there is a de facto separation of more than 6 months.
- Finally, if one of the two members gets married.
Doing pareja de hecho to get residency in Spain
One of the main benefits of registering a pareja de hecho in Spain is the possibility of obtaining residency.
More specifically, a civil union opens the door for non-EU citizens to obtain their EU family card, a residence permit that allows them to live and work in Spain for 5 years.
And that will be possible only after they have registered their civil partnership with a citizen of the European Union.
The process is quite simple and starts right after you have received the civil union registration document at your home address. You will then be able to submit all the documentation to the immigration office, and you will be able to do so even when entering Spain as a tourist.
In addition, as we explained in this other article, it is also possible to obtain residency as a stable partner if the couple is not registered but there is sufficient evidence to prove the existence of the relationship.
For any doubt, or if you need us to help you with the application of your residence permit and with the registration of your civil partnership, our lawyers are at your complete disposal: