Do I need to register my marriage for the family member of an EU citizen if it was celebrated abroad?

marriage registration for family member visa

The residence permit as a family member of an EU citizen is one of the most common procedures to obtain residency in Spain. One of its main important requirements consists of demonstrating the legal relationship between both members, something that is done through the marriage certificate.

But this raises a common doubt many don’t know how to answer. Will the marriage certificate obtained in a non-EU country be valid for the procedure? Do I have to register this union beforehand or do I have to take any kind of extra step?

Let’s solve this doubt below.

The family meber visa is a residence permit for 5 years that allows the non-EU citizen to live and work legally in the Spanish territory thanks to being a relative of a national from the European Union.

One of the most important requirements to successfully obtain this residence permit is to demonstrate that the link between the non-EU and the European citizen actually exists.

That is to say, that the marriage has been correctly registered and is legally valid within the EU.

In most cases, the foreign couple has married in a country outside the European Union, and the question of whether this certificate will be valid inevitably arises.

And the answer, as always, depends. And it depends on the nationality of the European citizen.

Below you can find a list of all the countries that do not require the marriage to be registered (if it was celebrated outside the EU) in their country in order for the marriage to have full effect.

Thus, you will have to verify that the nationality of the EU citizen is on the list; and if it is not, it will be necessary to register the marriage in the country of origin of this member of the couple.

List of countries that DO NOT require the marriage registration

Below you will find the complete list of the EU countries that do not require the marriage to be registered in their own national territory in order to carry out the procedure of EU family member in Spain (in the case that the union was registered in a third country). 

That is because the country of origin of the European relative accepts marriages registered abroad, hence they are legally valid within the EU (hence also in Spain where the procedure will be carried out).

If that is the case, you just need to simply apostille/legalize the marriage certificate obtained, for example, in Japan, China, or any other non-EU country:

  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Rep.
  • Cyprus
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Luxembourg
  • Norway
  • Netherlands
  • The United Kingdom*
  • Sweden

It is important to note that residents in Spain who are citizens of the United Kingdom can prove the marriage with the non-EU citizen through a special certification issued in a British Consulate located in the Spanish territory (which must be translated and legalized or apostilled).

List of countries that DO require the registration

On the other hand, we find the list of countries whose marriage certificates would not be valid without first being registered in the country of the EU citizen:

  • Bulgaria
  • Denmark
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Estonia
  • France
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Hungary
  • Latvia
  • Lienchestein
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Switzerland
  • Spain

Next steps to successfully finish with your application

Marriage registration is just one of the first steps in the process of successfully obtaining a community card.

But what’s next, what are the other requirements?

Here you can access a complete guide with all the info about this permit.

Also, in this article we talk about mixed marriages in Spain for the cases in which the EU citizen is a Spanish national.

And, if you still have any doubts, our immigration lawyers are at your complete disposal:

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marriage registration for family member visa

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