All posts in Bureaucratic Paperwork How-To’s

How to apply for “pareja de hecho” (civil union) in Spain

If you’re living in Spain (or thinking of moving here) and are in a relationship with a local, you’ve probably heard of “pareja de hecho.”

“Pareja de hecho” means something like “official couple” and is roughly the equivalent of a “civil union.” It gives you many of the advantages of being married, without many of the obligations.

One of those advantages is being able to live and work in Spain if your “pareja” (partner) is a European citizen.  Once you have official pareja status, you’re able to apply for a residency permit under the “reuniting with family” process, exactly as if you were married.

Here are the steps to follow:

Request an appointment

The first step is to go right now to Calle Gran Via, 18  (if you’re in Madrid) and request an appointment for the PdH Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM.  The wait for an appointment can be six months or more. This must be done in person but the process is simple and takes about 5 minutes.  Be sure to bring your TIE or passport with you.  You’ll end up with a little piece of paper with your appointment date and a sheet of instructions, which brings us to…


The requirements for PdH vary by community, so verify what the requirements are in the area where you will be filing.  In Madrid, the requirements are as follows:

  1. You must be over the age of 18.
  2. You must have lived together for 12 uninterrupted months. In Madrid, this is confirmed through the written statement signed by your witnesses.
  3. At least one member of the union must be “empadronado” in the Community of Madrid.  You do not have to be be “empadronados” together.
  4. You must be single, divorced, legally separated or widowed.
  5. You must not be related.
  6. You must not be already “pareja-ed” with someone else.
  7. You must be mentally capable of entering into the union.


One month before your appointment, you must present the following documentation, original and photocopy, in person in the same office where the appointment was requested Monday through Friday between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. These documents must all be a maximum of 3 months old at the time of your appointment, so plan accordingly!

  1. A completed “solicitud” –
  2. Proof of the paid “tasa” – Modelo 030.  You could wait and turn this in the day of your appointment.  The cost is currently 82.12€.
  3. Valid NIF or NIE, passport or residency card for both members of the pareja and two witnesses. For the witnesses, you can provide a photocopy of their IDs when you turn in your paperwork.  On the day of your appointment, your witnesses will need to come in person with the valid IDs.
  4. Certificate of Empadronamiento – Not a “volante”.  You can request this online and have it mailed to you at
  5. Proof of marital status – Basically an official paper that says you are single. Spain regularly provides this to its citizens but there is no U.S. equivalent.

For Spaniards – If you live in Madrid, go to the Registro Civil at Calle Pradillo, 66.  You don’t need an appointment, just your ID.

For Americans – You must make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy for “notary services”. The U.S. Embassy is located at Calle Serrano, 75.  Appointments can be made here.  At the appointment, you will sign a sworn statement, in Spanish, that you are single.  The consul will then stamp the document. All you need to bring is your passport and 40€.

Because this document is from a foreign government, it must be “legalized”. This means another appointment, which can be made here, at the office of legalizations in Calle Juan de Mena, 4.

Once you have your “pareja de hecho” status, then it’s time to apply for residency, which will give you the right to live and work in Spain.

The process for applying for residency, along with all the requirements, can be found on this official information page (in Spanish).

One thing to keep in mind is that, you shouldn’t have any problem doing “pareja de hecho” with your partner; however if at least one of you is not gainfully employed you may have trouble being approved for residency. If neither of you are employed, it is possible to make up for that by showing funds in the bank (rule of thumb I’ve heard is around 10,000 euros at minimum).  That issue could be the topic for another post!

I hope this helps some of you through this process.  It’s definitely one of the simplest ways to gain the right to achieve Spanish residency.

A special thanks to Elise Horn for compiling the information used in this post.

Essential links for dealing with the Spanish immigration office (extranjeria)

The information in this post was collected from the Oficina de Extranjeria in Madrid in January 2016.

Oficina de Extranjeria –  or

For Links to all of the other Spanish Extranjeria Offices across Spain, click here:

Madrid Extranjeria Offices Information:

  • Main Office for General Information in Madrid:
    • Calle Manuel Luna, 29 (Metro: Estrecho – L1)
    • Hours Open – Monday to Thursday 9am-5pm and Fridays 9am-2pm (*Except for the week of San Isidro, Christmas week and National Bank Holidays)
  • Branch Offices:
    • Calle Fuego, 26 – Alcobendas (Metro: Marques de Valdavia – L10)
    • Calle San Nicasio, 31 – Leganes (Metro: Sur Leganes Central – L12)
  • Offices for Specific Information:
    • Calle Garcia de Paredes, 65 (Metro: Gregorio Marañon – L7 & L10)
      • Humanitarian Reasons, Expulsions & Fines, Gender Violence
    • Avenida Plaza de Toros, 14 (Metro: Vista Alegre – L5)
    • Calle Silva, 19 (Metro: Callao – L5 & L3)

Presenting Your Documentation:

Renovaciones de Residencia y Trabajo:

  • You have 60 days before the Expiration Date on your card and up to 90 days after that date to renew your residency. By putting in your paperwork to renew will not put you in a state of “limbo” but will actually still let your residency be valid until the official resolution has been decided. This is why it is extremely important when you put in your paperwork for renewal to keep your “expediente”.

Resoluciones Favorables:

  • When you get a Resuelto Favorable for your renewal of residency/ residency and work/ larga duracion/ or student visa, you do not need to get a second copy of your “resolucion”, you can directly apply for an appointment to get your fingerprints and new identity card.
  • When you are getting a Modification to your “autorizacion” or permit/visa, then YES, IT IS MANDATORY to get a duplicate of your “resolucion”.

(*If you see anything wrong with this information or any links that do not work, please make sure to contact us as we know sometimes there are technical issues and we want to keep this post as up-to-date as possible. Thanks!*)

How to get an “Autorización de Regreso”

Got a trip planned? Have you already been living in Spain? If you are traveling outside of Spain and your residency card (NIE) is expired (in the process of renewal), then you must get the autorización de regreso in order to be able to re-enter Spain. It’s easy to get this, which we lay out for you in this post.

barajasIt does not matter if you are travelling to another country within the European Union or outside, nor at what stage you are at in the NIE renewal process. If your NIE is expired and you travel outside of Spain, you must solicit the autorización de regreso in order to re-enter Spain. Technically, if you travel to the Spanish Canary or Balearic islands you do not need the autorización.
Read More…

What is a “Certificado de Empadronamiento”?

Many bureaucratic processes in Spain require you to present a “Certificado de Empadronamiento.” If you are wondering what the heck that is, it is basically just an official register of where you live. It is similar to the Census in the U.S., except that it is done on an ongoing basis, not once every 10 years. They use the data they collect to keep track of demographic information and to decide how to allocate resources across regions and municipalities. Getting your certificate is quite an easy process, which we lay out for you in this post.

The Empadronamiento, also known as the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes, is a municipal register or census record, similar to an electoral roll. To register on the Padrón is to “empadronarse“. Registering on the empadronamiento places a resident of a town on the list of local inhabitants.

Registration with the Padrón Municipal de Habitantes is obligatory for anyone planning to reside in Spain for more than six months per year. Residents may register individually or as a family. To be registered is to be “empadronado“. Read More…

How to get an FBI background check in 2 weeks instead of 6

For nearly every visa or residency process for Spain, there is one dreaded requirement for Americans: The FBI background check. But, have no fear! The process of getting one is a lot easier than it used to be.

It used to take 6 weeks to get a U.S. federal background check — but not anymore!

The FBI has named a select few private companies as its elite partners in helping to expedite the otherwise lengthy background check getting process.  These companies are called channelers and you can find the full list here.  I have not used a channeling service myself, but I would if I were in a pinch. I know two people in the American Expats in Spain facebook group who had success with such an agency. I have heard good things about Accurate Biometrics and Read More…