Spanish Residency Through Marriage: A Step-by-Step Journey

Spanish Residency

Gaining Spanish Residency in Spain through marriage to a Spanish citizen presents a structured and legal avenue for non-EU nationals to live and work within the country. This process not only facilitates the union of families across borders but also integrates international residents into the Spanish social and economic fabric. Here, we outline the key aspects and procedural steps involved in obtaining residency in Spain through marriage, providing a comprehensive guide for those navigating this path.

Legal Framework for Residency Through Marriage

Spanish immigration law offers two principal routes for residency authorization via marriage: the Family Roots Authorization (Arraigo Familiar) for individuals already in Spain, and the Community Family Card for those outside Spain or wishing to formalize their status within. The Family Roots Authorization, streamlined in August 2022, simplifies the process for spouses already in Spain by removing the need to demonstrate financial stability or health insurance coverage.

Initiating the Application Process

Applications for the Family Roots Authorization can be initiated online through the official immigration website. This digital approach underscores the importance of having either professional assistance or a digital certificate to ensure the application’s integrity and compliance with legal requirements.

Documentation Requirements

The application process mandates the submission of several documents: proof of cohabitation, an official marriage certificate, a clean criminal record, and valid identity documentation. Approval grants a 5-year residency authorization, enabling the holder to engage in employment and contribute to the Spanish economy.

Community Family Card: An Alternative Path

The Community Family Card serves as an alternative for those seeking to join their spouse in Spain. This residency option is contingent upon proving the marital relationship and adheres to a slightly different process, especially for marriages conducted outside of Spain. For Spanish citizens marrying abroad, the union must be registered with the Spanish Civil Registry, a critical step for legal recognition within Spain.

If you want to know the key differences between the Community Family Card and the Arraigo Familiar, make sure to read this article.

Procedural Nuances for International Marriages

International marriages, whether conducted in Spain or abroad, require specific procedural steps for legal recognition. Marriages within Spain necessitate a pre-marital file, a procedure that can be initiated at the Civil Registry or through a notary. For those married outside Spain, the process involves registering the marriage in Spain for it to be recognized legally.

Recognizing Stable Partnerships

Spanish legislation also acknowledges stable partnerships, offering a pathway to residency for couples in a long-term relationship akin to marriage. This inclusivity reflects Spain’s commitment to recognizing diverse family structures and ensuring that all forms of partnership are afforded legal rights and recognition.

Obtaining Spanish nationality after marrying a Spaniard

Foreign nationals married to a Spanish citizen have the opportunity to apply for Spanish nationality by marriage after one year of legal residency in Spain. This residency must be legal, continuous, and immediately prior to the application. Applicants are required to submit their application at the Civil Registry corresponding to their residence in Spain.

This provision facilitates a pathway towards citizenship for those who have not only formed a marital union with a Spanish national but have also demonstrated a commitment to residing in Spain, adhering to its legal and social frameworks. This process underscores Spain’s inclusive approach to integrating individuals into its societal fabric, recognizing the importance of familial bonds in the context of national identity and citizenship.


Securing residency in Spain through marriage is a multi-step process that embodies the country’s open approach to international families and cultural integration. By providing clear legal avenues such as the Family Roots Authorization and the Community Family Card, Spain ensures that non-EU nationals married to Spanish citizens have a straightforward path to residency, employment, and participation in Spanish society.

Related article: “What is the marriage of convenience in Spain