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Civil partnership in Spain for Canadians


My Experience with doing the Pareja de Hecho (registered partnership) in Spain.


In this guide, I’ll share insights from my own experience getting the pareja de hecho in Spain (Malaga) between fall of 2022 to Summer 2023, but please keep in mind that the process may have evolved, so use this as a reference only.

My advice for you is that it is good to start as early as possible and plan far ahead. Getting the pareja is just the first step you need to getting a 5 year residency card. So don’t be happy just yet and assume you are granted a 5 year residency upon getting this approved!

Many people don’t realize this but having a pareja certificado does not give you the entitlement to be a resident of Spain, find work, and live like a local. The next step would be to get a tarjeta de communitaria. Recently, the Tarjeta is being replaced by Arriago Familar which can be an easier process because of less paperwork.

The basics about Pareja de Hecho

In Spain, “pareja de hecho” translates to “registered partnership” or “civil union” in English. It is a legal status that allows unmarried couples to officially register their relationship with the government. While it doesn’t carry the legal responsibilities as marriage does, it does provide certain legal and financial rights and responsibilities to the couple.

Obtaining a pareja de hecho with your Spanish partner is an important step towards legal recognition and solidifying your relationship in Spain. It provides non-Eus the benefit of finding work legally and obtaining rights to live up to 5 years before renewal of residency status. However, the process can be complex and varies from region to region. In counties in Spain such as Catalonia, there is no minimum period of cohabitation required for registration. This can be a very advantageous point for those who have only been living together for a short time.

Navigating the paperwork and patiently waiting for approval can be daunting, but with proper planning and knowledge, you can streamline the process and avoid unnecessary fees from lawyers. In my case, my partner wanted to save money from paying lawyers to do our application and we did it all ourselves. You may choose to do this too if you like.

Now let’s dive into the essential steps and tips for a successful pareja de hecho application in Spain.


Spain is divided into many regions as shown in the above map and each region has their own requirements and processes for applying. Couples serious about registering as pareja de hecho should consult with the relevant local authorities or seek legal advice to understand the requirements and implications in their specific location.

The Government authority you need to deal with is the department of social inclusion, youth, families and equality (Consejería de Inclusión Social, Juventud, Familias e Igualdad)

Registration: To become a pareja de hecho, a couple typically needs to register in the same residency, known as the empadronamiento with the relevant regional or municipal authorities. It also needs to be current, within 3 months. The requirements and procedures may vary depending on the specific region or municipality.

Document checklist:

It is advisable to make copies of every original copy you have. You may never know if the administration needs an extra copy. Documents are only valid for 90 days, so watch the timeline and make sure when you submit the documents that they are still relevant to this time period.

The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  1. Original birth certificates for both you and your partner with an issue date of no more than six months . These must be issued by the Civil Registry or similar body competent in accrediting civil status in the country of nationality of origin and must be legalized and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator (unless your birth certificate is originally in Spanish of course).
    For Canadians, your birth certificates can be ordered via Vital Statistics authorities in the province or territory in which you are born.
    All Canadian documents issued in Canada must be duly authenticated for use in Spain and you’ll find the instructions for authentication of Canadian documents (stamp from Global Affairs of Canada and Consulate of Spain in Toronto) in the following link to the Embassy website: . The authentication of Canadian documents for use in Spain can only be done in Canada and can be done from Spain by mail.
  2. Original certificates of Estado Civil (or marital status) for both you and your partner with an issue date of no more than six months. These must also be issued by the Civil Registry or similar body competent in accrediting civil status in the country of nationality of origin and must be legalized and translated into Spanish by a sworn translator, if applicable.In the event that your marital status is single and you do not have Spanish nationality, you must present a Certificate proving your status to be single. In case of divorce, you must present the literal marriage certificate with the corresponding marginal registration of divorce. In case of widowhood, you must present the literal certification of marriage along with the literal certification of death of the previous spouse.If you are Canadian, you will find that Canada does not provide a certificate proving you are single. Rather, you need to request a Statutory Declaration for Common Law Union letter from the consulate/embassy  of Canada.  If you are in Spain while getting the Pareja de hecho, you can easily visit the embassies in Barcelona, Madrid or Malaga to request the form **Note that this also needs to be translated along with the birth certificate by a Sworn Spanish translator. 
  3.  Original registration certificate (padron) proving that at least one of the two applicants has their habitual residence in a municipality of the region. In this case, my partner and I needed to show our padron from CCAA of Andalusia (issue date not exceeding three months).
  4. You original TIE (expired is OK!) and a photocopy
  5. Original passport and copy
  6. Your partner’s DNI (spanish ID) and a copy

Once you have all of the documents the next step would be to submit it to the ayuntamiento (city hall) where you are living. 

The registration application for Andalusia county (checking the basic option) in the Registry of Domestic is found here.

The request for registration of withdrawal may be submitted online or in person. 

For online:  You need to have a Digital Certificate and access through the following link:

For in-person: you need an in-person appointment in advance at any General Documentation Registry. Here is a list of those available in Málaga (the city where I processed my documents):!tab3 (they will offer you various registration locations so you can select the one that interests you most.)

If you are in a different city you could contact the main offices in Seville in order for them to give you an appointment:


More about my Experience with doing the pareja in Malaga

In an initial consultation where we had paid a whopping 90 euros fee with a lawyer in Malaga, we were forewarned that there would be an interview that we need to do after our documents are submitted. The lawyer had told me that they would be asking us to present photos, exchanges of written communication, any bookings we have stayed together to demonstrate proof we have been together for 1 year minimum. However, we didn’t have the experience as there was no interview requested.

This only happened because after submitting our documents, we found out that the office handling all of the administration work was 2 months behind with the paperwork because of a building renovation they had to do. Because they were behind with processing the documents, they had no choice but to approve all of the applications to speed up the process.

I am not sure if that is a blessing in disguise or not to skip this ordeal of interviews and allowing an officer to show up in our flat for a site visit, but we were thrown in the dark not knowing how long it would take for the application to be approved. The official time for the office to process the application is 1 month, but due to the circumstances described above the approval took 5 months.

There was also no direct line to call to follow up on the application. We did show up in the office in Malaga by the 3rd month asking for an update. However, the receptionist refused to let us in and wanted to dismiss us. We had to argue our way to see someone who explained to us the situation and ‘promised’ he would expedite our application and give us a call back. There was no call back at the end.

Finally by the 4th month we found out that we could call another office in Seville to ask about the application. This was when we learned that there would be no interview required. Because the office was so behind with approving the documents, they would skip the interview process and approve all the applications. They emphasized that this is not normal to do and they are skipping the interviewing because they were months behind.

Here is the pareja de hecho certificate that we finally got…

Pareja de Hecho Certificate
Pareja de Hecho Certificate

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