Guidance

Notarial and documentary services guide for Spain

Documents, certificates, letters and notes available at British consulates in Spain.

Overview

British consulates in Spain can provide a range of notarial and documentary services for British nationals. Most services are available by post. The only service you’ll need to attend an appointment in person for is the certificate of foreign marriage recognition.

Where local notaries can provide services, the British consulate will not provide them. In many cases Spanish notaries or English speaking lawyers in Spain can provide services more cheaply, quickly and conveniently.

For official translators in Spain visit the Sworn Translators-Interpreters page on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEC).

British Consulates in Spain can’t translate documents.

For further information, please see the section on services we do not provide and look at the useful links for information on living in Spain here.

Services we provide in Spain

Consular staff in Spain can issue a:

  • certificate of marital status for cohabitation registration (unión/pareja de hecho)
  • certificate of foreign marriage recognition
  • certificate of no objection for adoption for British nationals resident in Spain

For information about documents relating to marriage, such as the certificate of no impediment (CNI) and the certificate of marital status for marriage, see getting married abroad.

The approval process can take up to 30 working days from the date of receipt of your application at the Consulate. You must apply for the appropriate certificates at least 3 months before your civil registry appointment date when you hand in your documents and arrange a wedding date or, the date of your actual wedding ceremony if you are holding a ceremony first and registering the marriage at the registry afterwards.

Paperwork for British nationals who wish to get married or register a civil partnership in Andorra is processed by the British Consulate General in Barcelona. Please follow the instructions in the application pack.

For information on how to apply for a consular Marital Status Certificate for Unió de Parella registration in Andorra please contact the British Consulate General Barcelona.

You can’t get documents for marriage in the UK from British consulates in Spain.

If you can’t find the service you are looking for on this page, please see other services provided by British consulates in Spain and the Living in Spain page

What documents you need

See the individual services below for details of supporting documents you’ll need to provide. Make sure you’re able to provide an acceptable form of proof of address and identity and payment for any fees. See the full list of consular fees.

Payment

We accept payment by Visa, Visa Electron, or MasterCard.

For the certificate of foreign marriage recognition, you’ll be expected to pay in cash in euros or by credit card on the day of your appointment.

Proof of address and identity

For all notarial services you’ll need to provide acceptable proof of your identity and address.

We accept passports or national identity cards as proof of identity.

We accept your town hall registration certificate (certificado de empadronamiento or padrón), or your Spanish residence certificate (certificado de registro de ciudadano de la unión) as proof of address.

If you don’t have either of these, you’ll need to provide proof of your current and/or previous address(es) by submitting recent and original copies of one of the following:

  • utility bills (not printed off the internet)
  • bank/building society/credit card statement (not printed off the internet)
  • building society/savings bank passbook
  • electoral role confirmation letter
  • mortgage statement
  • council tax demand
  • credit reference agency search
  • evidence of entitlement to state or local authority-funded benefit, tax credit, pension, educational or other grant

Certificate of Marital Status for Cohabitation Registration (Pareja/Unión de Hecho)/other reason in Spain

The consular Certificate of Marital Status is sometimes required to register a cohabitation arrangement (Pareja/Unión de hecho) with the regional Spanish authorities. Please note that this is not equivalent to a Civil Partnership registered in the United Kingdom.

The requirements may differ according to the region (Comunidad Autónoma) in which you wish to register with your partner. Therefore please read the following information carefully.

Regions in Spain which we do not provide a consular Certificate of Marital Status for Pareja/Unión de Hecho Registration

The following regions in Spain DO NOT require or accept a consular certificate of marital status:

  • Andalucia
  • the Balearic Islands
  • Comunidad de Madrid
  • Comunidad Valenciana
  • the Canary Islands

If you apply for a consular certificate to register a Pareja/Union de hecho in any of these regions, we will be obliged to send the documents back to you by registered post for which we will charge you 5 euros.

If you wish to register a Pareja/Unión de Hecho in one of the above regions, you need to make enquiries about the documents needed with the office where you wish to carry out the registration. We regret we are unable to provide this information as cohabitation registration is not a British consular service and therefore we are not able to answer enquiries.

We do however understand you could be asked to submit one or more of the following documents depending on your circumstances but it is essential that you confirm this with the relevant authorities in Andalucía, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Comunidad Valenciana or Comunidad de Madrid. None of these documents are provided by British Consulates in Spain. You will therefore need to contact the relevant issuing authority yourself in order to obtain them:

  • if you are single, a No Trace Letter from the Certificates Section of the General Register Office in either England and Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, translated and legalised. Please note although some of the regions mentioned above may request a “marital status certificate” they are actually referring to this “No Trace Letter” which more closely matches the format of their regional equivalent document. You will need to order this by telephone and inform the General Register Office that you require the No Trace Letter for use in Spain.
  • if you are divorced, your decree absolute (sentencia firme), translated and legalised
  • if you are widowed, your marriage certificate and the death certificate of your late spouse or partner obtainable from the General Register Office in either England and Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, translated and legalised
  • your long form birth certificate (the copy which shows your parents’ details) from the General Register Office in either England and Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, translated and legalised
  • a sworn declaration confirming your current marital status (single, divorced, dissolved Civil Partnership or widowed), drawn up by a Notary Public in Spain (only necessary in Andalucía)

If you were born, married, divorced or widowed outside of the United Kingdom, you will need to contact the relevant authority in the country in which this took place to request the relevant documentation and find out about the legalization process. British Consulates in Spain do not legalize or translate documents.

We are usually able to provide a Consular Marital Status Certificate in the following circumstances

  • for Pareja/Unión de Hecho registration in regions (Comunidades Autónomas) not mentioned in the list above
  • late birth registration of a child born in Spain at a Spanish Civil Registry/other reason (not marriage) for any region in Spain

If you wish to register a Pareja/Unión de Hecho in any other region in Spain not listed above, or you require this certificate for any other reason (not for marriage), you can download and complete the Marital Status for Pareja de Hecho or Other Reason (PDF, 489KB, 5 pages), and send the documents to the address in the application pack.

There is a checklist of supporting documents you need in the application pack. You will need to get any documents that are not in English or Spanish translated into Spanish.

You must sign the affirmation in the application pack in front of a local notary public in Spain and post this to us by registered post along with the other documents.

You need to submit your application at least 3 months before the date you want to register your cohabitation arrangement. The approval process can take up to 30 working days from the date of receipt of your application at the Consulate. It takes 10 working days after payment has been made for applications to be processed excluding delivery times. The consulate will send your certificate and original documents to you by courier.

If your partner is a non-EU national, he or she may need to submit a second copy of your marital status certificate to the Spanish Foreigners Office (Extranjería) to apply for a Spanish residence card. Check if you need a second copy with the Foreigners Office before sending your application and let us know if you need two certificates.

You’ll need to pay fee 2(ii) to obtain the certificate of marital status for cohabitation registration. If you need two certificates you will be charged fee 2(ii) for each certificate. If both you and your partner are British, you will need to make two separate applications.

Certificate of Foreign Marriage Recognition

If your marriage took place in a country other than Spain or the UK and your spouse is a non EU national, you may need to apply for the certificate of foreign marriage recognition.

It is not possible to register a marriage celebrated in a foreign country in the General Register Office or with any other government authority in the United Kingdom or in a British consulate/embassy abroad. Neither is it possible for a UK government authority to state whether a foreign marriage is valid, legal and subsisting. As a result British consulates issue this certificate, which usually covers this requirement.

Your spouse will need this certificate to get a Spanish residence card from the Spanish Foreigners’ Office (Extranjería). After making an application by email to Notarial Services Madrid, both you and your spouse will need to attend an appointment at your nearest British Consulate in Spain to get the certificate, when you will both need to make separate declarations. Please note that this certificate is not issued in support of Spanish visa applications and both of you must be in Spain when you apply.

If neither of you speak English or Spanish, you should take a sworn interpreter with you.

Download and complete the Foreign Marriage Recognition Pack (PDF, 545KB, 4 pages) .

There’s a checklist of supporting documents that you will need on the form.You’ll need to get any documents that are not in English or Spanish translated into Spanish.

Translation

Translations in Spanish are usually accepted by the Spanish Foreigners’ Office if they’re by one of the following:

  • a sworn translator - see the list of translators and interpreters
  • the consulate or embassy in Spain of the country where the marriage took place
  • a translator in the country where the marriage took place as long as the translation has been certified by the consulate/embassy in Spain of that country

British Consulates in Spain cannot translate documents.

Legalisation

The Spanish Foreigners’ Office (Extranjería) will usually require your marriage certificate to have been both issued and legalised in the last 3 months. You need to check with your local Spanish Foreigners’ Office as to whether a certificate older than 3 months, but legalised in the last 3 months, would be acceptable. You must do this before applying for your consular certificate.

If the country where you married is part of the Hague Convention, the legalisation office in that country will place a stamp or vignette called “The Hague Apostille” (Apostilla de la Haya) on the back of the document.

Check the list of countries that are part of the Hague Convention

If not, you’ll need to do both of the following:

  • contact the authority where your marriage was registered and get a stamp or signature to validate your marriage certificate
  • take your marriage certificate to the Spanish embassy in the country you got married in so they can recognise the stamp/signature of the issuing authority

Book an appointment for the Certificate of Foreign Marriage Recognition

Send your completed application form and your supporting documents (max 4MB) by email or fax using the following contact details:

Email: notarialservicesmadrid@fco.gov.uk

Fax: 91 7146403

The consulate will contact you if they have any queries about your documents. We will contact you within 20 working days of reading your email either to confirm that you have provided the correct documentation or to request further supporting documents.

Once your application has been approved, you will be contacted to make an appointment at your nearest consulate in Spain.

Marriage between a British national and a non-EU national

Request for recognition/registration/validation of a foreign marriage in the UK for Spanish visa application purposes. Please note that British consulates are not able to correspond or reply to enquiries on this matter. For further information please seek the advice of a lawyer.

British embassies no longer provide standard wording to comment on the validity of a foreign marriage under UK law nor confirm that a foreign marriage cannot be registered in the UK or at a British Embassy or Consulate for the purpose of a visa application to Spain by a non-EU spouse of a British person.

This was agreed at a meeting between consular staff at the British Embassy in Madrid and the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación on 8 February 2016. At this meeting the Ministry confirmed that Spanish embassies would consider each visa application on its own merits and would do so without recourse to comment from the UK authorities. The British Embassy Madrid wrote formally by Note Verbale to the Ministry on 22 March 2016 which was duly acknowledged by the Ministry on 6 April 2016.

Las Embajadas británicas ya no expiden la nota informativa que comenta sobre la validez, según la ley en el Reino Unido, de un matrimonio celebrado en un país extranjero o la confirmación de que no se pueden registrar dichos matrimonios en el Reino Unido, en un Consulado o una Embajada británica a efectos de una solicitud de visado para España por el cónyuge no comunitario de una persona de nacionalidad británica.

Esto fue acordado en una reunión entre oficiales consulares de la Embajada británica en Madrid y el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación el 8 de febrero de 2016. En esta reunión el Ministerio confirmó que las Embajadas españolas examinarían cada solicitud de visado según las circunstancias y factores propios e individuales de la solicitud sin recurrir a los comentarios de las autoridades británicas.

El 22 de marzo de 2016 la Embajada Británica en Madrid confirmó por Nota Verbal la retirada de dicha Nota Informativa y recibió acuse de recibo con fecha 6 de abril de 2016 del Ministerio.

Notarial Services Madrid June 2016

If both you and your non-EU spouse are already in Spain and your non-EU spouse wishes to apply for a Spanish residence card, please see our information above on how to apply for a Certificate of Foreign Marriage Recognition. This certificate is not applicable to Spanish visa applications.

Certificate of No Objection for Adoption by British Nationals resident in Spain

British nationals resident in Spain who wish to adopt a child from a country other than the UK may be required by the Spanish adoption authorities to obtain a certificate of no objection from the British consulate.

You must first obtain independent legal advice as to whether Spain is your habitual place of residence and then swear a statement witnessed by a lawyer or a notary in which you confirm your country of residence.

Depending on the country where the adoption takes place and the legislation of the country under which the child is being adopted, some adoptions are automatically recognised in the UK. For further information and before applying for a certificate please read the following information:

Information on Designated Countries

Adoption: statutory guidance 2013

Register as a British citizen: Children born out of the UK

UK Visas and Immigration

Child Adoption

Making your application

At the time of making your application for a certificate from the consulate you will need to confirm whether the adoption is being processed under Spanish law or under the law of the country that the child is being adopted from.

Download and complete an Adoption Pack. There’s a checklist of supporting documents that you’ll need on the form. You will need to obtain a translation into Spanish of any documents that are not in English or Spanish.

Please send your application pack with your supporting documents by registered post to British Consulate-General Madrid, Consular Services, Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046 Madrid.

Once your application has been approved, you will receive a certificate of no objection by courier service.

You need to pay Fee 2ii for each certificate plus 13.50 euros courier fees.

If you and your partner are both British, the consulate is willing to issue one certificate which includes both sets of details. You need to confirm beforehand with the Spanish adoption authorities whether individual certificates will be needed or if one certificate for both of you will be sufficient. In any case, you have to submit separate application forms and copies of your documents.

Services we do not provide

Translations

For official translators in Spain visit the Sworn Translators-Interpreters page on the website of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEC). British Consulates in Spain can’t translate documents.

UK criminal records check/good conduct certificates

The consulate is not able to provide criminal records checks and good conduct certificates. Please visit Disclosure and Barring Service checks (DBS) for more information which can be found here and information on how to apply for a DBS check irrespective of whether you live or have lived in the United Kingdom which can be found here.

Life certificates

The consulate no longer provides life certificates for British nationals claiming a British pension abroad. Please refer to the list of professionals who can witness a life certificate.

Legalise a document

This service is for customers who require confirmation that the signature, seal or stamp on a document is genuine. It does not certify the authenticity or a document or give approval of its content. UK public documents can be legalised by the Legalisation Office.

Convert a civil partnership to marriage

You can’t convert a civil partnership into marriage in Spain. You need to contact a UK registrar and make an appointment to convert your civil partnership into marriage.

Explanation of the Marriage Banns

From 1 April 2015, British Consulates in Spain no longer issue the “Informative Note: Explanation of the Marriage Banns”. If your local civil registry still asks for information on the marriage banns, print out the Nota Verbal re Marriage Banns (PDF, 84.5KB, 3 pages) .

Certificate of Consular Registration

From May 2013, British Consulates in Spain no longer issue the Certificate of Consular Registration. If your local civil registry still asks for this, print out the Nota Verbal Nota Verbal re Consular Registration (PDF, 155KB, 1 page)

Transfer of address

British Consulates in Spain no longer issue the Consular Letter: Transfer of address for importation of vehicles/household goods/change of registration plates (also known as the Baja Consular).

You can provide the following documents in place of the Baja Consular:

  • work contract or proof of self-employment
  • a residence permit or work permit for the country you have been residing in - if you’re coming from outside the UK

If you don’t have either of these, contact the Spanish state tax administration agency (Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria/AEAT).

If the tax authorities insist on a letter from the consulate, you can print out the Communication Baja Consular and show it to them.

Change of name and/or surname

British Consulates in Spain no longer issue the “Informative Note: Change of name and/or surname in the UK”. If you are having problems changing your name in Spain, you can print out the Nota Verbal re Name Change (PDF, 139KB, 3 pages) and show it to the authorities.

Proof of address for marriage

British Consulates in Spain no longer issue the “Consular Letter: Proof of Address for Marriage” (Confirmación de domicilio para casarse en España). Use one of the following documents instead:

  • a letter confirming your address, e.g. electoral roll
  • bank or building society statement, credit card statement
  • mortgage statement
  • council tax letter
  • utility bills
  • recent proof of entitlement to local or state benefits, eg tax credits, pension, education or other benefits

If you’re still asked to provide documentation from the British consulate, you can print out the Communication Proof of Address and show it to the authorities.

Change of British passport number

British Consulates in Spain no longer issue the “Consular Certificate: Change of British passport number on renewal”. You can use instead the Informative Note: Change of British passport number

Alternatively, you can submit a Freedom of Information Request to HM Passport Office, asking for confirmation that you were the holder of your previous passport(s). You’ll need to visit HM Passport Office for further information.

Witnessing signatures or administering declarations

The services below may be provided by Spanish notaries or English speaking lawyers in Spain:

  • witnessing signatures on probate documents
  • witnessing signatures or administering declarations on powers of attorney
  • witnessing signatures or administering declarations on wills
  • witnessing signatures or administering declarations on company documents
  • witnessing signatures or administering declarations on name change deed polls and similar documents
  • certificates or statements of law in the UK
  • certified photocopies of British passports, Home Office registration/naturalisation certificates, UK educational documents (including those issued in the UK by a recognised institution and listed in the Legalisation Office website), British driving licences, British divorce decrees, and foreign documents including passports, educational documents and ID documents
  • certifying your identity for British banks, building societies and other institutions

Perjury Act (1911)

Under the Perjury Act (1911) it is a criminal offence to knowingly make a false declaration. Offenders face the possibility of a fine and/or a jail sentence.

Data Protection

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office holds and uses data for purposes notified to the Information Commissioner under the Data Protection Act 1998. Such personal data may be disclosed to other UK government departments and public authorities.

Disclaimer

This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the consulate by the relevant authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. Accordingly the FCO and the British consulate will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. For all Notarial and legalisation services it is the responsibility of the customer to ascertain the precise requirements of the person requesting the Notarial or legalisation service and to satisfy themselves that the service provided by the consulate will be accepted.

Published 2 April 2013
Last updated 13 August 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on Andorra
  2. Added new application pack for Andorra
  3. Updated information in overview section, July 2018
  4. June 2018
  5. June 2018
  6. Updated April 2018
  7. Updated January 2018
  8. document updated
  9. document updated
  10. Guidance updated July 2017
  11. Adoption changes July 2014
  12. Changes made to 'residency' and 'notice of marriage' rules before a CNI can be issued.
  13. Example certificates for CNI and Marital Status certificates added.
  14. Application process time changed from four to five working days.
  15. Updates to the list of services we provide to remove 'Proof of address for marriage'
  16. Change to service of recognition of marriage celebrated in Spain.
  17. New appointment request form added for marriage celebrated outside Spain
  18. Additional information added on documents required for Pareja de Hecho in Andalucía and the Balearics.
  19. Changes made to the Baja Consular certificate service for Spanish authorities.
  20. Informative Note: Change of name has been removed
  21. updated appointment request form for marital status.
  22. Updated appointment request forms
  23. Added Informative Note on change of passport number
  24. Removed details of certificate confirming change of British passport number on renewal as the service is no longer provided
  25. Link added to the news article on changes to birth and death registration service.
  26. 'signing of probate documents' service removed
  27. Added details on the process of birth registration
  28. Updated text and added 'recognition of marriage celebrated in Spain' as a notarial service
  29. Removed details of services no longer offered.
  30. Appointment request form updated
  31. Phone number removed for notarial enquiries
  32. Updated appointment request form for recognition of foreign marriage certificate
  33. updated the Registration at the Consulate section with effect from 14th May 2013
  34. added to notarial services document series
  35. Updated with CNI and Marital Status (Marriage) certificates.
  36. First published.