Same-sex couples in Spain and the Canary Islands have the same marriage, legal, adoption and inheritance rights as couples in traditional union.
Same-sex marriages were made legal in Spain in June 2005 - a civil marriage in Spain allows homosexual couples the same legal and adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples.
Who May Get Married in Spain
Initially, it was declared that Spanish citizens may only marry a partner from a country where gay marriage has been legalised. However that was amended and the current ruling is:
1. A Spanish citizen may marry a non-Spaniard regardless of whether that person's homeland recognises the partnership; same-sex marriage is permitted provided one of the couple is a Spanish citizen
2. Or, two non-Spaniards may marry if they both have legal residence in Spain
With regards to gay marriage, Spanish law now states that: "Marriage will have the same requirements and results when the two people entering into the contract are of the same sex or of different sexes."
Note: A legal gay marriage in Spain may not be recognised in a country that does not accept gay marriage.
How to Get Married in Spain
As with a traditional union, one of the same-sex partners must be a Spanish resident, having been legally resident in Spain for at least two years and registered with the municipality.
Application for a marriage licence can be made at the Civil Registry (Registro Civil), District Court (Juzgado) or, in some cases, the Town Hall in the place where the marriage is to be held.
It is essential to consult the local authority (Civil Registry, District Court or Town Hall) with jurisdiction over where the marriage is to be held to find out precisely what documentation will be required. It varies greatly with some provinces being stricter than others regarding the laws of residency.
The following documents are required (additional documents may be required):
• Current valid passport (for non-Spanish applicants)
• Original birth certificates, with sworn Spanish translation if that is not the original language (traduccion jurada)
• Proof of being free to marry (Certificado de Capacidad Matrimonial). Provide marriage and divorce, annulment or death certificates of any prior marriage, a Consular office may be able to help with this)
• Proof of Spanish residency (residence card)
• Certificate of residence (Certificado de Empadronamiento), proving residence in Spain of at least two years (available from the Town Hall)
Note: All foreign documents that are not is Spanish should be translated by an official translator who marks them with an official seal. Translated documentation should ideally not be more than three months old.
A civil marriage is held in the courts, or the Town Hall of residence of one of the couple. It is conducted by the Mayor or a delegated Councillor.
The marriage is effective immediately following the ceremony. After the wedding, it is registered in the Civil Registry and a certificate (Inscripción de Matrimonio) stating the date, time and place of the marriage is issued.
Adoption and Natural Birth
Same sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples to adoption and to assisted reproduction: children born within a lesbian marriage by in vitro fertilisation treatment may be legally recognised by the non-biological mother.
Civil Unions/Partnerships in Spain
In addition to marriage for gay couples, most of Spain's autonomous communities recognise and provide for civil unions and registered cohabitation between same-sex people. This allows for kinship, inheritance, and property rights.
Over the years, a number of "Marriage Companies" have come and gone, all offering "marriage services" to visitors. In some cases, vicars, priests and ministers officiate, but these are rarely from recognised denominations and they cannot offer a legal marriage as the law currently stands.
Please be aware that many such services currently offer "Blessings", which are not legal marriages.