What is pareja de hecho?
Pareja de hecho is a civil union in Spain between a homosexual or heterosexual couple. It is a way for couples who do not wish to marry in the church to get similar benefits to their married counterparts. With this civil union, a non-EU resident can get residency for up to 5 years if he or she goes on to apply for the tarjeta comunitaria. With the tarjeta comunitaria, one has the right to work, live, have social security and medical benefits. So, pareja de hecho is the first step in a longer process if residency is the end goal.
The process of obtaining your pareja de hecho with your Spanish partner differs from city to city and region to region. I did the process in Alhaurín el Grande which is a small pueblo just outside of Málaga city. For information on your specific city’s requirements, search “pareja de hecho ayuntamiento ________” in Google and put your city in the blank. Here is Alhaurín’s pdf with what it supposedly requires. My experience on what they required ended up being a little different than what the pdf states. This should give you some general information regarding what they’ll ask for. I went in to the ayuntamiento (town hall) here in Alhaurín many times, and the lady knew me by name by the end.
Never be afraid to ask lots of questions to make sure things are 150% clear to you. Make lists of documents you need and confirm them with the person at the ayuntamiento. Make copies of EVERYTHING! The process starts at your ayuntamiento but they will eventually send the documents to a larger city – in my case Málaga – to finish with a registration in the registro civil, the civil registry. The process took about a month for us from the day we turned in all the paperwork to the day we got the official document in the mail from Málaga. Note that gathering all this paperwork will probably take you another month. Smaller cities and pueblos will be a lot faster than big cities, so be patient.
This process, as stated earlier, can be a little different depending on where you are. This information is from my experience here in Andalucía in early 2015.
Again, this will probably have discrepancies anywhere you go, but here is an idea of the documents you will need. Note that most documents are only valid for 90 days, so be sure to watch your timeline.
- Your birth certificate – translated by an official translator (traductor jurado – note this is the 2015 list), and since this document is a foreign document, you must have it legalized with an apostille. I didn’t have to do that part, but I have friends that were required to do it. I had my mom call the state where I was born to ask for a duplicate birth certificate. She had to pay 35$ if I remember correctly, and then she sent me document. Note that some official translators will take a pdf copy so you don’t need the real physical copy. Talk with your official translator. The translation cost me 30€. The lady at the ayuntamiento didn’t care about my original birth certificate – all she wanted was the officially translated copy.
- Your partner’s birth certificate – they will have to go to a registro civil to ask for a copy, or if they have a certificado digital, they can print it off after ordering it from the ministerio de justicia website. This is free.
- Your original TIE and copies.
- Your original passport and copies.
- Your partner’s original DNI and copies.
- Your estado civil and a copy. This is a document stating that you are not married to anyone else currently. As an American, you must go to a consular office or an embassy (Madrid or Barcelona) and get this document. You’ll have to make an appointment with them, pay a fee (50$ or 40€ I believe it was), and you’ll walk out with the document. Remember to bring your passport and cash. They make you swear with your right hand raised that you’re not married to anyone else and you’re done. Since the consular offices are smart, they give you the document in Spanish. No need for more translating. Thanks America!
- Your partner’s estado civil. Your partner will have to get the document as well but from the Spanish authorities. The document is called certificado de fe de vida y estado and they can get it from the registro civil. Go to this page for information how to solicit this document.
- Empadronamiento document for at least one of you. Since you should be living together to do this process, one of you needs to empadronarte in the house/flat and town where you’re living. This document is simple enough to get, and it’ll cost you about 5€ and a week of wait time. Go into your ayuntamiento and ask for the documents to empadronarte. You’ll most likely need copies of your passport, TIE, and the rent contract for where you’re living with your name on it. With that information, they’ll fill out some paperwork, have you sign that you live there, and you should be able to come back for that document in a week or so.
NOTE: Later in this process to get the tarjeta comunitaria you will BOTH need to be empadronados together in the same house – empadronamiento colectivo – so you may as well get it over with at this point in the process.
- Solicitud de inscripción. This is the application form that you will be able to get from your comunidad autónomo. You’ll need it and a copy for good measure. I was able to print mine on the website of the Junta de Andalucía. Here’s the pdf.
- Proof. This part I was never required to do, but here is the information from the pdf I’ve referenced a few times from my pueblo. “Certificado emitido por la policía local o testimonio de dos ciudadanos sobre la convivencia de la pareja de hecho con relación afectiva análoga a matrimonio, durante al menos seis meses, o en su caso, certificado de nacimiento del Registro Civil referido al hijo común, donde conste la filiación de ambos miembros de la pareja.” So, they supposedly want a certificate from the local police or testimony from two citizens that you and your partner are living in the same house/flat and have a relationship that is analogous with marriage. I’ve heard of people who had the police come to their house/flat to just do a little walk through to make sure the two were living together and in a real relationship, but they never asked us for this. One point for puebo life! They are pretty lax on some “regulations.”
You’ll need to turn all these documents in to the ayuntamiento, and you and your partner must both be present to sign documents. Supposedly, there is an “interview” after you submit your documents, but we didn’t have that experience. Instead, when we turned in all the documents, we had to walk over to the desk of another man at the ayuntamiento and he said “So you want to be pareja de hecho“, then proceeded to sign and stamp the paper, and we were done. We think that was “the interview” in our case.
Again, the timeline is going to differ on where you are. In smaller cities and pueblos, you will find they are more lenient with rules and regulations and that they go faster as they don’t have the same workload that big cities do. Here is our timeline:
- January – We stared gathering documents
- February 13 – We submitted all the documents at the ayuntamiento
- February 26 – The ayuntamiento sent the papers to Málaga to be processed
- March 6 – Málaga approved the documents
- March 10 – Málaga mailed us the official document
- March 17 – We received the document in the mail
Once you have the official document saying you are pareja de hecho in the registro civil, then you can apply for the tarjeta comunitaria. Don’t wait until you get the official document to start preparing the documents for the tarjeta comunitaria. There are quite a few things you can get done while you’re waiting for the pareja de hecho to process.
Be patient and be prepared to be flexible. Make copies of everything. And then make another copy. You can never be too prepared for bureaucracy in Spain. If you’re end goal is the tarjeta comunitaria, start looking ahead while you’re waiting for your pareja de hecho to go through. The more you have prepared when you finally get that document, the easier your life will be and the shorter you’ll have to be doing this process. Don’t stress! This all takes time, but it’s totally doable! Little by little my friends. And lastly, find other people in your area who have gone through the process. Look for groups on Facebook that address immigration issues in Spain or in your area! You’ll find that there is an entire support group for all your woes.