How To Apply For Pareja de Hecho in Spain

To quote Will Ferrell, “before you marry a person you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are”. Well, I think the same goes for doing the pareja de hecho application in Spain. It’s a long process, involves a great deal of paperwork and in a nutshell, a real test of patience. After actually pulling it off, I can now say I’ve found someone who will stand by me even after having lost my shit on many occasions.

When we decided to go through this ordeal, we didn’t know we’re going to get stuck in a recurring paperwork nightmare. However, in retrospect, it was all worth the hassle. In a month *fingers crossed*, I’m going to get my tarjeta de comunitaria – a residence card that will allow me to work and live here in Spain for at least five years. More than any benefit that come with it, the most important of all is I get to be with the boyfriend without worrying about getting kicked out of the country.

Pareja de Hecho is a civil union or a common-law partnership between a couple, both heterosexual and homosexual, who choose to live together and have a more secure and stable status without getting married. It’s worth noting that the registration process varies from region to region. In general, any couple who are of legal age, not legally incapacitated, not related to each other and have not been previously married can register. Normally, a proof of cohabitation is required in the form of an empadronamiento colectivo.

pareja de hecho spain


We were living together in a pueblo in Málaga when we decided to register as pareja de hecho. The first step we had to do was gather all the documents required. That involved asking my mother to do the paperwork for me from the Philippines and going through one legalization after another. It can be a daunting task so I’ll try to break down the long and difficult process of getting your certificate of pareja de hecho and your tarjeta de comunitaria (in another post).

Documents to Submit
  1. Photocopy of IDs of the applicants (DNI, Passport or TIE)
  2. Recent certificado de empadronamiento 
  3. Birth certificate of both applicants
  1. Certification of civil status
  • Spanish applicants – They can ask for this in their registro civil as well
  • Non-EU applicants – Since it’s also foreign document, it must go through translation and the corresponding legalization steps. For Filipino applicants, the NSO CENOMAR certificate must be authenticated by DFA too, translated and legalized

Once you have all your documents, find out where you have to turn them in. You might need to ask for an appointment beforehand but in small pueblos, that might not be the case. Both you and your partner have to be present because you would need to sign some declarations and fill an application form. You may be scheduled for an interview and a surprise house visit by your local police, I guess that depends on the assigned person who will process your application. We were called for an interview after a month – a thorough Newlywed game-like one at that haha. This is to make sure that it isn’t another civil union fraud. After that, the ball’s in their court. All you can do is wait. It could take up to three months counting from the day you completed all their requirements.

pareja de hecho spain andalucía


Just to give you an idea, here’s the timeline of our pareja de hecho application. Take into account that it varies from place to place. Some work faster, some take their time.

  • February – We started putting together our documents, mostly from my side since they had to go through a chain of translation and legalization process
  • April 8 – We submitted our documents and signed the declarations in the city hall.
  • May 20 – We had our interview.
  • August 16 – We received the certificate of pareja de hecho.

Before you take your relationship to the next level, know the mess you’re getting into. It won’t just all magically fall into place, you would have to put an extra effort to get all of these done. But the good news is you’re not alone in this thing. You and your partner have each others’ back even if one of you is always freaking out i.e. ME. Remember this is just the first step into settling down with a Spanish partner. You would still need to apply for your tarjeta comunitaria, your social security number and your public health insurance. Don’t sweat it though, there’s nothing this song can’t help you get through….


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  • Reply
    May 26, 2017 at 11:23 am

    Hi Joanne,

    Thanks for sharing your experience in getting the pareja de hecho.

    My boyfriend and I are planning to undergo the same process however, I am located in the Philippines. I am wondering if it is possible for us to get the civil union.

    We’ve been together for 2 years and we normally visit each other atleast 4 times a year (him going here in Asia and me going to spain). It has been an expensive set up as tickets are not that cheap so we have decided to put our relatioship to the next level without getting married.

    Are we qualified to get the pareja de hecho.

    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.


    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      May 26, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      Hi Joana! Are you planning to move here in Spain?

      • Reply
        Joana Narciso
        September 8, 2017 at 7:57 pm

        Hi Joanne,

        I am currently in Northern Spain now and my boyfriend and I applied for padron last year. We consulted a lawyer about the process. However, I find it too expensive to pay the lawyer’s fee considering that we are the one who will do the leg work.

        May I ask you did the process by yourselves? Also, My documents hasn’t been translated into spanish with no stamp from the DFA, is it possible to do it in our embassy here?

        • Reply
          Joanne Skywalker
          September 8, 2017 at 8:29 pm

          Hi Joana,

          We planned on doing everything on our own. We didn’t seek the help of a lawyer until the last part (the legalization of the documents). We were living in Málaga but it had to be done in Madrid. We figured it would be cheaper to hire a lawyer to get the legalization sticker (100 euros) than to go there ourselves. If you can go to Madrid personally, there’s really no need for a lawyer.

          I’m not 100% sure but as far as I know, you can only do the DFA authentication in the Philippines.

  • Reply
    June 6, 2017 at 5:39 am

    Hi Joanne! Me and my bf (EU national) have been together for 2yrs and are both living in Barcelona. I’m on student visa but my NIE will expire on July. We are thinking of doing the pareja de hecho as it is easier for us to live together if I have the proper documents. My question is as my NIE will be expiring on July, do you think it’s possible to travel while the pareja de hecho is under process? or should i have an approved PdH first before I can leave Spain? We are thinking of going to the Philippines on Aug/Sep. Your advice will be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      June 17, 2017 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Chichi! Keep in mind that it takes time before you get the PDH certificate. In my case, I had to wait more than 4 months after I submitted all the requirements. Also, if you’re going back to the Philippines, you should either renew your NIE or get a new visa because a PDH certificate is not a residence card. It’s just one requirement to getting one. I hope I explained myself clearly 🙂

  • Reply
    August 4, 2017 at 4:00 am

    Hi Joanne, Did you have to live together a certain amount of time BEFORE you could even apply? I am moving to Sevilla to live with my novio this month, and I’d like to apply for this ASAP so I won’t have to return to the USA next year just to renew my Visa. I am starting the Auxiliary for Ingles program too!

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      August 15, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Jemma, I think in Andalucía there’s no minimum # of months/years of cohabitation before applying. We had been living for about 6 months when we applied.

  • Reply
    August 23, 2017 at 2:17 am

    Hi Joanne,
    I was wondering if you know what happens after 5 years of living with the tarjeta comunitaria. Do you have to redo the process to get a new one, extend the existing one, or apply for some kind of permanent residency in Spain?

    Thanks a lot, your blog is very helpful!


  • Reply
    October 1, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Hi Joanne,

    I find your post very helpful and encouraging. I am Filipino and just finished studying masters in The Netherlands. I recently moved to Barcelona to live with my boyfriend using my Netherlands student visa to stay but will expire in 3 months so I really need to get my residency in spain going. I am trying to follow the typical process- padron, resident visa, NIE/TIE and hope to find a job. However, this seems to be a very challenging task based from advise of consulate and also from stories of Filipinos living here. But of course that has been my option A.

    Then there’s the pareja de hecho. didn’t hear about it until recently. Altho my boyfriend agreed, i am still thinking of going through the first option but having to weigh the advantages and disadvatages. Are there chances the application for pareja de hecho be denied? In such case I wanted to still take a shot at the other option where possible. Thanks!

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      November 10, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Jec,

      So sorry for the late reply. Three months into my stay in Spain, I tried to go through your first option as well. I found an academy job that I liked but then it didn’t push through because it was too much hassle for them to process me a work permit. So we thought of the pareja de hecho route.

      I think if you’re really a couple and living together, there’s a slim chance for your PDH to be denied.

      Anyway, good luck to you and your partner!

      • Reply
        November 27, 2017 at 8:08 am

        Hi Joanne,

        No worries 🙂 thanks for replying anyway. That’s good news for me because right now I think the pareja de Hecho is the only route for me unless I enroll as a student, which I can’t afford at this point, time and financial-wise. To be honest, I feel a bit disappointed about the fact that policies and processes are not so friendly for non-EU citizens. Apparently, from a couple of Filipinos I got the chance to meet, they only had the arraigo social as an option. It took me a while to accept that reality upfront but yeah it should be a whole different topic.

        Anyway, I have an Empadronamiento which proves we are living together however I only secured it 3 months ago (since I moved for good from NL) even I have been coming to Barcelona back and forth for more than a year. Do you think that’s a factor? that we haven’t been really living together long enough? Right now I am waiting for my papers to arrive from Ph. Most likely we will start with the application in a few weeks.

        Thanks a lot 🙂

        • Reply
          December 3, 2017 at 7:02 am

          It could depend on your comunidad. I’ve heard that in some comunidades, there’s a minimum # of months/years of cohabitation before you can apply. That’s not the case in Andalucía. Check with your ayuntamiento or the office in charge of the pareja de hecho applications in your comunidad.

          • Jec Alforque
            December 5, 2017 at 11:21 pm

            Thanks 🙂 I checked and they said minimum of two years co-habitation for the PDH eligibility. That’s in Catalunya. Otherwise, you can have children together. In our case, we have the notaryo in lieu of the two requirements. Thanks a lot and if you happen to pass by Barcelona you can let me know, I put my email details 🙂

          • Jeancyn Alforque
            December 8, 2017 at 7:03 am

            Sorry, one more question. Would you know when or if I even need to get a private insurance for the tarjeta de comunitaria application? I guess when I do get the card, I can apply for social security and perhaps the public health and sanitary as well. Not sure tho. although the downside is i’ll be uninsured for a long while. If it’s not a requirement (and as long as I dont get sick) I guess that’s fine?

            Thanks as usual!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm


    Hello joanne.

    I have question for you would i lose the residencia if i broke up with my civit partner?

  • Reply
    November 9, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    This is so helpful, thank you! My bf is from Madrid and we have been living here since March. My visa expires in Feb and we will have one year in March. Is it possible to do Pareja de Hecho this year? I don’t know if I could leave and come back on a tourist visa or what. Off to a good start. Haha. Thank you!

    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      November 10, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Hi Erin,

      I don’t know in Madrid, but in Andalucía there’s no minimum # months/years of cohabitation before you can apply for pareja de hecho.

      • Reply
        November 11, 2017 at 7:05 pm

        thank you! And by the way I love your website! It’s beautiful and I am inspired to improve my own. Thanks! Take care

  • Reply
    November 30, 2017 at 1:17 am

    Hey Joanne, Thank you so much for this blog – you seem to be the only person giving useful info, not vague answers and half-truths, bravo to you! 😉

    If you can help me with this little question I’ll happily fly you a glass of wine or a hug, whatever’s your preference: Me and my lovely lady are about to get our PdH (hopefully) as the interview is next week and the lady already said we had all the right documents. My question is when we get the certificate do we *need* the resident card? We only really are after the PdH as it gives Sam freedom to roam the EU with me (much easier than in other countries and we don’t want the legally binding marriage of other places). We have lived in Spain for a year but want to travel asap!

    I think my main question is what do you eventually show in your passport when you as a non-EU citizen arrives in Spain/UK/France/etc to show you are allowed to move between EU countries? Thank you MASSIVELY in anticipation of your valued insight. Ant

    • Reply
      December 3, 2017 at 6:50 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Antony! The PdH doesn’t have any value outside Spain or outside your comunidad. As I understand it, your girl needs the residence card to be able to roam the EU without any visa hassle. As a non-EU citizen arriving in a EU member state, you have to show your passport. If she’s from the US or any other country that is allowed 30 days of visit in a European country without visa, there’s no need to show anything else. Otherwise, she needs to show the immigration a residence card/ TIE or a visa. I hope I was able to answer your question and good luck to your interview!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2018 at 2:32 am

    I have a question plz i have been as civil partner for one year and half and now we broke up.will the comunidad stop my residence i mean is it possible to travel to spain in my resident or the comunidad will cancel it?

  • Reply
    February 12, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Hey there!

    I’m so thrilled to find this forum online. My fiancé and I are currently processing the PdH in Castellón, near Valencia. We were told today that the PdH would take about 3-4 weeks to process here before it was sent to Valencia to be processed at the capital. We were told the process in Valencia usually takes 3-4 months! After that, I will be able to apply for my NIE.

    Here is the concern and question: As an American citizen, I have 90 days before I must leave the EU. Therefore, am I safe to stay in the EU once the PdH has been submitted in Castellón? Or would I need to leave the EU until we get this paperwork back from Valencia in 3-4 months? This gray area is really stressful!

    Did you stay in Spain while all of your aperwork was processing? And if so, did you have a card or paper that stated your paperwork was being process? I’m just concerned about over-staying and having problems.

    Thanks for your help!


    • Reply
      Joanne Skywalker
      February 13, 2018 at 8:18 pm

      Hi Alicia, it’s true, this grey area is really tricky. We received our Pareja de Hecho certificate in August but my TIE expired in May. It was already expired when we applied for the residence card but I was still within the 90-day after expiry date rule. So I guess you’re safe to stay in Spain but without a valid card, I don’t think you can travel to other EU countries. And yes, they give you a ‘resguardo’ to prove that your paperwork is in process.

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