Pareja de hecho: making residency easier one couple at a time

For many non-EU foreigners, living in Spain legally is debacle numero uno. No easy solution exists, whether it’s finding a company to sponsor you, or a significant other willing to fully commit to ma-ma-ma-marriage. Locating a street in Madrid without obras would be easier.


But recently, something very unexpected changed. As rare as the Spanish waiter that happily and eagerly takes your dinner order, a process here just got easier and tremendously more helpful. I’ll let you digest that for a moment, because I know it’s hard to believe.


Have you recovered? OK, good. Back to business.


The process I’m referring to is that of pareja de hecho. Roughly translated as domestic partnership, acquiring the status originally just meant you got a piece of paper saying “these folks are officially an item” (not terribly unlike that note you wrote your classmate in junior high school). Now, becoming pareja de hecho can actually grant foreigners residency. Crazy, right? And it’s not too good to be true!


Here’s a brief rundown of the requirements and steps:


  • Civil status certificate stating you’re single (must be validated for non-EU foreigners)
  • Empadronado(a) with your Spanish significant other for at least one year
  • Two witnesses
  • Three photos (for Comisaría when applying for card)
  • Copy of entire passport


  • Empadronamiento with significant other at the Ayuntamiento
  • Obtain civil status certificate (foreigners go to their embassy/small fee required)
  • Non-EU residents must validate civil status certificate at the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores
  • Become pareja de hecho at the Registro de Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid
  • Pick up certificado de pareja de hecho at the Registro de CAM
  • Apply for residency card at the Comisaría
  • Pick up card at the Comisaría (small fee required)


As with most things in Spain, there’s a good chance that funcionario 1 will say something entirely different than funcionario 2, so expect rules and processes to vary.

Now that pigs are flying, maybe the obras will stop and more waiters will become friendly. One can dream.


Some Perks of Working in Spain

For me, adjusting to corporate life in Spain was not the easiest thing in the world.  The concept of a two hour lunch, strolling in at 10.00 and taking various leisurely coffee and/or smoke breaks was completely foreign to me after having been “raised” in the trenches of Corporate America in New York, where eating a sandwich at my cube with one hand while typing a memo with the other were par for the course.   Now that I have been here for some time, however, I have been able to observe, and even take advantage of, the many benefits that having a permanent contract in Spain have to offer.  A few of the highlights include:

  • -When you get married, you get an extra 15 days of time off.  Fresh off my honeymoon, I can say this one has been the most significant perk for me. Counting down from the day of your wedding, you have 15 days (on top of your vacation time afforded by your Company) to enjoy and take time off. Since it is 15 días naturales, weekends are included in the count, but it is a wonderful treat nonetheless.
  • -If you are moving house, you also get a bonus day off.  I could have used this in NY, where I moved 4 times in 6 years!
  • -Employees are entitled to at least 30 natural days, or 22 business days, of paid time off per year.  That is pretty incredible, especially considering it is a minimum.
  • -Minimum permitted maternity leave is 16 uninterrupted weeks for the mother, and 13 natural days for the father.  On top of this, mothers are also permitted to take time off for breastfeeding. This can be taken in various ways, including 1 hour per day until the baby is 9 months, 2 half hour increments per day until the baby is 9 months, or two extra weeks of maternity leave tacked onto the end of the 16 weeks. Where I work, taking the extra two weeks seems to be the common choice, at least from a practical standpoint.
  •  –Parents have the right to take a jornada reducida, or shortened work day (with a proportional decrease in salary) to take care of their children. This right exists until the youngest child is 8 years old.  It is pretty common where I work for women to start working this shorter day once they have a baby.

Working in Spain is certainly not easy, but knowing there are benefits like these certainly helps to ease the pain.