Pareja de Hecho: A Solution to Long Distance Relationships Between Spain and the USA

If you’re dating someone from Spain and you want to figure out a way to live together because you’re from different countries, you’ve arrived at the right place. Welcome to The Rocky Safari’s Free Guide on Pareja de Hecho in Spain.

Nothing would make me happier than for someone out in the world to do a search on the internet looking for legal solutions to long-distance relationships between Spain and the USA and for them to find this Free Guide on Pareja de Hecho in Spain.

It is my wish that should someone out in the world find themselves in a similar situation to the one I’ve shared with my significant other from Spain, I pray they may have a better chance at saving their long-distance relationship than I did by having the information I lacked. Had I known this information sooner, maybe… just maybe… things might be different today. Who knows.

Our Story: An International Relationship

The information I am going to share with you may never be of any use to me and I know that. It hurts a lot to think about it like that, but the importance of spreading what I learned about this topic transcends my feelings so I’m going to write it anyway.

If you’re in a long-distance relationship with someone in Spain, this is important.

This is a temporary but viable solution that has the potential to change your relationship’s dynamics forever.  The long-distance relationship I was in came to an end many months ago mainly due to uncertainty over how and when we might ever be able to see each other again.

You see, I am a U.S. citizen and he was from Spain.

We met through our university’s foreign exchange program and had a lovely relationship that lasted for two incredible years. Two of the best years of my life. In the first year, we basically lived together in the USA since he came here to study. In the second year, we tried doing the long-distance thing and we saw each other maybe 3 out of the 12 months in the year: one month in Spain when I visited him and two in the USA when he came here.

Things really began to become a challenge for us when we started to doubt how we could sustain a healthy relationship that involved endless flights back and forth to each of our respective countries every 6 months. There was no light at the end of the tunnel and I think we both were losing hope.

We needed answers and we didn’t have them.

Discovering Pareja de Hecho

It was October of 2017. I was working at my old direct sales job in a Home Depot. To make a long story short, I was chatting with a customer about some work she needed to have done in her kitchen. We went back to my desk and she commented on how talking to me had lifted her mood because she was missing her daughter who was right around my age. I asked what happened to her. She began to explain, “Well, she’s living in Spain right now so she won’t be with my family for Thanksgiving. She used to go to college here but she met a foreign exchange student from Spain and they started dating in college. They were going back and forth and now she’s living in Spain with him for a few years.”

I put down my pencil and looked up from the paperwork. “Whoa. Your daughter’s story sounds freakishly similar to my own… You said she’s my age? They met in college? He’s from Spain? And she’s living in Spain with him!?” She nodded.

“If you don’t mind elaborating a bit, having this conversation would be so helpful to me right now. I’m so curious. Sorry, I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you but I have actually also been dating someone from Spain who I met in college. We broke up 3 months ago after 2 years of dating because living together seemed almost infeasible for us. How are they managing to live together? Have they already gotten married? I would really appreciate you sharing any of this information with me!”

She took out one of her business cards. On the back of it, she wrote, “Pareja de Hecho.” She looked up and began to elaborate, “In Spain, there is something you can apply for called a pereja de hecho. It essentially means “established couple.” The application is a bit tedious but the requirements to qualify are simple. You must show that your relationship is real, have proof it isn’t being done for the purpose of obtaining residency, and of course, it has some limitations. If you obtain this, it allows you to legally live in Spain for up to 5 years. It works great for situations like the one my daughter found herself in. They can live together while they continue to enjoy their relationship. You should look into it.”

I smiled at her and asked her a few additional questions about their relationship, what they do for work, how they like it, etc. Finally, I teared up. I simply said, “Thank you for sharing this with me. You may never know it but this information could change my future. Maybe not, I have no clue. I will need to do some research and talk to my ex again before anything can happen but you have given me hope again. I don’t know if anything will ever come of this but just knowing such an option exists changes my entire perspective.”

Sadly, I never brought this up to my ex-boyfriend from Spain because, at the time, I was still working at Home Depot and did not yet get hired to work remotely teaching ESL online for VIPKID. Obviously things are different now but maybe my window of opportunity has passed. Deep down inside, I think he may have moved on.

How to Get a Pareja de Hecho in Spain

The first thing you must know: the instructions vary region-by-region. You must look up your partner’s region and qualify based on their specific qualifications. Everything will most likely be in Spanish so if you don’t know the language, hopefully, your partner will help.

Step 1: Be in a real relationship with someone from Spain.

Don’t abuse the system. Sometimes, shady things take place when it comes to foreigners seeking citizenship. Please do all of us a favor and only claim your relationship in Spain if the relationship really does exist.

For professional legal advice regarding immigration, you may wish to speak with a lawyer.

Assuming your relationship is real, let’s continue.

Step 2: Make an appointment with the Registero de Uniones de Hecho

When you and your Spanish significant other are in Spain, go to the Registero de Uniones de Hecho to make an appointment. The location varies by region from what I understand. Hours will depend on your location but it will most likely be open Monday-Friday and close on the earlier side.

You will need your passport or EU national identity card.

The office should provide you with a paper that explains the details of the process and lists all of the legal documentation. They will give you a date for your ceremonial appointment. The wait varies by region but it can take up to 6 months! Yes, no joke.

Step 3: Patience, of course!

If you’re worried about your visa status, you’ll need to plan carefully. As you know, a US citizen can only stay in the Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days before being legally required to leave. For specific information on how to handle this, email me: [email protected].

Step 4: Gather Your Legal Documents

The great thing about having to wait up to 6 months is that you have a lot of time to gather all of your legal documents. You will need to verify to the official that you are above 18 years of age, not already Pareja de Hecho’ed to someone else, not related to your significant other, and are mentally stable. Some documents may need to be brought to the office before the date of your ceremony. 

The requirements vary but you will most likely need:

  • Your passports
  • The completed application form (solicitud)
  • Proof of payment (The cost varies but is usually over 80 Euros. They will give you a tax form that can be paid at any bank.)
  • A certified copy, from either person, of their empadronamiento from the autonomous community in which the pareja de hecho is being requested. You can request this online at no cost. It is mailed to your address within 1 week.
  • Proof of marital status. Both members must be single and able to prove it.
  • If you are non-EU and have already lived in Spain, a copy of your NIE will be requested.

Documents must be brought to the Registro one month before the date of your ceremony. Rumor has it that they are very understanding and may allow you to bring it to them within a week of your ceremony but do you really want to take chances? I certainly wouldn’t.

Now, here is the complicated part. Legal documents in Spain are only valid for 3 months after they are issued. While you certainly shouldn’t wait to get your documents, you don’t want to get them too early either. Make sure your timeframes line up properly.

Step 5: Proof of Marital Status (Being Single)

They say this is the most frustrating step in obtaining a Pareja de Hecho. While most documents are cheap and easy to obtain, this one might be a bit more complicated. As an American, you will have to make an appointment online at the U.S. Embassy to request this document. The wait for an appointment is around 2 months. Fortunately, the American Embassy does this stuff all the time and they have one already pre-made in Spanish that you simply just have to sign. The fee is $50.00. You can pay cash or credit.

From what I understand, Europeans must request a declaración jurada from your home country’s embassy or consulate.

Now, remember! This document will only be valid 3 months after you receive it. So you might have to get it after you have gone to the Registro in Spain. But be careful because the Registro will need it one month before your ceremony! Are you still following? Good.

Step 6: Now Wait.

This process involves a lot of waiting. You’re dealing with a public system.

Step 7: Find Two Witnesses

At the ceremony, you will need 2 witnesses. These witnesses can be anyone you both know: family, friends, coworkers, it doesn’t matter. They don’t have to be a citizen of Spain either. The witnesses affirm that the coupon has dated for at least 12 months. The government wants to know this isn’t just a sudden fling established for the purpose of gaining entry into Spain.

Step 8: Now Wait Some More.

Lovely weather today, am I right? 😀

Step 9: Get Your Pareja de Hecho

With the wait finally over, it is time for your ceremony! The ceremony is very practical and it takes place in the beautiful hall inside of your Registro. There is no dress code so feel free to attend in comfortable clothing. You may show up in a suit and tie or you may wear jeans and a t-shirt.


Extra Information

From what I understand, the Pareja de Hecho is a wonderful option that doesn’t seem to bear as much weight or responsibility as, say, marriage. I don’t 100% know how Spanish people view it culturally but it sounds to me like it is seen as a means-to-an-end more than anything else. I don’t think people put much weight on it. My friend from Home Depot told me that they are easily dissolved too, god forbid the relationship falls apart. She didn’t want her daughter to feel trapped. Oh, and it is LGBT friendly!!!! If you’re trying to figure out how to live with your lover for an extended period of time, this could be just what you need.

As I said before, I hope this gives you and your Spanish partner hope. No relationship should be long-distance forever.

Personal Life Update:

Thank you for all of the e-mails I have been receiving. It has been such an honor and a pleasure to hear about all of your individual stories as you and your partner explore the possibilities of what a Pareja de Hecho would mean for your relationship. I want to share another personal update about my relationship with my Spanish boyfriend since some things have changed since the day I first published this. (First off – we are back together!) It was October of 2017 when I first discovered the existence of the “pareja de hecho” relationship-based legal status in Spain. We had broken up just two months prior. In July of 2018, I finally reconnected with my boyfriend from Spain while I was backpacking around Europe. In November, he and I discussed this option (along with many others) but the two of us decided we are going to do this. At this very moment (December of 2018), we are officially going through with the process. If all goes well, by following the steps I’ve outlined above, our paperwork and relationship legal status in Spain will all come together in 2019 when we are pareja’ed. I will share more stories and updates as this unfolds for us. In the meantime, I look forward to still hearing more about your stories and experiences!

My e-mail is [email protected]. You’re also welcome to leave your story for all of us in the comment section below.

For American’s seeking professional legal advice on Spanish visas or immigration, you may wish to consult with a lawyer. You can find a specialized immigration lawyer to discuss your specific situation with by using this online tool.

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  1. Jennifer

    I have the Paraja de Hecho with my current boyfriend who is Spanish, and my NIE and everything. Unfortunately, things aren’t working out between us and we are considering breaking up. Do you know if I will still be able to stay in the country with my NIE even if we don’t live together anymore? Do they even check if you move?

    1. First of all, I am sorry to hear about your relationship ending. As for the legal part of it, while it might be beneficial to check with a lawyer for official legal advice, my understanding on this topic has been that once you have it, it is valid until it expires. I could be wrong about that so I would double check to be certain. If you would like a referral through, I would be happy to provide you with contact information.

    1. That’s a great question! Unfortunately, I’m not too sure about the impact that pareja de hecho would have on permission for foreigners to work in Spain. I want to say it would most likely NOT grant that permission since I believe it’s more focused on residency, but that’s a question you can definitely direct to the appropriate Embassy/Consulate to make sure you get current/accurate information for his or her individual circumstances.

  2. Mari

    Hi. Thanks for your post! Were you able to stay in the country for the whole waiting process? Meaning, are you given some temporary right to remain in Spain if you are going through an official process of getting the Pareja de Hecho status/waiting for the ceremony? Or did you have to leave after the 90-day Schengen limit, and re-enter the country? Thank you!

    1. Hi Mari! Thanks for your comment. Yes, you should be fine to stay in Spain conditionally as long as you have submitted the application and are waiting for the decision. (Note: This is not legal immigration advice, just sharing what I’ve learned for entertainment/informational purposes.) Wishing you the best of luck with your application!

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The Rocky Safari