Modifying Spanish Residency after Divorce or Dissolution of a Civil Union

Many foreigners have found that one of the easiest paths to residency in Spain is through marriage or a civil union with a European citizen.

Once unions are formalized and certificates printed, partners are eligible to apply for a Tarjeta Comunitaria, which grants holders legal residency for a period of 5 years and the right to work, among other benefits such as the possibility to work in other EU member states or the option to participate in the public health system.

However, what happens (and we hate to quote One Republic here, but it seems fitting) when the love runs out?


The Three-Year Rule

If your union lasted a minimum of three years, with a least one of those three years spent living with your partner in Spain, the only thing you’ll need to do is notify the Oficina de Extranjeros that originally processed your Tarjeta Comunitaria within 3 months of the change in your status. Do so by making an appointment (when necessary), notifying via snail mail or bringing the following:

  • Passport and photocopy of each page
  • Original and copy of your baja or divorce settlement
  • NIE and photocopy

Ojo with your calculations! In the case of civil unions, years are calculated from the date your pareja de hecho is registered until the date you are dado de baja. For marriages, start counting from the day of the celebration of the marriage until the day you file for divorce, as opposed to the day the divorce is made official.

Your residency status as a comunitario will remain valid until the expiration date printed on your TIE card, but you can also apply for a new card to reflect a change of address if you’d like. Be aware that additional documentation such as a certificado de empadronamiento will be necessary as well as fotos de carné, and processing fees will apply.

When your tarjeta comunitaria expires, you will be eligible to apply for residencia de larga duración – a residency permit that is valid for 10 years to continue living and working in Spain. Be aware that those residents who do not notify extranjería of the change in their status due to disillusion of a partnership with an EU citizen may not be eligible to apply for residency upon the expiration of their TIEs.

For Unions Lasting less than Three Years

For those unions that didn’t quite make the three-year mark, no need to worry – your residency is not in jeopardy so long as you are working. Partners are eligible to apply for an autorización de residencia y trabajo por cuenta ajena. The requirements are similar to most work permits and include:

  • Form EX-03 and photocopy
  • Original passport and copy of each page
  • A Criminal Background Check (with an Apostille of the Hague affixed and a sworn translation)
  • A work contract valid until the expiration of your TIE card
  • Proof the company you work with is up-to-date and financially solvent (usually by providing a copy of their IPRF declaration)
  • Processing Fees or Tasas

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We decided to keep our list of required documents minimal, as we believe that a legal professional should be consulted to determine if additional paperwork might be necessary. Applicants must be up-to-date with all of their taxes and work contracts should prove the means to support yourself until the expiration of your TIE. While a full-time contract is not necessary, you will need to prove you are earning annually more than the minimum salary of a full-time worker in Spain. Employers must also prove financial solvency.

Those applying for residencia y trabajo por cuenta ajena have 3 months from the termination of their marriage or civil union to present documentation for the modification of their status.

More questions? COMO works with a number of trusted lawyers around Spain and would be happy to supply a reference.

Author: Como Consulting Spain

Cat and Hayley are relocation specialists who can help you move to, live in and work in Spain. We'd love to hear from you!

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  1. thanks.please how can I get in touch,as my lawyer.I live in Bilbao.please reply me on my email.or te.612236860

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      • please.we breakup as Pareja de Hecho last 7 month, can we re apply as Pareja de Hecho again. what can I do? please thanks

        Post a Reply
        • Hi Esther,
          As long as you have proof of your baja from your previous PDH and meet all of the requirements for applying again, then yes, you can enter into a new PDH without issue. In some comunidades a minimum time must have passed between relationships, so be aware of that and check with the registro civil office where you plan to apply.

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  2. Please can I divorce now? my marrage is going to be 3years by september 2017 and i have a 5years resident is my divorce going to affect it ?

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    • Hi,
      If you’ve been married for three years then yes, you can divorce without it affecting your current residency status.

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      • Thanks for your feedback,

        But me and my husband don’t live in the same house but we are in the same state but different address will that affect my resident after my divorce to him ?

        Post a Reply
        • It does not affect your residency. If you are divorced it doesn’t matter where you live in relation to where your ex-husband lives.

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          • We are not divorce,we have live together for 2years, but now we are live in different address since October 2016 the same state in spain?will it affect my document when we get a divorce from marriage of 2 years. ?

          • Yes. As the article states – if you dissolve a union before three years you must meet additional requirements in order to modify your residency status.

  3. Me and my husband are married since September 5 2014,we have been living together ,but in September 2016,i change my address from the house , to another house ,but we are still married ,now my husband need a devoice from me i hope it will not effect my 5years resident, if i agree to divorce him nest year 2018? Please i need some help?.

    Post a Reply
    • HI Isabell,
      If you are working at the moment then you have no need to worry. Plus, divorce paperwork can take a long time and as of September 5, 2017 you will be past the three year mark and elegible to modify your residency without issue.

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      • Thanks for this information I was very scared before now I am not thanks

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        • I have worked for six months then my work stop but I have applied for a new one.

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  4. Hello. I am in Madrid and have had PDH for less than three years. I’m an autonoma, can I apply for modificación de residencia con cuenta PROPIA? I bill more than the minimum wage (707€) per month.

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