I and my partner are planning to live in Spain since my obtaining a job, to commence in just over a couple of months. I am British therefore to my knowledge have no problem living there.

The concern is my Japanese partner. She can stay in Spain for 90 days (correct?) as things currently stand. If she manages to find a position then there would be the work permit route or possible student visa. I am thinking of the more obvious route however.

We are currently in Japan and have flights booked back to UK in two months' time.

If we were to get married, where should we do this, (Japan/UK/Spain)?

And will this (gallant but horridly unromantic) gesture solve the visa problem so that we are able to stay together (forever) and beat the bureaucrats?

I am aware that UK changed the rules regarding salary minima but recently read something concerning a loophole, in that living in Europe but not UK classes us or my partner under EU rather than UK law. [I am a little over my head on some of this frankly, hence the post.]

  • 2
    I can't quote rules specifically for the UK and Spain but spouses of EU citizens can easily obtain visa to live with their partner. It shouldn't matter where you marry as you can apply to recognize the marriage somewhere else. Marrying in Europe minimizes the paperwork though.
    – neo
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 7:54
  • thanks neo, i was thinking about where whilst wondering if Japan was amongst the Hague Conventions list regarding International Marriage which it is so should be recognised by Europe officially although a transcription would be required and I was also thinking about time span required for this to happen. Booking whatever needs booking and awaiting documentations and such.
    – asabove
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 23:05
  • Parliament have tightened up the marriage rules. It now takes 30 days for a foreign national's notice period at the Registry Office. Plus it's a hassle. Your 'loophole' would be the Singh loophole, Google for 'Surender Singh Immigration Route'. Bottom line, marry in Japan or Spain and get your new wife an EU Family Permit.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 14:40
  • 1
    @GayotFow It's spelt Surinder Singh. Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 18:24
  • 1
    Yes is the Surinder Singh thing not squashed yet? They are usually so quick to shut down any advantage!! I think the more feasible option from afar is to try and get hitched in Spain but it does not come without tribulations according to other forums concerning misinformation from EU members and such. I think Singhs case is more about entitlement to live in your own Country of birth... no great desire to do that currently.
    – asabove
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 23:06

2 Answers 2


One possibility which might not have occurred to you is consular marriage. The UK no longer does consular weddings, but if the Japanese consulate does then Spain would consider a wedding performed at the Japanese consulate in Madrid to be a valid wedding. It's probably easier for your partner to investigate this than for me, because I don't read Japanese.

Getting married in Spain by the Spanish authorities is doable in principle, but I assume that you're not yet fluent Spanish speakers, so don't expect it to be easy. According to various sources, the documentation which you have to provide is:

  • Passports
  • Birth certificates (according to one source, they must be official copies made in the previous 3 months)
  • Certificates from your countries of origin stating that you're unmarried
  • Certificates of residence (empadronamiento) - this might be a problem if your partner isn't able to register as a resident.

All documents which aren't in Spanish will need certified translations and Hague apostille.

However, the impression I get from forum posts from people who've gone this route is that once you've got the documentation in order and make the application you can probably expect to get an appointment for the wedding in about a month, which means that you might be able to pull it off in 90 days.

You're in a better position than me to investigate the options in Japan, and for the UK option you really need to say how long you expect to be there before moving to Spain.

  • Thanks very much for the answer Peter. I need to find out whether the Japanese Embassy do indeed perform such action and if the piece of paper answers to all other future queries... then the cost of said action of course, you are correct in assuming our spanish tongue abilities. With regards to UK, it really would be a flash in the pan event as we will have a limited time to return and leave. So that answer would amount to.. " a couple of days Your Honour" so to speak.. so i'm guessing that's a no. Thanks again for your input.
    – asabove
    Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 1:54
  • Indeed, the UK option would require you both to live in the UK for at least 7 days (and as I read the guidance, your partner would need a special visa), and then you'd have to wait at least 15 days before the wedding itself. gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 7:18

Due to the EU free movement rules, you can move to any country in the EU and bring your wife with you. So for a UK citizen to move to Spain with a Japanese wife is absolutely fine. If you are in the UK then "free movement" doesn't apply because you are not moving - no automatic permission for your wife. The Surinder Singh route means that if you live in another EU country, and then move back to the UK, you can bring her. You must have lived "properly" in the other country which you seem to intend.

The bad news is that things will or may change when the UK leaves the EU. It depends on how much Theresa May gives in to the vicious Little Englanders who are afraid that foreigners take their jobs away (with the majority of them avoiding to get a job). If she totally f***s up things then you might have to leave Spain in March 2019. If she does things right you will have no problems.

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