The Spanish Embassy in London was unaware UK civil partners should now receive the same benefit as married couples in Spain, despite advice from the British government that Spanish authorities should be contacted for guidance on the matter.

When contacted by PinkNews.co.uk today Fernando Villalba, the Spanish Embassy press councillor, said: “This is the first time I have heard about that. I haven’t seen it in the news.”

He said he had no advice for same-sex civil partners wishing to claim marriage benefits but suggested contacting the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who issued a note announcing the news last month.

Mr Villalba added, “I haven’t heard of a register of international marriage in Spain.

“You go to Spain as a married couple and you have your certificate of marriage. If you have to show that for a specific benefit or a specific purpose, you just show it.”

Reader Grant McClaren contacted the PinkNews.co.uk on Wednesday to say that the Spanish Consulate had told him they were unaware of the change in policy.

Mr McClaren had contacted the consulate for advice on registering his own UK civil partnership.

After directing them to the note verbale, which was posted on the website for the British Embassy in Madrid, he was told his UK civil partnership would still be ‘invalid’.

A ‘note verbale’ is a formal diplomatic communication delivered orally to an official representative of another country.

Trapote Dora, who works in the Spanish Consulate’s Civil Registry, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“After seeing the note verbale, it appears that civil partnerships do give the same legal benefits as marriage in Spain.”

However, she added she was unaware of any official process for same-sex couples wishing to claim these.

The British government has confirmed that a new agreement between the UK and Spain regarding recognition of UK civil partnerships was reached.

The British Embassy website reads: “The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed the British Embassy in Madrid in a Note Verbale dated 16th November 2007 that same-sex couples who have registered a civil partnership in the UK should be treated as spouses for legal purposes in Spain.

“Implementation of this guidance is a matter for the Spanish authorities. Copies of the Note Verbale can be made available to Spanish authorities on request.

“British Nationals living in Spain are responsible for ensuring their own local administrative arrangements comply with Spanish law.

“UK civil partners should consult a lawyer/accountant over any concerns relating to next of kin/property/inheritance tax/tax issues.

“British nationals wishing to obtain information about marriage or civil partnership must also contact the relevant local authority to be sure of the requirements that they need in order for their ceremony to go ahead.”

The agreement follows a campaign by gay couple Paul and Martin Ward who signed the civil partnership register in Devon on Valentine’s Day this year, but were told it would not be recognised in Spain, where Paul lives.