Getting a Residence Permit in Spain

Getting residency in Spain

One of the top questions asked by foreigners moving to Spain is how to get a residence permit.

In this article, we look at what you need to do to register as a foreign resident in Spain, a process that varies depending on your nationality.

Do you need a residence permit?

The answer to this depends on your nationality and how long you plan to stay in Spain as follows:

Stays for less than three months

If you’re moving to Spain for less than three months (90 days) and belong to the EEA or Switzerland, you are free to enter the country and stay without completing any paperwork.

Need to know – EEA nationals are those from all the EU countries plus Iceland and Norway.

If you’re from outside the EEA, you may require a visa to enter Spain and stay for up to 90 days.

Nationals from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US don’t need a visa, but many others do.

You can check if your nationality is on the list here.

Need to know – allow at least two weeks for your visa to be processed.

Stays over three months

If you’re moving to Spain for more than 90 days, you need to register as resident or apply for a residence permit depending on your nationality.

EEA nationals

Citizens from the EEA and Switzerland don’t need a residence permit to live in Spain, but you must register as resident.

You have the right to live in the country if you can prove you have sufficient funds to live on. You need to prove monthly income of at least €600 either from employment or other sources of income (e.g. a pension).

Need to know – the same procedure applies to all family members. If you have dependents, you’ll need to prove your income can fund them too.

Registration process

To register as a resident in Spain, you must go to the nearest Foreigners’ Department (Oficina de Extranjeros) to your place of residence. You must go within three months of your arrival in Spain. Foreigners’ Departments are located at national police stations and in most large towns and cities. You can see a list here. Click on your region and then on your province.

You need to complete Form EX-18 (you can download it here) and provide proof of funds to support yourself. You also need to show proof of identification (e.g. passport or national ID card).

Registration costs €21.02, which you can pay by card when you go to register. You will receive a certificate of registration, a document you need to keep safe as it proves you live legally in Spain.

Need to know – if you leave Spain for more than six months at a time, you will need to re-register as a resident on your return.

Non-EEA nationals

All non-EEA nationals require a residence permit to legally live in Spain.

The procedure to obtain a permit depends on whether you wish to work or not in Spain.

Not working

If you’re retired or simply wish to take a sabbatical in Spain, the procedure is as follows:

Obtain a residence visa before you come to Spain at the nearest Spanish consulate in your home country. To get this visa you need to prove you have sufficient funds and private health insurance.

Within one month of arrival, you must go to the nearest Foreigners’ Department (Oficina de Extranjeros) to your place of residence. You can consult the list of offices here. Click on your region and then on your province.

Need to know – this type of residence permit does not permit you to work in Spain.

Working

To obtain a residence permit if you wish to work, you need to apply for the appropriate visa before you arrive in Spain.

Within one month of your arrival, you must go to the Foreigners’ Department (see above). You will need to prove you have employment in Spain by:

a)    showing your employment contract and proof that you are registered with the Spanish social security system. Or

b)    if you plan to set up your own business in Spain, you will need to show proof of sufficient funds, qualifications and premises plus a viable business plan.

Need to know – your residence permit is valid for one year and may be renewed for up to five years.