Residency in Spain

Any EU citizen intending to stay in Spain for more than three months is obliged to register to be added to the Central Register of Foreign Nationals (Registro Central de Extranjeros) at a Foreigners’ Office (Oficina de
Extranjero) or local police station (Policia Nacional) if there is no foreigners’ office in the area in which they intend to reside.


A Registration Certificate as an EU Resident (Certificado de registro como residente comunitario) is issued. This document certifies residence in Spain and includes the holders name, address, nationality, and foreigners tax identification number (Número de Identificación de Extranjero – NIE) along with the date of registration. This certificate will remain valid for no longer than five years, at which point it must be renewed.

Note: Prior to the introduction of the Residence Certificate in April 2007, foreigners were required to submit a separate application for an NIE. This is no longer necessary, as application for an NIE is incorporated in the residence certificate application process. Within three months of arrival in Spain, application for a Residence
Certificate must be made at the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local police station in the province of intended residence. In some areas, an appointment can be made in advance. Proof of payment is required before the residence certificate can be issued; request a payment form (Modelo 790) at a National Police Office; payment is made at a bank and the form stamped as proof.

The following documents are required in order to apply for a Residency Certificate:
1. Valid passport or national identity card
2. Signed application form EX18 (Solicitud de certificado de registro de residencia comunitaria)
3. a) Form EX18
4. Proof that payment has been made (a bank-stamped Modelo 790 payment form). If an NIE number has previously been assigned, take the certificate as proof of payment.

If all paperwork is in order, the Residence Certificate is issued immediately and is valid indefinitely. However, the relevant police or foreigner’s office should be notified of any change to personal status (marriage, divorce,
change of address) using the same form EX18 and following the same process. The Residence Certificate is a piece of paper which contains the NIE number. It is not an identity document and the certificate should be carried with identification (such as a passport) at all times.

Legislation that came into force in July 2012 requires all EU Citizens who wish to live or stay longer than three months in Spain to provide evidence of sufficient financial means to support themselves and any dependents. They may also be asked to provide evidence of having public or private health insurance.

The British Embassy in Madrid has created an unofficial English translation of the Spanish Ministerial Order which details these residency requirements and the documentation.

Family Members of EU Citizens
The rights of the EU citizen are extended to their family members (irrespective of nationality). This includes the spouse by marriage, a partner by civil partnership (or marriage equivalent), dependent children under 21 and dependent grown children and parents. Application should be made for a Residency Card for EU Citizen Family Members (Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión) at the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local police station in the province of intended residence.

The following documents are required in order to apply for a Residency Card for EU Citizen Family Members
1. Valid passport (or a copy of a renewal application)
2. Signed application form EX19 (Solicitud de certificado de registro como residente o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Union)
3. a. Form EX19
4. Proof of family relationship with the EU citizen (such as a marriage certificate, proof of partnership registration, birth certificates for children)
5. Identification (passport) or DNI (Spanish citizen) of the EU family member
6. Three recent colour passport photographs

If a marriage certificate is used as proof of family relationship, the Spanish authorities may insist that it is only valid if issued within the last 90 days. If the applicant’s marriage certificate is older, it may be possible
for them to confirm its validity via the embassy or consulate of the issuing country. In this regard, Spain may be acting against EU directives.

Divorce, separation or death
The Ministerio del Interior website has information regarding what procedures must be followed in the case of divorce, legal separation or the death of the EU citizen.

Renewal of the Residency Card
A residency card will remain valid for no longer than five years, after which it must be renewed. The following documents must be presented:
1. Valid passport (if expired, present a copy of the renewal application)
2. Proof of valid marriage/proof of an on-going marriage with an authentication of marriage certificate issued no more than three months prior to renewal application. If not in Spanish, it must be officially translated
3. EU-family member’s registration certificate, valid passport or photo ID (or DNI of a Spanish family member)
4. Dependent children under 21 and dependent adult: proof of family relationship or dependency
5. Three recent colour passport-size photographs (on white background)
6. Proof of payment of the fee for issuing the card (a bank-stamped Modelo 790 payment form)

Authenticated marriage certificate: A marriage certificate must be requested from the country where the marriage took place. Some countries issue marriage certificates on request online, others require a request to be made to the country’s official records department – consult the relevant Consular authority for further information. The certificate is dated for the time the request is made. All foreign (not Spanish) documents should be translated into Spanish by an official translator. They must then be authenticated or legalised. Translated and legalised documentation should not be more than three months old.

Documents issued by a country which is a signatory of The Hague Convention can be authenticated or legalised by carrying the official seal of Certificate of Apostille of the Hague (Apostilla de la Haya). Consular offices are authorised to legalise documents in this way. There is usually a fee for authentication and translation.

Non-EU Citizens Moving to Spain
Many non-EU citizens require a visa to enter Spain. If the stay is intended to be under three months (90 days), a tourist visa may be required. This is issued by the Spanish Embassy in the home country; it does not permit the holder to work or to stay longer than three months. Currently citizens of the USA, Australia and New Zealand do not need a tourist visa to enter Spain (South Africans do), however if the intention is to stay, a residence visa is required.

Residence visas
Anyone arriving in Spain with the intention of staying longer than three months requires a Residence Visa (Visado de Residencia). This must be requested from and issued by the Spanish Embassy of the applicant’s home country, before departure for Spain. It is different to the standard three-month tourist visa in that it allows the holder to begin the residency application process. Application for residency is not typically done with a tourist visa. It is possible to search for Spanish Embassies worldwide on the Spanish tourism authority website (Instituto de Turismo de España)

For those already in Spain seeking information about obtaining a residence visa, information is available from the Ministry of the Interior.

Ministry of the Interior
Tel: 900 150 000 (toll-free; Spanish only)

Residence card (Tarjeta de Residencia)
Citizens of non-EU countries wishing to stay in Spain for more than three months must apply for a Residency Permit/Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) within 30 days of arriving in the country. The application must be made at the Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local police station in the province of intended residence.
The documentation required varies depending on the situation. Consult with the local Oficina de Extranjeros or police station to determine which documents are required.

The following documentation is required to apply for a Tarjeta de Residencia:
1. Valid passport and photocopy
2. Three passport-size colour photographs
3. Completed application form and three copies
4. Proof of address in Spain
5. Receipt for payment of the administration fee, stamped by bank

The following documentation may also be required (certified translations may be requested):
1. Copy of a job contract or a certificate of employment (if applicable)
2. Self-employed individuals must produce evidence that they meet the same professional conditions required of Spanish nationals and that they have applied for authorisation to carry out their professional activity
3. Proof of academic and/or professional qualifications (if applicable)
4. Proof of financial resources for those not intending to work
5. Proof of school enrolment (for students only)
6. Proof that the applicant has no prior criminal record (Certificado de Antecedentes Penales); available from a home country Embassy or local police department in the former place of residence
7. Medical certificate
8. Consular inscription (a letter from the home Consulate)
9. Proof that the applicant has medical insurance cover in Spain

Once the application for a residence permit has been made, a stamped copy of the application is issued; the Residence Card should be issued within three to four months. Resident Cards may be renewed at the Foreigners Office. In the event of a change of address or personal circumstance, the local Oficina de Extranjeros or police station must be notified within 30 days. The initial Residence Card is valid for one year; this can be renewed
annually for up to five years. For non-EU nationals with an EU-national family member who is resident or intending to become resident in Spain, see the section on Family Members of EU Citizens.

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