Residency in Spain

The right of a person to live and work in Spain depends on their citizenship as follows:

European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) Citizens: All EU and EEA citizens and their family members have the right to live and work in Spain. However, if remaining in Spain longer than three months, a registration certificate as an EU resident is required.

Non-EU/EEA Spouse and Dependent Family Members: The legally registered partner and dependent family of an EU citizen in Spain are entitled to the same rights as an EU citizen to live in the country, however within three months of arrival, application must be made for an EU Family-member Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar de Cuidadano de la Union).

Non-EU/EEA Citizens: Any non-European Union citizen staying in Spain for a period longer than three months requires a Residence Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) residency permit.

European Union Citizens Moving to Spain

The EU Residence Card

As of March 2007 EU citizens no longer require an EU Residence Card. EU citizens who already hold an EU Residence Card do not need to re-register until the card expires, at which point they should follow the process laid out below.

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 foreigner's 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.

The following documents are required in order to apply for a Residency Certificate:

  • Valid passport or national identity card
  • Signed application form EX18 (Solicitud de certificado de registro de residencia comunitaria)
  • 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

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 (others may also be requested):

  • Valid passport (or a copy of a renewal application)
  • Signed application form EX19 (Solicitud de tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano comunitario)
  • Proof of family relationship with the EU citizen (such as a marriage certificate, proof of partnership registration, birth certificates for children)
  • Identification (passport) or DNI (Spanish citizen) of the EU family member
  • Three recent colour passport photographs
  • Divorce, Separation or Death

The MAP 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

The following documents must be presented:

  • Valid passport (if expired, present a copy of the renewal application)
  • 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
  • EU-family member's registration certificate, valid passport or photo ID (or DNI of a Spanish family member)
  • Dependent children under 21 and dependent adult: proof of family relationship or dependency
  • Three recent colour passport-size photographs (on white background)
  • Proof of payment of the fee for issuing the card (a bank-stamped Modelo 790 payment form)

The NIE Number

All foreigners must have a foreigners tax identification number (Numero de Identificatión de Extranjero - NIE), regardless of whether they are obliged to have a residency permit or not. Applications for an NIE can be made at a local police station which has a foreigners department, or by contacting the local regional government; either in person or through a representative. The number appears on all documents issued in Spain.

An NIE is required by anyone with financial, professional or social interests in Spain. It is also essential when buying property, opening a bank account, starting a business, using short-term employment agencies or arranging receipt of social security benefits.

See also AngloINFO INFOrmation page, NIE (Numero de Identification de Extranjeros)

Advice and Information

The citizens advice unit of the Directorate General for Immigration

Tel: 913 639 071, 913 639 069 or 913 637 108

Related Information

Information from the UK government for UK citizens moving to Spain

Information about living in Spain from the British Embassy in Spain

Age Concern Espana website (in English) which provides advice and support for pensioners in Spain.

The Spanish Ministerio del Interior

The website of the European Union, Europa

Information supplied by Angloinfo