David vs. Spanish Residency (Round 1)

Spanish Residency

A couple of articles before, I said that I was going to investigate that rumour about having to renew the Spanish residency every 5 years.

And so I did, but this is just round 1 (read Round 2 and Final Round). Keep reading please :-)

Whether you are living in Spain or thinking about moving here, you will find some valuable information in this article.

In the last three years, I have seen the following versions of the Spanish residency (called “residencia” in Spanish):

1. Card with photo. If you still have this one it will need to be renewed at some point, since it expires. It looks like this:

Spanish Residency - Card Version

2. A4 green paper. They are not giving this version anymore, although it’s still valid. It looks as follows:

Spanish Residency - Paper Version

3. Card with no photo. This is the very last version, the one my clients have been getting approximately for the last year.

Spanish Residency - New Card version

All three are independent Spanish residencies. You don’t need to have them all, but just one.

I’ve been doing residencias for 3 years. They have always told me at police stations that the A4 green paper and the card with no photo (image number 2 & 3) don’t expire. What about the rumour then?

Before I go to the final result, let me tell you something I found during my research. I already knew this, which I’m sure will be interesting for you. Authorities say that people holding a Spanish residency must renew it if they change their address, nationality or marital status. All this comes specified at the Spanish National Police official Website (in Spanish, sorry):


The previous source warns residents they will lose their Spanish residencies if they stay out of Spain for longer periods than 6 months. However, there are some exceptions as serious illness, pregnancy, professional training, etc.

Anyway, getting back to the 5-year rumour. In order to try to clarify that, I set up my very first target: Ministerio del Interior, the national organisation in charge of providing documents to people from other nationalities in Spain, which would also be above the people who physically issue your Spanish residency: the National Police.

I was at home. I prepared some cinnamon tea with milk (love it!) and sat down with my computer on my lap. The “Ministerio del Interior” official Website was not too hard to find. I wrote a short email. Clicked on the send button and thought for a few seconds about how many weeks it would take them to answer (in case they did).

What I surprise. A few hours later I come back from doing several translations and realize I have received an email from this people! Unbelievable.

Well, bad news. The email comes with three huge paragraphs full of articles and regulations that, as it probably happens to you when you receive similar things in your own language, say nothing to me.

The funny thing is that this incredibly big email finishes saying: “for further information, please, contact the National Police station assigned to your area”. Aren’t you people supposed to be above the National Police?

Spanish residency: 1 – David: 0

Or should I say “draw” instead?

To be continued…


Image credit Ari Bakker

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  1. jess says

    Hi David,

    Interesting article, I presume if it is necessary to renew or change our residencia,you will be able to help us with this, also maybe at a later date you could give information on renewing or changing driving licences.
    Regards Jess.

  2. David Ruiz says

    Hi Jess,

    Sure, just let me know anytime and I’ll help you out with your residencia.

    Thanks for your suggestion about driving licences. I have always done driving licences when my clients decided to change them. However, I recently found out that people must get the Spanish one after six months as residents. It seems to be a new law.

    I’ll make another research and will write an article!

    Best wishes,


  3. peter says


    i wonder if it is possible to exchange No2 to No 3 as the A4 sheet is a bit inconvienent

  4. David Ruiz says

    Hi Peter,

    Sure, you can change your A4 residencia to the new card with no photo (No 2 to No 3).

    In fact, I did that for one of my clients like a month ago, at the Torrevieja police station.



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