Spanish residency visa: EU vs Non-EU

Spanish residency visa

You must have heard about the Spanish residency visa, the Spanish residency card, the NIE number… so confusing, isn’t it?

You know you must have a Spanish residency card to live in Spain.

You want to do things legally.

You don’t want to get in trouble with the Spanish authorities.

But every time you try to find out how to obtain your Spanish residency…


You hit yourself against a wall.

You get gazillions of contradictions on Facebook.

You spent hours and hours researching on the Internet to simply get nowhere.

The forums bring more and more confusion.

Nobody seems to know how it works.

It’s madness.

It’s so frustrating.


Spanish residency NIE number

(Without the right guidance, applying for your Spanish residency card will look like this)


Before we start… Yours Free

Spain 101 is a free ebook full of unique tips that will save you thousands of Euros when moving to / living in Spain.

Would you like to get it now?

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This is what most people don’t know

To obtain your Spanish residency card you must start with this basic question:

Am I from an EU or Non-EU country?

Then, depending on the answer, the procedure will be one way or another.

In short, EU citizens apply in a way and non-EU citizens apply in a different way because the Spanish residency rules are different for each group.

That’s all.

Knowing the group you belong to is the very beginning, is the gateway to your Spanish dream.

When you finish the Spanish residency procedure, your new Spanish life will be on the other side.

A new property.

A new location.

A new culture.

New friends.

Tons of experiences unique experiences.

A new happy life where you will speak Spanish (yes, you will!).

The sun will light up your face. Then, you will realise that all the ups and downs throughout your life were part of the path that took you to your beloved Spain.

Spanish residency card

(But sunshine will come after the storm… the paperwork storm)


Here is where the big problem stars

All right, let me rub my hands.

I’ve written so much about this topic and I’ve witnessed so many disasters that I could write a full book.

Here we go:

  • No matter what 450 anonymous people said on Facebook.
  • No matter what you read on the Internet (including official websites).
  • No matter how hard you use the law of attraction for a successful application.
  • No matter how much money you have, yachts, properties, cars, expensive watches and diamond rings you own.

Having your Spanish residency card has one non-negotiable rule, a principle you can’t skip no matter how unique your personal situation is.

The final word is at the relevant office

Correct, this means the final word is not:

  • On Facebook groups where a good 99,9% of times you are getting answers from estrangers who only share personal experiences (not professional).
  • At Bar Pepe (where coffee and tapas might be really good, by the way, but nobody has a clue about the Spanish residency visa).
  • At whatever articles on a free newspaper (or in paid newspapers) because the author cannot cover every single relevant office in Spain (nobody can, unless your write an encyclopedia and keep updating it once a week).
  • At the town hall (which is local government and has nothing to do with foreign affairs or immigration matters).



Is the Spanish residency visa EU or non-EU?

Let’s see an example here.

Two people want to move to Barcelona: an EU citizen and a non-EU citizen.

Let’s say that they both have enough money in savings.

They have their own private insurance.

So, what’s the difference between the two?

The EU citizen can apply for his EU Spanish residency card in one single visit, as long as he provides the right documents required by Barcelona foreign affairs office (oficina de extranjería).

He will get this kind of card:

Spanish residency for EU

The non-EU citizens (unless he is married to an EU citizen) will have to apply for a Spanish residency visa and start the process at the Spanish consulate of the country of origin or country where he/she has legal residency. Then, apply for the Spanish residency card once he has obtained the visa.

After the visa, he will get this kind of card:

Spanish TIE card

This card is just an example I have created for this article. The final one will have a similar format.


Can you see the difference?

As an EU citizen, having the Spanish residency card is a one-step process. If you could have an appointment tomorrow and deliver all the requirements, you would have your residency in your hand tomorrow.

However, as a non-EU citizen, the process is much slower and longer. In addition, the requirements are more complex. So, after you apply for your visa in the consulate, once in Spain, you would have to apply for the Spanish residency.

Note: if you are from the United Kingdom, British citizens still apply as EU citizens (as of today 23 July 2019).


There is no easy way out

Not for any of the two groups.

EU citizens must go through the financial means and healthcare requirements, which are in general the two main reasons to get the Spanish residency rejected.

Non-EU citizens cannot skip the financial means and healthcare requirements either (and criminal records and health certificate, amongst many others).

As a non-EU citizen, you will have to determine the kind of visa you are applying for (and deliver the relevant documentation):

  • Non-lucrative visa
  • Working visa
  • Student visa
  • Investment visa
  • Business visa

Spanish residency permit

(Obtaining your Spanish residency card is a one-way system)


My recommendation

Regardless of whether you are an EU or non-EU, take moving to Spain seriously.

Very seriously.

You are moving to a foreign country.

This is not another region or state within your country of origin.

It’s a foreign country.

The path to disaster is wanting to move to Spain saving money and putting yourself on the cheapest hands.

Don’t cut down on two essential aspects: the Spanish residency card and healthcare.

One is the legal stay permit.

The other is your health.

I have been in business for many years, since 2010.

I have met over 10,000 EU and non-EU citizens.

I have witnessed countless disasters of both EU and non-EU citizens:

  • Scams
  • Buying property impulsively to end up in the middle of nowhere (not to tell whether the property was legal or if it has enough quality)
  • Endless suffering because things were not done properly from a healthcare point of view.

The residency permit is everything, the beginning of your Spanish life. It’s the legal stay permit.

Spanish residency permit

(Don’t allow your life to get stranded in Spain because of a cheap decision)


Yours Free

Spain 101 is a free ebook full of unique tips that will save you thousands of Euros when moving to / living in Spain.

Would you like to get it now?

Please click / tap on the image below:


Coverage areas

Alicante Province

Costa Blanca: These are my usual in-person coverage areas in Costa Blanca Spain,  Altea,  Calpe, Orihuela Costa,  Benissa, Guadalest,  GuardamarJaveaMorairaAlicante, La Marina, DeniaVillajoyosa, Pilar de la Horadada, Benidorm, El Campello, Santa Pola, and, of course, Torrevieja; as well as other towns near Alicante.

Inland Alicante province: OrihuelaElche, Pinoso, Almoradi, Alcoy, Orba, Rojales, Biar, Crevillente, Los Montesinos, San Miguel de Salinas, Benijofar, Algorfa.

Murcia Province

Costa Cálida: including Costa Calida SpainSan Pedro del PinatarLos Alcazares, Santiago de la  Rivera, Mar Menor , San JavierMazarronAguilas.

Cities and towns in Murcia province: 

CartagenaYecla, Sucina, Totana, Alhama, Molina de Segura, Fortuna, Murcia city.

Other areas in Spain

I have collaborators almost everywhere all over Spain, so no worries, I can assist you anywhere you are in Spain, in cities such as: Zaragoza, Vitoria, Bilbao, Albacete, Almería, Logroño, Avila, Badajoz, Caceres, Majorca, Zamora, Barcelona, Burgos, Oviedo, Cadiz, Santander, Castellon, Pontevedra, Ciudad Real, Cordoba, Cuenca, Gerona, Granada, Guadalajara, San Sebastian, Huelva, Huesca, Jaen, Navarra, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Gijon, Leon, Lleida, Lugo, Madrid, Malaga, Orense, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Sevilla, Soria, Tarragona, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Teruel, Toledo, Valencia, Valladolid.


  1. Jacqueline Salter says

    We already are spanish residents and also pay our taxes to spain do we become non EU if UK leaves Europe and have to re apply for residency

    • David Ruiz says

      I will write new articles about this subject, but it is too early, nobody knows :-)

  2. Chrissy says

    This is all very well, but, we are resident in Spain have nie, residency, driving licences and we’re in the EU. We are also pensioners. So what happens to us on Oct 31st when we are no longer EU citizens?

    • David Ruiz says

      Well, nobody knows yet. Everything is up in the air. I will write new articles as soon as I find out.