Are you thinking about applying for Spanish residency? Stay around, I’m going to unveil the mystery in my own words 😉
Before you start reading the article…
Are you from the United Kingdom? Please keep reading, I have got a full section here about moving to Spain from the UK, visas and Brexit.
Regarding Spanish residency for non-European Union citizens, please click on the options below:
- Are you from the USA? Please read my 2022 guide all about moving to Spain from the USA
- Are you from Canada? Please read my 2022 guide all about moving to Spain from Canada
- Are you from South Africa? Please read my 2022 guide all about moving to Spain from South Africa
- Are you from Australia? Please read my 2022 guide all about moving to Spain from Australia
Or perhaps you would like to know more about:
The 2022 definitive Spain visa guide and types of Spanish visas for non-European Union citizens
Spanish residency for non-European Union citizens married/family members of European Union citizens
Are you ready to become a citizen of Spain? Please read my article Spanish citizenship
NOTE: Article updated on 17 April 2022
What is the Spanish residency permit?
It is the most important document you should plan if you are thinking about moving to Spain for more than three months.
Your Spanish residency card can be:
- Short term
- Long term
There are two different versions:
- European Union citizens – it is a green card with your personal details and no photo.
- Non-European Union citizens – it is a blue / pink card with your personal details as well as a passport photo on it.
The procedure to apply for Spanish residency varies between European Union and non-European Union citizens.
Countries within the European Economic Area apply through the same procedure.
As a reminder, the European Economic Area are:
- Member states of the European Union
- The three countries of the European Free Trade Association: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (excluding Switzerland).
However, Switzerland will apply for residency in the same way as any other European Economic Area member state.
In short, no matter where you are from, if you are thinking about retiring in Spain, you will need your residence card in Spain.
Where do you get the Spanish residency card?
There are three possibilities if you are thinking about applying for residency:
- Spanish National Police stations with foreign affairs division
- Immigration offices with foreign affairs division
- A branch of the previous offices
It is not possible to apply for Spanish residency using power of attorney. You must be present the day of the appointment.
Furthermore, the residency application cannot be done at the Spanish Consulate/embassy, unlike the NIE number application.
You will need to apply in the province where you live, which is shown on the padron certificate.
Remember, the padron is generally produced at the town hall. I will put a link at the end of this article to learn more about the padron certificate
What can I use the Spanish residency for?
There are some common activities/procedures you can carry out on residency:
- Register at the Spanish social security to have healthcare
- Pay tax
- Get employed
- Register a business
- Buy / sell a car
- Buy / sell property
- Other legal economic activities
In addition, some of the Spanish residency benefits you will obtain are:
- Renewal of your driving licence into Spanish.
- Obtain your local pensioner’s card (if you are on a pension).
- Get your Spanish health card covered by Spanish social security (you can get it on an NIE if you’re employed in Spain though).
- Permanent residency.
- Get on the padron at your town hall (permanent status)
- A possible tax reduction on properties when you sell / buy (get in touch with an legal adviser to find out more about this in detail, as tax is not my area of expertise).
- A tax reduction on inheritance tax may also be applied (contact your legal adviser for more information).
Moving to Spain from the UK
If you are not from the United Kingdom, please skip this section.
If you are in the first steps of the big move, you can start with this huge guide:
Or if you would like to read about the different visas available:
The 2021 definitive Spain visa guide and types of Spanish visas for non-European Union citizens
Here are other articles I wrote about Brexit over the last several years:
The three variables to successfully obtain your Spanish residency
In the following sections I’m going to give you some of the basic requirements required to obtain your residency card.
If you don’t know how to get residency in Spain, these are the three variables you must keep into consideration before you go ahead:
- Your group (pensioners, workers, business, self-employed, own resources)
- The requirements for your group (different paperwork required depending on the group)
- The location where you will apply (17 Spanish regions + Ceuta and Melilla, 50 provinces, lots of cities and towns within)
Trust me, there isn’t one way to apply for residency. I have clients all over Spain. I see the three variables all the time.
These are the usual scenarios you will come across on the Internet:
- “Free advisers” on Facebook giving you 574 different answers
- Forums full of confusing advice (and fights amongst the users)
- Incomplete information on the official websites of your country of origin
But nobody mentions anything about three variables that will change your application completely.
Stop reading conflicting and misleading information on the Internet and plan your Spanish residency using my three variables.
If you would like me to assist you, there is a contact form at the end of the article, but please keep reading. I would like you to find out the exact group you belong in the next section
(But always keep in mind “the three variables”)
How to apply for Spanish residence in Spain
Remember, if you are from a non-European Union country and are not married to a European Union citizen, you will need a visa before you get the Spanish residency card (one of the most common visas is the Spanish non-lucrative visa).
To obtain your residency card, you will need to get on the padron.
Also, you may need official translations for marriage certificates, birth certificates, school diplomas, criminal records, etc. Find out at the relevant office before applying for residency (click here have a look to this article I wrote on official translations).
These are the most commons scenarios:
– Financial Means
Every police station is different.
It is impossible to confirm how it will be because there are many police stations all over Spain.
The formula might be:
Spanish bank account and/or foreign bank accounts and/or savings and/or regular income.
Your relevant police station will confirm the exact formula.
Public insurance if you are on a state pension.
People on private pensions may have to take private insurance.
One way or another, these forms must state that you have healthcare in Spain.
After you obtain your Spanish residency card, you can register at the Spanish social security to finally have a Spanish health card.
2. EMPLOYEES (IN SPAIN)
This applies to those legally working in Spain. You will need a Spanish working records.
Same here regarding minimum wage and how many months you should be living here before you can apply for residency, just find out at the relevant police station.
3. SELF-EMPLOYED PEOPLE (IN SPAIN)
As in the last section, you must be legally self-employed in Spain to request the Spanish residency and will have to bring generally:
- Working records
- Proof of self-employment registration
- Financial means (same as in the “pensioners” section before).
4. UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE (IN SPAIN)
Being unemployed in a different country will not be enough to obtain the residency card.
Remember, you have to be legally unemployed in Spain. These are the requirements:
- Either sworn statement with bank certificate or financial means.
- Private medical insurance policy. Original + one photocopy.
5. NEITHER OF THE ABOVE
In this situation, you may be able to apply even though you are not employed, self-employed, a pensioner or unemployed.
Talk to the National Police in your area as requirements may vary from one place to another.
More information on how to become a resident in Spain
- The way to proof your address for the Spanish residency procedure is done through the padron certificate.
- Becoming a resident in Spain may cause changes to your fiscal status. Find out through a professional fiscal adviser.
- Obtaining the Spanish residence permit does not mean that you lose your original citizenship.
- Your Spanish permanent residency will become permanent after five years, but it’s not automatic; you will have to re-apply for it.
- As with the NIE number, the Spanish residency is not a valid identification document, unless it’s the version with the photo. Either way, take your passport with you for official procedures… just in case.
- If your European Union residency card gets lost or stolen, you will have to re-apply for it.
- If you are a pensioner, and have no private medical insurance, you will need to become a resident to register at the Spanish social security, the previous step to having a Spanish health card.
- You can’t exchange your driving licence for a Spanish one without being a resident.
- As mentioned earlier, nobody can apply for your residencia on your behalf using power of attorney. There are many other procedures where you can use power of attorney, such as resident tax, non-resident tax, Spanish wills, etc.
- If you are from a non-European Union country and are married to an European Union citizen, you can apply for Spanish residency without going through a long-term visa.
- Those from a non-European Union country will have to renew their residency periodically until they get a permanent residency Spain.
- Remember, you must apply for residency if you are spending more than three months in Spain.
Some other interesting articles about Spanish residency
Here we go!
Are you ready to apply for your Spanish residency card?
If yes, here is the starting point.
Please click / tap on the image below:
Costa Blanca: These are my usual in-person coverage areas in Costa Blanca Spain, Altea, Calpe, Orihuela Costa, Guardamar, Javea, Moraira, Alicante, La Marina, Denia, Pilar de la Horadada, Benidorm, El Campello, Santa Pola, and, of course, Torrevieja; as well as other towns near Alicante.
Cities and towns in Murcia province:
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.
Credit image: R. Reynolds