Spain Explained

Applying for Spanish residency: Requirements and tips

Last updated on June 15th, 2020 at 07:55 am.

More and more people are recognising the importance of obtaining Spanish residency if they live in Spain. But it isn’t just civil residency that is important. There’s fiscal residency too. In this article we explain what civil and fiscal residency are and how you can obtain them.

Spanish residency: civil vs fiscal

When people talk about being resident in a country they don’t usually distinguish between civil and fiscal residency. Many people think that they are one and the same thing. But they’re not.

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What is the civil residency?

Civil residency is obtained at the relevant Spanish National police station in the area where you live. You should apply for residency if you are going to live in Spain for more than 90 days. The green card you will obtain will be your “staying permit”. If you live in Spain for more than 183 days, you will be a fiscal resident.

The format of the Spanish residency for British and EU citizens is currently a small green card of credit-card size (with no photo). Non-EU citizens obtain a card with a photo, and the format is a mixture of light red, white and blue colours.


The civil residency has two main requirements:

  1. Financial means – Depending on the police station it will be proof of regular income or savings
  2. Health coverage – Either public if you are employed, self-employed or a pensioner or private with full coverage in Spain.

The main error people make when applying for the civil residency is to try to apply for the spanish residency on their own following advice from friends, misleading websites or even from strangers on social media.

Spanish bureaucracy is constantly changing, so to avoid frustration and wasting time we recommend hiring the services of a professional adviser. If not, you can end up returning to the same office with documents you were missing the first, second or even third time round. We believe that the less stressful outcome justifies the cost of hiring someone to help you.

Once you have your civil residency and to really guarantee that you are recognised as a resident in Spain you should consider going one step further and applying for fiscal residency.

What is fiscal residency?

Fiscal Residency is when you spend more than 183 days in Spain and have got your EU or non-EU Spanish residency cards and present the annual Income Tax Declaration form 100.

Why bother being a fiscal resident?

To begin with, you do not have a choice of not being a Fiscal Resident if you live in Spain and this is your main residence, you are obligated to present the annual Income Tax Declaration based on your world wide income.


The certificate of Fiscal Residency is a white document obtained from the Tax Office (when it is required). There are two types:

  • The first one is the normal Certificate which is often requested for use inside of Spain. For example on sale of property by foreign Residents so there is not retention of the 3% the requirement for sellers who are non-residents in Spain or in settling Inheritance.
  • The second and most common document for Residents is the Certificate of Fiscal Residency under the Double Taxation Treaties “Certificado de Residencia Fiscal con Convenio”, to confirm Fiscal Residency in Spain as these are required by Tax Offices in other countries to stop deducting and paying Tax there.

If you would like more information about fiscal residency and the requirements to obtain the certificate of Fiscal Residence, you can visit this complete post we have prepared for you.

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Obtaining Spanish residency: free consultation

If you’re wondering how to apply for spanish residency, you needn’t be intimidated by the process – it’s simpler than you might think. However, Spanish bureaucracy is constantly changing, so to avoid frustration and wasting time we recommend hiring the services of a professional adviser.

We would like to offer you a first free consultation so you can solve your queries. You just have to fill out this form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Michael Clementson

31 May, 2020 6:47 am


Both my wife and I hold Spanish residency certificates, however as my wife is from Tanzania her residency needs to be renewed at the end of October. Would it be possible to discuss the needs for extending her residency status. We live on María Parodi in Torrevieja.

Oscar Paoli

1 June, 2020 8:54 am

Thanks for your message Michael. Our recommendation is to speak with our relocation adviser collaborator David Ruiz. He will go through everything with you, financial means, healthcare, etc. If you wish to contact him directly please send him an email at

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Julie Ellison

16 June, 2020 2:40 pm

We have obtained Civil residency through our Accountant last year. We do not work or receive pensions in Spain. We own property in the UK which we rent out. We have been told by the UK that we are still required to do a UK tax return. Our lawyers here have advised us that we do not need to do a Spanish Tax return as we are not fiscal residents however other people have suggest we do, please can you shed some light on our situation?

Oscar Paoli

17 June, 2020 5:43 pm

Hi Julie,

By applying for Residency this is stating that you intend to reside here and as this is now your main residence then you are obligated to present the Spanish Income Tax declaration each year for any world wide income you may have including rental on British property. This type of income has to be declared in the Country where the property is located and as well in Spain, Tax paid there can be deducted from any liability here under the double taxation regulations.

If if is not your intention to live here and be a resident then you should cancel the residency documents as these reflect with the Tax Residency and the Spanish Tax Office.

This is not a form of getting round BREXIT regulations.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further queries.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers

Andrew McGuirk

12 March, 2021 10:09 am


I am an Irish national and I lived in Spain from 2004 to 2012. I obtained my NIE green A4 certificate during that time and still have it. I am moving back to Spain on or after 03 July this year to ensure I spend less than 183 days in Spain during 2021.

Do I need to apply for a residence card when I return? I never heard of this card when I lived there before.

At what point do I need to register as a tax resident? I am already registered with Tributaria as I have an apartment in Madrid, which I was renting out until December 2020. I therefore paid tax on the rental income each year.

Will I have to declare any income or proceeds from sale of property outside of Spain for 2021?

Thank you

Oscar Paoli

12 March, 2021 12:20 pm

Thank your for contacting us. Unfortunately we do not deal with the application process or renewal of residence directly, but we would recommend you to speak with our relocation adviser collaborator David Ruiz. He will go through everything with you, timing, documentation and costs. If you wish to contact him directly please send him an email at

Regarding having to declare any income will depend on your residencia status.

With kind regards,

Ábaco Advisers