If you want to relocate to Spain permanently, it’s important that you understand how to get Spanish residency.
After all, if you’re going to invest in property, it’s essential that your affairs are in order. For instance, if you live in Spain for 183 days a year, then you’re classed as a resident. Many expat forums will have you believe that the rules are more flexible than they really are; however, if you live in the country for a cumulative total of 183 days (so it doesn’t matter if the days are consecutive or not) you’re liable to pay Spanish tax. In this article, Paloma Paris from our conveyancing department explains applying for Spanish residency for members of the EU.
The things you need to get full residency
If you’ve made the decision to come and live permanently in Spain, you must legally make it your home. The Spanish government’s definition of ‘permanent’ is if you’re in the country for a total of 183 days per year. If you are, then you are classed as being a tax resident of Spain. There are three important items you will want to secure if you wish to live in Spain on a permanent basis:
- Residencia, or Spanish residency card
- SIP (health card)
The exact requirements for each of these will depend on the region in which you wish to live, as well as your own status. For example, depending on whether you are a pensioner, an early retiree or if you are working in Spain, there will be slightly different documents needed. However, the information below gives a general guide to what you will require at each step in the process.
A key component of how to get residency is getting your Spanish residency card (or residencia). This is the document that officially registers you as living in Spain. It is issued at the appropriate Foreigner’s Office or police station depending on where you live. In many areas, you need to obtain your residencia before applying for your padrón, but this does vary. You can usually obtain your residencia on the same day that you apply, providing you have all the necessary paperwork. What this consists of varies from region to region, so always check beforehand. However, usually, this consists of:
- NIE, or your foreigner’s tax number
- Your S1 form if you are a pensioner or proof of Spanish health insurance if not
- Proof of fee payment for the residencia application (paid at any Spanish bank)
- The completed residency application form
- Two passport size photos
- Proof of income
The recommendation is to always bring the original and a copy of each document in the list above.
You must be able to demonstrate that your life in Spain is financially sustainable. You will be expected to show bank statements that cover the previous three months and that you have a monthly income of above €800 per person. If you have come to Spain to work then your employer should provide you with un certificado de vida laboral – which is proof that you have work here.
If you are under pensionable age, then you must have proof of Spanish health insurance if you are not going to work. The insurance must be fully comprehensive and you may also need to show proof of payment. However, there are local health schemes in many parts of Spain that might be an alternative. The convenio especial enables you to pay into the National Health System on a monthly basis. However, you need to have been resident here for a continuous year to be eligible. The convenio especial does not cover the cost of prescriptions, health transport services or health cover when in another EU country.
There has been some confusion recently about the length of time a residencia applies. If you are a member of an EU country then your residencia does not need to be renewed. If you are not, then renewal is every five years.
The padrón is the certificate that enables you to apply for a SIP (health card) and other local benefits within your town, such as enrolling your child in a local school, obtaining a bus pass, or using the local library. To obtain your three-monthly certificate you need to register, which you can do this at a town hall office. You will need to take with you:
- Proof of where you live e.g. a rental contract or title deed
- Residencia, if your region requires that you apply for this first
- Your most recent water bill and electricity bill (now asked for by some town halls)
Once you are registered, the certificate is valid for three months. After this period, you can return to the same office with your passport and previous padrón and they’ll issue a new one. You should renew your padrón at least every five years in order to ensure that your name is kept on the register. Town halls may contact people who have not had their certificate reissued for years and ask them to reaffirm their presence in the area. This is a quick process and helps them to confirm who exactly is living in the town.
With your residencia and padrón you are now able to apply for your SIP card. This is the health card which will entitle you to health treatment and discounted prescription charges as part of the national health service in Spain. In order to obtain this very important little card, you need to book an appointment at your local social security office. There you will need to show:
- Your NIE and Spanish residency card
- S1 if you are a pensioner
- Application form TA1
Remember to bring the original and a copy just in case. Once you present your documentation, they will then give you a registration number. With this, you can go to your local health clinic and obtain the SIP card itself.
How to get Spanish residency: A simpler process than you might think
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. Once you have your residencia, padrón and SIP, you will have acquired the basic documents you need to legally live as a resident in Spain. With advice from Ábaco Advisers, you can ensure the process is as painless as possible. Plus, the sooner you have these in your possession, the sooner you can relax and enjoy the new life you’ve chosen.