Spain Explained

What is the Spanish residency permit and how to get it?

If you are living in Spain, one of the most important documents you will need is a Spanish residency permit. Applying for residency is compulsory if you intend to spend more than three months in the country and is essential for various administrative processes. For example, If you are a pensioner, you will need a residency permit to register with the Spanish public health service. Equally, obtaining your Spanish residency permit will regularise your fiscal status in Spain.

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However, the application procedure varies depending on various factors. These include whether you are a European Union or non-European Union citizen; your employment status; and the region within which you live. In this article, we outline the basic procedure so you can prepare for your application.

Why do I need to get a residency permit?

Some people, particularly EU citizens, maybe a little confused by this layer of Spanish bureaucracy, as they did not have to obtain a visa to live in Spain. However, it is very important to ensure you have full legal status in the country. Primarily, your residency permit ensures you are paying the correct taxes, which are compulsory if you reside in the country more than 183 days per year. 

It also allows you to register a business, find a job, buy or sell a vehicle or property, and obtain a Spanish driver’s licence. It is also essential if you are retired and want to have your healthcare covered by Spanish social security. Having full, regularised residency can also ensure you can take advantage of certain tax breaks and benefits.

How do I get a Spanish residency permit?

As introduced, there are various factors that will affect your residency permit application. Primarily, this will depend on whether or not you are an EU or EEA (Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, or Norway) citizen. If you are not a citizen of an EU or EEA country, you will need a visa before applying for your residency permit, unless you are married to an EU citizen.

To apply for your Spanish residency permit, you will need to attend a local National Police station with a foreign affairs department or an immigration office. Unlike the Número de identidad de extranjero (NIE) number, you cannot apply for Spanish residency at a consulate or embassy. Equally, this process cannot be performed by power of attorney. You must be physically present at the police station or immigration office.

The information you will need to provide will depend on your working status. For instance, if you are a pensioner, you are likely to need proof of your financial means. Equally, if you intend to work in Spain, you will need evidence of your working record. The exact requirement will depend on the region and can include marriage certificates, birth certificates, or diplomas, often officially translated and apostilled. We strongly recommend seeking expert advice while preparing your documents.

However, every residency permit application requires a padrón, which is official proof of address issued by the town hall. You can read our guide to obtaining your padrón here.

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Seek professional, local advise

The process for applying for your Spanish residency permit will depend on your personal circumstances. At Ábaco Advisers, we have been guiding our clients through administrative processes in Spain for twenty years. If you would like to consult with one of our experts, fill out this form and we will contact you at a time that is convenient for you. We look forward to assisting you.

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