If you are from an English-speaking country, in some cases, it is much easier to arrive in Spain under your visa-free status and apply for Spanish residency than it is to go through the complicated process of organising visas and residency before you leave your country of origin.
Although most official websites will tell you that if you intend to stay in Spain longer than 90 days, you should organize all of this from home, in practise this isn’t always so. If you are white, English-speaking and causing no trouble, it is easy to get your residency permit once you are in Spain (relatively easy that is, Spanish bureaucracy is notoriously painful).
The process is most efficient in this order:
- Get your Certificado de Padroniment (see our Registration section).
- Register with Social Security to obtain your Tarjeta de Medico (this is a medical card that entitles you to free emergency healthcare). Your local Town Hall will tell you which department houses Social Security. You can do this the same day you get your Certificado.
- Get your NIE (This is not necessary if you are an EU citizen as it will automatically be part of the residency process for you).
- Apply for Residency
Getting your NIE (Número de Identidad/Identificación de Extranjero)
This is your identification number in Spain. The immigration service issues this to you once you obtain residency (you will find the number on your Resident Card), but you can get this number prior to Residency Application. Do this – it seems to make the residency application process smoother. You need an NIE to file taxes, buy a house, get a contract for phone, internet and mobiles, establish a business, get a Spanish driver´s license, sign a lease and for almost any other form you fill out.
It should be noted that a European Union (EU) citizen that is applying for a certificate of residence will also be issued their NIE number at the same time.
You can download the application form here.
How to fill out the NIE application form:
- DATOS PERSONALES – PERSONAL DETAILS
- 1er Apellido Surname
- 2er Apellido 2nd Surname
- Nombre First name
- Fecha de Nacimiento Date of Birth
- Format DD/MM/YYYY
- Lugar de nacimiento Place of Birth
- Sexo Gender
- “H” for Male (Hombre) and “M” Female (Mujer)
- Estado Civil: Marital Status
- S for single C for married. V for widow and D for divorced
- País de nacimiento Country of Birth
- País de nacionalidad Current Nationality
- Nombre del Padre Father’s Name
- Nombre de la Madre Mother’s Name
- Domicilio en España Address in Spain
- Localidad Town
- CP Post Code
- Provincia Province
REASONS FOR APPLICATION – Economic, Professional or Social
(Tick professional for work reasons or social for house purchase)
DOMICILIO A EFECTOS DE NOTIFICACIONES – Leave this blank until your appointment
Sign the form at the bottom, under ‘firma de solicitante’.
What to do with the form once you have filled it in:
Take it to any Foreigners Office (oficina de extranjeros). You can find their locations here.
Also take the following with you:
- Proof of address (a lease, purchase documents, or your Certificado de Padroniment – see Registration).
- Photo ID (identity card of some type or original passport)
- Two photocopies of your application form, three photocopies of your ID and two photocopies of your Proof of Address
- Two passport photographs
Get there early. In busier centers, they will only serve the first sixty people who arrive and there are often queues long before the doors open.
You can submit your forms but you will also need to show proof of payment for the process. This will cost around €7, but cannot be paid at the Oficina. Instead, you will have to leave to go to the bank that accepts these payments and then return. Most people find it easier to do this another day, but you might be lucky and be able to get back into the queue before the tickets run out.
Your NIE will take up to 4 weeks to arrive (they won´t call you, so keep checking) but occasionally it will be issued on the spot. It´s a lottery.
Try to begin this process within a month of arriving in Spain. Or at least make it look like you only arrived a month ago (especially easy if you have only recently got your Certificado and Social Security card).
For EU Citizens
EU Citizens are not required to get their Residency card, but it will make life a lot easier for tax purposes and other daily administrative tasks.
For you lucky folk, it´s a simple process:
Download form EX 16, fill it out, and sign it. http://www.mir.es/SGACAVT/modelos/extranjeria/modelos_extranje/ex_16.pdf
Make an appointment with the nearest Oficina de Extranjeros by phone (if you can!) or in person (make sure to get there very early). Take this opportunity to ask for a form called Modelo 790. You’ll then have to go to a bank to pay the bank fee and have the form stamped for confirmation.
Bring your passport, the EX 16 form, and the stamped Modelo 790 to your appointment. A Modelo 790 is an official bank form saying you have paid the €7 application fee. The people at the counter of the Oficina de Extranjeros will step you through this part.
Hand your forms over when the Spanish civil servant asks for them.
Take your new registration certificate home with you.
For non-EU Citizens
This is somewhat more difficult for non-EU citizens, but still much easier than applying for visas (especially working visas).
As well as the application form and ID, you will need:
- Proof of financial means; a job offer, proof of savings, regular freelancing or dividend income of around €1,000 per month (plus €200 for each dependent)
- Certificado de antecedentes penales showing you have no criminal record; This one is optional – if you have a trustworthy face, you won´t be asked for it. Again, it´s a lottery, but this certificate can be a hassle to get, especially if it is required from your home country, so it´s usually better to try your luck without it. The worst that can happen is you will have to come back another day.
- Medical certificate; from any Spanish doctor or, as above, take the risk that you won´t be asked for it.
- Medical insurance with a company which has offices in Spain; this is why you registered with Social Security – your medical is covered.
- Passport plus photocopy; actually, take three photocopies. Of everything.
- Three passport-size photos;
- Proof payment of fee.
- Proof of address; a lease, purchase documents or your Certificado de Padroniment (see Registration).
- Completed application form.
Your residency card can take from a day to six months to come through. It will be posted to you, although this varies so ask more than once (and then keep calling back).