Welcome to our quick starter guide to becoming a resident in Spain.
We cover the rules and regulations concerning becoming a resident of Spain from the perspective of a foreign national.
Did you know that if you spend more than three months a year in Spain, you are obliged to apply for Spanish residency!
Clearly, for expats buying property in Spain, perhaps as a second home, this is something that you perhaps did not realise!
Of course one of the main considerations is your tax status and whether becoming a Spanish resident, is beneficial to you or not.
Please do not take our advice as gospel, because new rules and regulations are constantly being introduced. Nevertheless, at the time of writing this information is correct and gives you a good indication of where you stand regarding residency.
Get as much information as you can and when you are ready to make your decision to move to Spain and become a resident, consult a lawyer (abogado) or accountant (el contador).
How do I Get Residency in Spain?
EU citizens should go to the nearest Oficina de Extranjeros (foreigners office) or failing that, to the nearest police station.
The Oficina de Extranjeros will issue you with a Residence Certificate. This certificate displays your name, address, nationality and NIE number (Número de Indentifación Extranjeros) with the date of your registration.
This is also the place to go to get your NIE number, if you haven’t got one already:
You are lost in Spain without your NIE number – Why you need an NIE…
- To open a bank account (residents account with better rates)
- To receive unemployment benefit
- To work in Spain
- To buy and sell property
- To get a loan or a mortgage
- To set up a business
- To register with social services and receive benefits
- To apply for a driver’s licence
- For tax payments.
- To open utility accounts, such as gas, water, electricity, ADSL, mobile phone contract
It is possible to apply for an NIE before arriving in Spain by going to your local Spanish consulate or embassy.
What if I Change Address?
Unfortunately you are required to renew this if you change your address at any time.
Yes another trip to the Oficina de Extranjeros!
Can I Work Legally in Spain?
If you are from an EU country then you have the right to work in Spain. You can begin to search for work and jobs immediately upon your arrival, regardless of whether you have obtained your residency certificate or not.
Obviously at the earliest opportunity, you should begin the procedure of applying for the certificate which can take some time to be issued.
Becoming a Resident of Spain – You Need to Prove You Can Support Yourself
What’s this about proving my income?
A number of readers have been asking us about this and it appears they are asking about a new law which was passed in July 2012.
Due to the economic troubles in Spain, this law has been passed whereby new residents may be asked to prove that they are able to support themselves and their family.
If you have secured official employment, in other words with a proper contract, then this will not be so much of an issue for you.
If however you do not have a job and you are applying for residency you are bound to come under scrutiny.
In recent years Spain has suffered a wave of migration from immigrants from South America and North Africa who clearly have been a burden to the social system of Spain and unfortunately many of these immigrants have significantly raised the crime levels in Spain.
In short, Spain is looking for desirable immigrants who can add to the country’s economy, not take from it.
As part of this new law you may also be asked to show proof that you are covered in case of medical treatments being required.
EU citizens are entitled to an emergency care at doctors and clinics and hospitals but that is not the case if you are a resident. In this instance you will need to have a job or be self-employed and paying into the Spanish social security system.
If you are not employed in Spain then you will be obliged to take out private health care via a private health insurance policy for Spain.
Pensioners and retirees need to prove they that they are entitled to health care paid for by the country from which they come. If you are from the United Kingdom you need to obtain the necessary forms from the International Pension Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne.
From the financial perspective, pensioners and retirees need to show that they have adequate funds for themselves and their family members while you are living in spain. Take along your bank account statements and any documents showing income that you receive from savings, capital, private pensions, shares etc.
What Documentation Do I Need?
It is simply best to bring everything possible document you have along with you as one bit of missing paperwork can result in another trip back again in lengthy queues!
Make sure you take your passport (and a photocopy of passport), three passport-sized photos, completed application form (and three copies), proof of your address in Spain and a receipt for payment of the administrative fees, stamped by a bank.
Take documentation concerning your place of residence, be it a rental property and agreement or your escritura (title deeds)from the property that you have purchased.
If you have secured employment then you will need to bring a certificate of employment or written proof that you have been hired by an employer in Spain.
If you have decided to become self-employed, you will of course need to prove this by showing that you have registered on the Censo de Actividades Economics – Registration on the Economic Activities List.
What if I am Not from an EU Country?
Again the same rules and regulations apply. If you are spending more than three months in Spain you will be required to apply for a Visado de Residencia (or Residence Visa). You should obtain this before your arrival in Spain from the Spanish Embassy in your country of residence.
If you are able to successfully apply for your residency certificate then you will be entitled to the same rights as a person from an EU country.
The residence visa is different to the three-month tourist visa. Naturally many people from countries such as America or Australia come to Spain for a short duration in order to travel and perhaps work for a short time.
The difference here is that you intend is to permanently reside in Spain. Therefore this visa allows you to start your application for a residence permit/card.
You need to go to the nearest Oficina de Extranjeros or police station with your documentation as previously listed above.
As a non-EU citizen, your residence card that you will be issued is valid for one year. It can then be renewed annually for up to five years.
NIE Numbers Spain
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Type of Business: NIE Number Experts
Towns or Areas Covered: All Spain
Discount NIE Number service
FAST NIE Number
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Have you just moved to Spain and Need a NIE Number?
What is a NIE Number and why do I need one?
A NIE Number is a unique code given to you but the Spanish authority’s. Its used to track your financial and tax transactions in Spain.
How Can I get a NIE Number?
Using our simple discount budget service we charge an administration fee of £29.99 + IVA. This is to book your Cita Previa appointment and complete all your paperwork. All you need to do is turn up at the police station with the paperwork we provide you to collect your NIE Number.
About the Author
Main author and owner of SpainMadeSimple.com which was started in 2004 when I first moved to Spain.
Spain Made Simple features expert advice on all aspects of moving to and living in Spain as well as useful tourist information and travel tips.
As well as my own articles we have many contributions from professionally qualified experts in varied occupations in Spain.
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