Residencia - Applying For Residency In Spain Expat Tips

Updated: 11/08/2020

How To Get Permanent Residency In Spain

Moving to another country takes a lot of organising and unfortunately, even once you’ve made the move, the list of things you need to do continues. Moving to Spain is no different. You’ve got to sort out a bank account, get an NIE number, register with a doctor and get your children into school (if you have any), the list goes on. These are things that we know we have to do, but what about the things we are unsure of? One example is getting permanent residency in Spain or ‘Residencia’.

Many foreigners in Spain don’t bother applying for this, but the Spanish law says that if you have lived in Spain for more than three months (90 days) and plan on living in the country for more than 183 days per year, you have to apply for permanent Spanish residency.

Before 2007, foreigners living in Spain for more than six months had to apply for the foreign EU Residence Card (Residencia). However, this all changed with the new Royal Decree of 16th February 2007, which states that foreign residents from EU countries that have lived in Spain for more than 90 days must apply for the new Resident Certificate (Certificado de Residente). To get this, you have to be entered into the Central Register for Foreign Nationals or Registro Central de Extranjeros.

Residency Process In Spain After Brexit

The future rights of British citizens living in Spain has been on hold due to the Brexit referendum, however as the UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020, the Spanish residency process has now become somewhat clearer.

There will now be a transition period which will begin on 1 February and end on 31 December 2020.

Once the transition period begins, those who were resident in Spain prior to 31 January 2020, will be able to replace their existing ID with a definitive residence document, which will be a foreigners identity card or ‘third-country’ ID card commonly referred to as a TIE (Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros). These will replace the existing A4 green residency certificates, permits and cards. 

However, it is important to note that if you already have a green residency certificate (A4 size or credit card size), it is not compulsory to change this to the new TIE card. Both documents will be valid and demonstrate to the Spanish authorities your residency status and rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you arrive in Spain during the transition period, a TIE card will be issued to you directly, however, the British Embassy has said that if you do receive an older style green certificate/card this will still be a valid residency document. Which form you are issued with, may depend on where you are in the country and at what stage in the transition period you register. From July 6, 2020, all new residency documents will be in the form of the new TIE card.

The TIE will be a biometric card and will prove your eligibility to benefit from the rights included under the Withdrawal Agreement. The card will also mean your status will be that of a legally resident ‘third-country’ national.

Included on this new Resident Certificate/TIE is the date of registration, the holder's name, address, nationality and NIE number - Nùmero de Identificaciòn de Extranjero (tax identification number for foreigners). This all certifies that you are resident in Spain.

Also with the previous EU Residence Card, foreigners NIE numbers had to be applied for separately. But not any longer, as with the new Resident Certificate/TIE, the NIE is now automatically included unless you have already been issued with one.

How to Apply for Permanent Residency in Spain 2020

So how do you apply for residency?

Thankfully the new system with the certificate is much simpler. All you need to do is take your NIE number (if you already have one), applicants passport (the original and one photocopy), your original census certificate (The empdronamiento certificate can be obtained from your local Ayuntamiento/Townhall), two passport size photos, application form EX18 and your application fee (€21.44) to the foreigner's department (Oficina de Extranjeros) of your local police station.

If you do not have an NIE number, you will be issued with one when applying for residencia.

Before you go to the foreigner's department, you will need to make an appointment online at

You will need to go to the following page and select your region. Then select 'Policia-Certificados UE (Exclusivamente para Reino Unido)' from the next option.

For a full list of the documents you may or may not need to produce at your residency appointment, see the following pages. (Spanish) (English)

Proof of Income for Spanish Residency

In order to obtain residencia in Spain, you will need to have a sufficient level of income and indicate that you will not become a financial burden to the state.

There is a lot of incorrect information on the web on how much is required and this probably comes from the fact that there is no actual set amount.

Frustratingly, it may even depend on which part of the country you are in or even the official you deal with!

The British Embassy in Spain recently sought to clarify the situation via their Facebook page and clear up what has become an ambiguous question from those seeking to become full-time residents in Spain.

Under EU and Spanish law, there is no set amount that you must have deposited in your bank account. Instead, officials dealing with your residency application will look at a set of indicators to ascertain whether you are eligible or not.

The indicators are IPREM (Indicador Público de Rentas de Efectos Múltiples) Visit for further information.

Also, the Annual Income Index which is used for accessing social benefits here in Spain and the minimum state pension from the Seguridad Social. Further details can be found here

It is not uncommon for UK nationals to be asked to demonstrate different levels of income depending on which region they are looking to reside in. However, the authorities prefer to see a regular income rather than a lump sum, which gives them the assurance that you will not be dependent on the state.

The two pages above should give you a good idea of how much is required as proof of income.

The IPREM page suggests that €537,84 per month for each individual should be enough, but the figure could well be higher.

The Seguridad Social page suggests that a minimum of around €800 per month per couple should be enough.

According to the Seguridad Social page and looking at comments from other British nationals on the British Embassy page, some have been asked to prove a pension income of €12,000 per annum for a couple and around €9,000 per annum for an individual.

The Citizens Advice Bureau in Spain suggests the following.

  • Individual. 5.538,40 euros

With families.

  • 2 members 9.415,28 euros
  • 3 members. 13.292,16 euros
  • 4 members. 17,169,04 euros

More info from CAB here.

If you want to find out a more precise figure, the British Embassy recommends that you contact your local extranjeria foreigners department to find out.

It has also been suggested that one of the quickest ways of getting residencia and bypassing any problems on income levels is to register as self-employed autonomo.

This would make sense as you would have to automatically pay around €275.00 per month which covers your social security benefits. Further info on becoming self-employed in Spain can be found here.

It is not known how much it will be from January 2021, however, it is assumed that the amounts will not change.

You may also need to complete form 790 which you will need to be signed by your bank. The form will detail your bank account details and the amount of money you currently have deposited with them. Form 790 can be obtained from the foreigner's department of your local police station or here.

Proof of Private Health Insurance

If you are under pensionable age you will need to show proof of a private health insurance policy (without excesses), which we at Health Plan Spain can provide you with. The most popular plan for these purposes is our Sanitas Mas Salud plan.

Applying for the Residents Certificate MUST be done in person you CANNOT send somebody else in your place!

The certificate will be issued immediately and is valid indefinitely IF all the paperwork is in order. Once registered you will be placed on the “Foreigners Register” or Registro Central de Extranjeros. If you were to get married, divorced, or change your address (basically if your circumstances change in any way) you would need to go through the whole process again and complete a new EX18 form.

As your residential rights also extend to your immediate family including your spouse via marriage, civil partner, children and your parents, you are also eligible to apply for a family residency certificate. You will need to complete form EX19 and take this along to your local police stations foreigners department. You will need to provide three colour passport photos and a valid passport for each applicant. A Tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar will then be issued.

You can download a copy of the EX18 and EX19 residency forms here.

Do I need to be on the Padron?

Being registered on your Town Hall's Padron (Empadronamiento) is not a strict requirement, however, it is advisable to present proof of this along with other documents when applying as you may be asked for it. Further details can be found on our Empadronamiento page.

Once you have been resident for five years or more, you are eligible to apply for a certificate of permanent residence or Residente Permanente.

What happens to my residency status if I want to leave Spain at any point?

The British Embassy in Spain clarified this in a recent post on their Facebook page.

Many people are concerned as to whether they will lose their residency rights and status under the Withdrawal Agreement if they are away from Spain for a period of time.

If you are have been legally resident in Spain for less than five years, your residency status MAY be affected if you are absent from the country for six months or more than one year at a time. However, there are some exemptions to this where one absence of up to 12 months MAY be permitted for reasons such as to study abroad, childbirth, serious illness etc.

Once you have been a permanent resident in Spain for five years or more, the Withdrawal Agreement specifies that you will only lose your status as a resident in Spain if you are away for more than five consecutive years.

Further information on acquiring Spanish residency can be found via the UK government website at

Image courtesy of Andreas Rueda on Flickr.