Residencia - Applying For Residency In Spain Expat Tips

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 ‘Residencia’.

Many foreigners in Spain don’t bother getting 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 it.

The future rights of British citizens living in Spain and the EU is still on hold due to the Brexit referendum and we won't fully know for sure until the UK leaves the EU on the 29th of March 2019. Until that time, if you plan on being permanently resident in Spain, it is highly advisable that you  register yourself with the authorities here by getting your residence certificate (see below) and registering yourself on the padron at your local townhall. This is also the advice of the British Consulate here in Spain.

Although there are no guarantees, doing so will provide you with a certain degree of protection once the UK leaves the EU. It may also be a lot more difficult to get your residency certificate after the 29th of March.

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.

If you are an EU citizen that already has the original EU Residence Card, you don’t need to apply for the new certificate until your present card expires.

Included on this new Resident Certificate are the date of registration, the holders 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 this is now automatically included.

How to Get Residency in Spain 2019/20

So how do you apply for the Certificado de Residente (Resident Certificate)?

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 (€10.60) to the foreigners 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 foreigners department, you will need to make an appointment online at

You will need to select your region and then select 'Certificados UE' from the next option.

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

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 foreigners department of your local police station or here.

Under new residency requirements, you must also prove that you have a sufficient income level of above €800 per person per month in order to sustain your new life here. This could be in the form of an employment contract or pension (s1 form). You may need to provide your last 3 months bank statements as proof. 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 the Sanitas Mas Salud.

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.

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

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

Image courtesy of Andreas Rueda on Flickr.

Updated: 29/11/2018