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 - 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 Spanish law says that if you plan on living in Spain for more than three months (90 days), 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 living 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 For Non-EU and EEA Citizens (Including UK Nationals)
British citizens living in Spain before the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, were assured of their residency rights under the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement.
The existing old-style A4 green certificates are still valid and continue to demonstrate that you are legally resident in Spain. However, you are now being encouraged to exchange these for the new biometric TIE card.
From 2021 onwards, any UK nationals arriving in Spain and wishing to reside here permanently will now have to follow the same path as those from outside of the EU and EEA and obtain one of the permanent residency visas.
You can find out more about these via our Spanish residency visas page.
Residency Process For EU and EEA Nationals 2023
If you are an EU or EEA (European Economic Area) citizen, you and your family automatically have the right to live or work in Spain.
If you are visiting for no more than 90 days you won’t need to apply for any additional Spanish documentation unless you plan on studying, working or purchasing a property during this time. If this is the case you will also need to apply for your NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros).
If you plan on staying for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for your permanent Spanish residency certificate which now comes in the form of a credit card-sized document.
In Spain, the issuing of immigration documents is the remit of the National Police or ‘Cuerpo Nacional de Policía’. The immigration department is commonly referred to as the ‘Oficina de Extranjería’.
Below we outline the three key steps you will need to undertake to get your residency certificate.
Please remember that the process below is for EU/EEA nationals. Those from the UK and outside of the EU/EEA will need to apply for an appropriate residency visa.
STEP 1 - Find somewhere to live
To be issued your residency card, you will need to demonstrate proof that you have a permanent address here in Spain.
In most cases, this will be either proof that you own your own property in the form of a property deed (Nota Simple) or a rental contract. If renting, you are advised to have a contract of at least 11 months.
STEP 2 - Register yourself and your family members at the Town Hall (Empadronamiento)
The second step is to register yourself and each of your family members at the Town Hall. This is commonly referred to as ‘Empadronamiento’ in Spanish which means you will be placed on the ‘Padrón’ or Municipal Register. This is the equivalent of the electoral roll in the UK and other countries.
You will simply need to complete the form, detailing where you live and give details of those who live with you.
Being registered on the Padrón allows the town hall to know how many citizens live in the municipality. Funding is then allocated to the local government via the central government. It is important that you register, as everyone within your community will benefit as a result of better services and facilities.
Once you are registered you will often be able to obtain certain discounts and reductions to sporting venues, museums and other local establishments. It will also enable you to register your children at a local school or nursery.
You will need to take the following documentation with you to the town hall:-
Once registered you will receive your certificate which is titled “Certificado de Empadronamiento”.
If you ever leave Spain, you should take a moment to notify the town hall so you can be de-registered.
You can find your nearest ayuntamiento (town hall) here.
STEP 3 - Make the residency application
Once you have found somewhere to live and have registered yourself on the Padrón, you will need to get your documentation in order so that you can make the residency application and obtain your TIE (Tarjeta de Identificación del Extranjero).
This card will demonstrate that you are legally resident in Spain and have been added to the Central Registry of Foreign Nationals or ‘Registro Central de Extranjeros’.
EX18 Application Form
One of the first things you will need to do is download and print a copy of the EX18 residency application document.
You can download this from the following official address.
Once printed, you will need to complete the form in full.
Residency Application Fees
There is a fee of €12 to process your application which will need to be paid before attending your appointment at the immigration office.
The form to complete is Modelo 790 and can be completed at the following official address online.
You will need to select the option, “Certificado de registro de residente comunitario o Tarjeta de residencia de familiar de un ciudadano de la Unión.”
Once completed, you will be able to download and print the form. This can then be taken to any bank where you will be able to make the payment.
You may also pay by entering your bank account details via the online form.
Make an Appointment Online
The final step in the process is to make the application so you can obtain your TIE residency card.
Once you have all your documentation in place and have paid the application fee, you will need to go to the following web page and make an appointment at your nearest immigration office where you will be living.
You will need to make sure you apply for your appointment within 3 months of arrival in Spain.
At your appointment, you will need to present the following documentation.
Depending on your situation, you may require other documents such as a certificate of employment, proof of registration of self-employment, and proof that you are paying social security in Spain.
Once the process is complete, you will receive your registration certificate stating the registered person's name, nationality, address, and NIE number.
Proof of Income for Non-EU Residents
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 conflicting information on the web on how much is required and this probably comes from the fact that there doesn’t seem to be an actual set amount.
Frustratingly, it may even depend on which part of the country you are in or even the official you deal with!
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 https://www.iprem.com.es for further information.
Also, the Annual Income Index is used for accessing social benefits here in Spain and the minimum state pension from the ‘Seguridad Social’. Further details can be found here https://www.seg-social.es/wps/portal/wss/internet/Pensionistas/Revalorizacion/30434?changeLanguage=es
The two pages above should give you a good idea of how much is required as proof of income.
The IPREM page suggests that €600.00 per month for each individual should be enough, but the figure could well be higher. For example, for the non-lucrative/retirement visa, the amount is four times the IPREM for the main applicant per month and 100% of the IPREM for the partner. You will also need another 100% of the IPREM for each additional member of the family.
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.
More info from CAB is here.
If you want to find out a more precise figure, you should contact your local ‘extranjeria’ foreigners department.
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 a 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.
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 Income Documentation
There are several ways to demonstrate that you have sufficient income to sustain yourself and your family while here.
This can be in the form of an income statement, proof of assets, a work contract or a bank statement that shows the last six months of income.
If you will be operating a business in Spain, a document to show your company’s operations and accounts should be sufficient.
If you are a pensioner, then a pension statement will need to be presented as proof of income.
How To Check Your Residency Application
After making your application, you can track it and learn whether you have been successful or not.
There are currently three different ways to do this; online, via SMS message or by calling an automated phone line. Please see our other article and learn how to check your Spanish residency application.
How Long Before You Lose Residency If Leaving The Country?
Once you have had your residency approved, it's important that you do not lose it! One way this can happen is if you spend too long out of the country.
The amount of time you are allowed can depend on whether you are classed as a temporary or permanent resident and also whether you are an EU or non-EU citizen.
Read our extensive article and find out how long you can be away from Spain without losing your residency status.
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.
Image courtesy of Andreas Rueda on Flickr
Updated: August 02, 2023 CET