Healthplan Spain


Residency Options In Spain: EU Nationals And Non-EU Family Members Expat Tips

Many EU nationals residing in, or considering a move to Spain will ask the question: Can I move my non-EU family member over to Spain with me?

Well the answer is yes. EU nationals have the option to accompany non-EU family members to Spain. The primary avenue is through the application for a residence card known as "Tarjeta de Residencia de Familiar Comunitario" or "Residence Card of a Family Member of a European Union Citizen."

In this article, we will answer some of the most common inquiries regarding this process.

What is the Residence Card of a Family Member of a European Union Citizen?

This residence card permits a relative of an EU citizen to relocate and reside with them within an EU country.

Who Qualifies?

The following people qualify for the residence card:

  • Spouses of EU nationals (a valid marriage certificate is required)
  • Unmarried partners, given evidence of a longstanding, stable relationship, and cohabitation for a certain duration (typically one or two years, depending on circumstances). In Spain, this could be a "Pareja de Hecho" (registered partnership) instead of marriage.
  • Dependent children of an EU national below 21 years old (a valid birth certificate is required)
  • Dependent parents of an EU national (proof of relationship and dependency is needed)
  • Other dependent relatives (evidence is required that they cannot support themselves and rely on you financially)

It is important to note that the financial capability to support your relatives must also be proven.

What Benefits Does the Residence Card Offer?

The benefits of having a residence card include:

  • Permission for your family member to reside in Spain alongside you.
  • The right for your family member to work in Spain under conditions similar to other EU citizens.
  • Freedom to enter and exit Spain and travel within other EU countries.

However, the card only grants the right to reside in the specific EU country where it was applied for - in this case, Spain.

When Must the Application Be Submitted?

Whether you're already basking in the Spanish sun or on the brink of embracing a new life, timing is of the essence when it comes to applying for a residence card for your relatives.

The application must be filed within the initial three months of their arrival in Spain to ensure their continued residence.

What Is the Processing Time for Obtaining an EU Residency Card?

The Spanish authorities typically reach a decision on issuing the residency card to your family member within six months. While this can be quicker, it is advisable to anticipate an approximate six-month waiting period. During this time, your family member cannot be expelled from Spain while the application is under consideration.

What if the Application Gets Rejected?

In the event of a rejection, the Spanish authorities will provide written notification, along with the reason for the decision. Information about how to appeal the decision and the deadline for doing so will also be provided.

How Long Is the Card Valid?

The initial residency card has a validity of five years. Subsequently, you can renew it for a permanent 10-year residency card. Following this, renewal is necessary every 10 years.

Does Divorce Affect Spanish Residency?

If your Spanish nationality is based on your marriage to an EU national and you're concerned about your residency rights in case of divorce or separation, rest assured. Your residency card will not be lost if you've lived with your partner for at least three years, with one year spent in Spain.

Remember, while these details offer a comprehensive overview, individual circumstances might require specific guidance. Always consult official sources or legal experts for precise information tailored to your situation.

Application Process

To initiate your application for the EU Family card, you'll need to submit the specified documents at either the Immigration Office in your residing province or the local police station. This can be done by scheduling an online appointment, known as "cita previa," within three months of your arrival date. During this period, you'll be issued a temporary document as proof of your legal stay until the official card is issued.

Here's a rundown of the necessary documents:

1. Form EX-19 (2 printed copies) completed and duly signed by the non-EU family member.

2. A valid passport from the non-EU family member. If the passport has expired, include a copy and a renewal request.

3. Documentation confirming the relationship with the EU national.

If the individual from a non-EU country is employed, they can provide any of the following documents:

- A contract declaration or a certificate of employment issued by the employer. This should include the company's name, address, tax identification, and contribution account.

- An employment contract registered with the Public Service of Employment ("Servicio Público de Empleo")

- A document confirming affiliation with the Social Security system.

For self-employed third-country nationals, the following documents are accepted:

- Proof of registration in the census of economic activities.

- Evidence of registration in the Mercantile Registry.

- Document confirming affiliation with the Social Security system.

If the third-country national is not employed, the following are required:

- Either public or private insurance with coverage equivalent to that provided by Spain's National Health System.

- Evidence of sufficient economic means. The specific criteria vary depending on the application's circumstances. Generally, a consistent source of income is accepted. If necessary, the EU family member can provide the required financial means on behalf of the applicant.

The processing of the residence card by the authorities should take place within three months after submitting the application. In the event of an application rejection, the decision, along with the reasons and implications, will be communicated in writing.

Note: When submitting official documents from other countries, they must be translated into Spanish and apostilled (legalised). Additionally, any public document originating from another country should be legalised at the Spanish consular office in that country. However, standard forms issued by the EU are exempt from this requirement.


The current fee to process the application is 12 euros.

Payment form is Modelo 790/012.