The Community Card
European Union citizens can freely enter, exit, travel and remain in Spain, and are not obliged to get the residence card (the European Community registration card), in order to live or stay for longer than 3 months in Spain. The residence card is not any more, as it used to be after the incorporation of Spain into the European Union, a formal requirement for EU citizens to establish their residence in Spain, although they can apply to get one if they wish to obtain it (in this case, the government employee must inform the EU citizen about the non obligation to get the card).
The temporary residence cards are issued for staying periods between3 months and 1 year, the permanent residence card is issued for 5 years, which is automatically renewable.
You must apply for your residence card in person to the foreigners’ office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or the national police station (Comisaría de Policía Nacional) with Foreigners’ department from the city where you are going to live.
You will be required to present the following documentation:
- Your passport valid for at least six months.
- Three photographs of the correct size.
- Medical certificate, when required.
- Proof of family relationship, when applying for reuniting family members.
- Proof of your financial support while you are in Spain, your pension, or copy of your work contract if you are going to work in Spain as employee, or documented proof that you meet the necessary requirements to work on your own account, when you are going to work in Spain as self employed.
You should carry your residence card with you at all times as it constitutes a mandatory identity card for foreign residents in Spain.
The Residence permit for non-EU foreigners
The non EU-foreigners need the residence permit to inhabit in Spanish territory. To enter the Spanish territory the foreigner would be required to show his valid passport and the corresponding visa
After a period of time exceeding 90 days, in order to remain in Spain it is necessary to obtain either an extension or a residence permit.
There are different types of residence permits:
- Temporary residence permit: It allows you to remain in Spain for a period of time between 90 days and 5 years, your residence permit may be renewed up after that limit.
- Permanent residency permit: It is available to all foreigners who have held a normal residence permit for a continuous period of 5 years, it should be renewed every 5 years.
- Residency permit for special circumstances such as for non-EU foreigners «moved considered»; for non EU-foreigners whose asylum application had been rejected and whom the Spanish Ministry of Interior had authorised them remaining in Spain…
- Residency permit for reuniting families: this permit entitles the non-EU foreigner residing in Spain to apply for the Spanish residence of his closest family. The applicant shall have been legally residing in Spain for at least 1 year and he must have authorization for another year residing in Spain.
The residency permits applications shall be made in person to the Foreigners’ Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or to the National Police Station with a foreigners’ department nearest the city or town where you are going to live, you will be required to present some documentation depending on the type of residence permit applied.
You must present the following documentation:
- Valid passport.
- Residence visa in force.
- Proof of previous legal residence of the foreigner in Spain e.g. a long-term rental contract or receipts for rent;
- Certificate of criminal record issued by the authorities of the foreigner’s home country.
- Some passport-size photographs.
- Medical certificate (certificado medico), in the cases that the applicant had not presented it when obtained his visa residence.
- Proof of financial income to support you during the period of residence in Spain, such as pensions, work salaries…
- Proof that your health assistance is guaranteed during your residence in Spain.
- Marriage or divorce certificate or other papers relating to your marital status, plus a Spanish translation will be required when applying for reuniting your family.
- Renewals of residency permits are available, provided that neither personal nor economic situations of the non-EU foreigner have changed, these shall be made at least a month before the residence permit has expired, otherwise the foreigner could be fined.
Residence permits are issued by the Spanish Ministry of the Interior (Ministerio del Interior). You should carry your residence card with you at all times as it constitutes a mandatory identity card for foreign residents in Spain, it shows your fiscal registration number (NIE).
These are only general guidelines and not definitive statements of the law, all questions about the law’s applications to individual cases shall be directed to a Spanish Lawyer.