The Expat Hub

Spanish VISAs

Depending on your nationality, you may require a residence permit/work permit/visa to live in Spain, make sure you understand your situation and organise the relevant paperwork before you go!


You might not require a visa to live in Spain, but you could become a legal resident. To do this you need to go to the nearest Oficina de Extranjeros and apply for a ‘Número de Identificación de Extranjero’ (NIE) and a ‘Tarjeta de Residencia’. These can take several months to be issued.

A Spanish identification number issued to both EU and non-EU citizens by the immigration service once residency has been obtained. A NIE is required in order to fill out the majority of official forms.

Tarjeta de Residencia

A card incorporating your personal details, NIE and a photograph/fingerprint. It is necessary to carry out certain transactions. It must be renewed every five years. Non-EU applicants are initially only granted a Residencia for one year, which can then get extended to five years.

The documentation you need to bring in order to apply for residency varies according to location. In order to get your application moving as quickly as possible make enquires before you go to the Oficina.

When your residential status needs renewing you won’t be told so make sure to take note of the date yourself.

The documentation you’ll need to produce for residency renewal can depend on your Spanish legal status, make sure to check this.


After you’ve been resident in Spain for ten years you have the right to apply for Spanish citizenship. In some cases you may have the right to apply for citizenship after one, two or five years.

Applications for citizenship can be made at the Redistro Civil. The Ministerio de Justicia is the public body in charge of the process. Technically, in order to be declared a Spanish citizen you must renounce your original nationality. In return you will get a Spanish passport, the right to vote and the right to live or work in any country of the EU.

You need to bring the following documentation if you wish to make an application:
Birth certificate.

Consular certificate stating former nationality, criminal records and military status in home country.

Certificate of Spanish criminal records.

Police certificate stating time of residency in Spain.

Registration at the Spanish town council.