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Immigration to Spain

Certificate of Residence: EU Citizens

EU citizens no longer need to apply for a EU Residence card although after six months residence in Spain you are required to obtain the new Certificate of Residency (Certificado de Residencia)which should accompany you your passport (carrying ID is obligatory).

How to apply for a Certificado de Residencia:

You can do this once again at the same Oficinas de Extranjeras and you should fill-out form EX-16 as well as pay the fee. Once again the fee needs to be paid at a bank so you will need to return with the form stamped by the bank before the application can be submitted.

Residency for Non-E.U. Citizens

Unlike the E.U. Residency, which is a basic right of all E.U. citizens, immigration to Spain for non-EU citizens is a more complicated process. Legal residence depends upon the granting of a Non-E.U. Residency Card/Work Permit which in turn depends on a series of personal and external factors and conditions. Some of these are

  • Country of Origin (some countries have bilateral agreements with Spain).
  • Blood ties.
  • Sector of work (the authorities consider first and foremost the state of unemployment in the particular sector before granting the Residency Card/Work Permit.

As with the E.U. Residency Card there are a variety of different types:

  • A) Contracted Workers
  • Type “A”: Seasonal activities or activities of a limited duration. Up to 9 months.
  • Type “b”: For a particular profession, activity or geographical area. Valid for 1 year.
  • Type “B”: For various activities or professions. Valid for 2 years.
  • Type “C”: For any activity anywhere in Spain. Valid for 3 years.
  • B) Self-Employed Workers
  • Type “d”: For a particular activity and geographical area. Valid for 1 year.
  • Type “D”: For various activities or when applicable for a particular activity and geographical are. Valid for 2 years.
  • Type “E”: For any activity anywhere in Spain. Valid for 3 years.
  • C) Contracted or Self-Employed Workers
  • Type “F”: For workers that have to return to a border area of a neighbouring country. Valid for 5 years.
  • Type “P”: Permanent Work Permit. For any activity.
  • Type “Ex”: Extraordinary Work Permit for foreigners that have contributed to the cultural or economic development of Spain. For any activity. Unlimited validity.
Requirements: Documents

The documents required may vary considerably depending on the particular permit applied for. The most common types are those for contracted workers and require the presentation of the following documents:

  • Valid Passport.
  • 6 Passport-sized photos.
  • Job offer.
  • Documents which show that the employer legally carries out its activity and that it is up-to-date with its obligations.
  • Documents which show the solvency of the employer.

Depending on your own particular circumstances (e.g. you have a blood relation with a Spaniard) more documents may be required.

Please not however that the obligation and procedures for applying for a work permit are separate and independent from those for applying for an entrance visa.

Residency Spain/NIE Number

The NIE (Spanish id number) is perhaps akin to the UK national insurance number or the Irish PRSI number and it would not be stretching the matter too far to suggest that unless you are have a number assigned to you then you more or less don’t exist. If you don’t exist you cannot receive health care, or buy anything like a car or property or start a business or get a bank account or a job or rent an apartment long term etc.

Therefore it is vital to have the NIE arranged as soon as possible. Once assigned the NIE number does not expire. However, in the past the certificate on which the number is printed did expire and needed to be renewed. This will in most case be superseded by the new rules relating to residency in Spain.

How to apply for a NIE.

To apply for a NIE you may choose to apply in the following three places:

  • Local police station (Comiseria) – though check, as not all have a Foreign Dept.
  • Office for Foreign Nationals (Oficina de Extranjeros).
  • Spanish Consulate outside Spain.

You should bring along your passport (valid of course) as well as a couple of photocopies. This, by the way, is always a good idea in Spain. Always bring a couple of photocopies of any and all documents that are necessary to carry out the procedure as it can cause you to be told to return the next day (even though nothing was mentioned about it before hand).

You will be required to fill in form EX-14 You will also have to pay a fee which is payable at a bank. So you will have to take the ‘fee form’ to the bank, pay the fee, get it stamped and return to submit the application form together with stamped proof of fee payment.

It may be that you have to face long queues and will need to arrive extremely early in the morning to be able to be processed on that day. But this will depend on the time of year and where you are making the application.

It is possible to avoid the queues and any language difficulties by hiring a local gestor.

Empadronamiento (Registry with local Council)

Another very important document to arrange is the Documento de Empadronamiento. This is a document obtained upon registering with your local council and is carried out at the local town hall or ayuntamiento. It is proof that you are resident in a local council area and will allow you to vote amongst other things such as registering with your local doctor as well as when registering a car in your name.

How to apply for the Documento de Empadronamiento.

You just simply go to your local town hall with your passport/Certificado de Residencia/NIE as well as any bill or deed that has your name on it as well as the address to which you wish to become ‘empadronado’.

So your rental agreement, deed of your house or any utility bill will all serve as proof that you reside at the address.

It is also possible in limited circumstances where the address is jointly rented and it is not possible to put the utility bills in your name, to be sponsored by the person whose name is on the utility bill.

Social Security Number

In order to work in Spain it is necessary to have a social security number. A social security number is also necessary in order to obtain a medical card and to begin making contributions that allow you to receive unemployment benefit and eventually a pension.

How to apply for a Social Security Number.

You can obtain this by filling in form TA-1 at the local Social Security Office and you will be required to bring your passport.

It used to be you would receive a small yellow card but this has been changed and you now receive a print-out immediately at the time of application.

Study in Spain - Student Visas

When considering a foreign country in which to study Spain must come out high on any analysis. But care must be taken with the legal obligations that non-EU citizens must comply with in order to avoid difficulties with the local authorities. For example, it is a legal requirement to convert the student visa to a student card complete with an ID number when the course of studies in Spain lasts longer than 6 months.

Why is it important to get a student card?

Well to begin with all Spanish and foreign citizens in Spain have an obligation to show their identity papers when requested by the competent authorities. Of course this may not happen in the normal course of events but should anything occur like a visit to the hospital following an accident or should you for any reason be crossign borders in the European Union to visit other countries and get stopped by customs then this could very quickly become an issue.

Also, reentry to Spain following a return to the country of origin for a Christmas or summer break could become very complicated if the tourist visa is no longer valid.

There are opportunities available to students to work part-time in Spain as long as certain criteria are met, for example, if the work is connected to the course and isn't necessary to support financially the stay in Spain and, of course, possession of a valid current student card. Studying in Spain for three years with a student card will give rise to the possibility of obtaining an authorisation to live and work in Spain. However, without the student card this will not be possible.

The student card is normally given a validity for the length of the course or for one year - whichever of the two is shorter. The card may then be renewed.