With its amazing landscapes, its gastronomy, its unbeatable climate and its lifestyle, Spain is a great place to live. In a place like Torrevieja, where we enjoy more than 3000 hours of sunshine a year, and we have some of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches on the Costa Blanca, it’s not odd that approximately 40% of the population is made up of foreigners. If you are one of the foreigners who come to live near our coasts every year, in this article we will talk about the steps that must be taken to obtain a residence permit in Spain, so read on!
This is the third article in our special for foreigners and non-residents. If you haven’t read them already, we recommend that you take a look at the 2019 guide for foreigners who want to buy a house in Spain, and also this article about the taxes paid by a non-resident who has a house in Spain.
What is the residence permit in Spain?
The Spanish residence permit is a document that provides legal permission to reside in Spain, either short term or permanently. For residents of the European Union, it’s a green card with personal details and no photo. For non-residents of the European Union, it’s a blue and pink card that holds personal details and also a photograph.
It can be obtained either at the police station (although not all police stations are equipped to issue the permit, so it’s better to ask) or at the Spanish embassy in the petitioner’s country of origin. It can be requested either in person, or through an authorized person with a power of attorney.
The residence permit and the NIE are not the same. The NIE is a necessary document for many legal procedures, but it doesn’t allow you to renew your driver’s license or obtain a health card. For that, the residence permit is needed. In addition, the residence permit is mandatory for anyone who stays more than 90 days in Spain.
First, we recommend asking the people in charge of the office before beginning the process, since not all police stations request the same documents. That said, there are several documents that one should have on hand before starting the process, as they will be necessary almost always. These are:
- Original passport with a photocopy.
- Two passport photos.
- The NIE number.
- A “certificado de empadronamiento” (certificate of registration in a Spanish city) made in the last 90 days.
- Evidence of the economic means to stay in the country.
- The Ex18 form for registration in the Central Registry of Foreigners (only valid for EU citizens).
- Form 790 to pay the € 12 fee (in 2019) at any Spanish bank.
Certificates of marriage, birth, etc., officially translated into Spanish may also be required.
Lastly, it’s necessary to obtain an online appointment to request the residence card in Spain.
Can I get residence in Spain by buying a house?
It is possible to obtain a special visa for citizens from outside the European Union who want to live in Spain, through the purchase of a property in the Spanish territory.
This visa, known as the Golden Visa, is intended for investors who buy a property with a value exceeding € 500,000 free of charges. It allows its holder to work and live legally in Spain, and it is relatively simple to obtain, since it’s not necessary for the applicant to pick it up physically in Spain, being able to designate a representative.
In order to obtain the Golden Visa it isn’t necessary to reside in Spain; all that is requested is that the applicant travels to the country once a year. In addition, it allows freedom of movement in the Schengen area, and it’s a very good option for families who want to move to Spain, since it allows the investor to apply for the residence permit of their spouse and children.
The Golden Visa is valid for one year. After that, it’s possible to apply for a residence permit that lasts two years and is renewable.
It’s possible to obtain a permanent residence permit in Spain when one has lived in Spain continuously and legally for five years. This residence permit is valid for five years, renewable, and allows the holder to live and work in Spain.
In addition, it allows those who have it to be out of Spain for 6 months without any legal problem.
Permanent residence and Spanish nationality are different; to obtain the second one, the applicant will lose their previous nationality (with some exceptions), and it is also necessary to have lived in Spain for 10 years.
When obtaining a residence permit in Spain, it is advisable to have the help of a legal professional, since the applicant’s tax status can change. In Inmokea we have a legal department specialized in this type of procedure, so that buying a house in Torrevieja is as easy as possible.
It is important to note that, in the case of the green card (for EU members), the permit isn’t a valid identification, just like the NIE. For all legal procedures, it’s best to bring the passport.