Residence and visas

Frequently asked questions about Residence and visas

As a Briton, how do I apply for Spanish residency if I want to live in Spain?

British citizens living in Spain who were residents prior to 1 January 2021 will need to register as a resident, by applying to the local immigration office or Oficina de Extranjeros. Once a residency application has been approved, an application needs to be made to the national police for a Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero, a biometric card confirming your right to reside in Spain, under the terms of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. Each family member will need to do this, with everyone obtaining their own residence card. An application should be made by 30 June 2021.

More details of the process and documentation that will be required by the Spanish authorities is available on the UK government website.

Who can qualify for a Spanish non-lucrative visa?

This visa is aimed at those wishing to live in Spain without working and who can provide evidence showing that they are able to support themselves. This is the type of visa that is often used by people who wish to retire to Spain, as well as those wishing to study there. This visa is also a good option for those who intend to live in Spain with a passive income (e.g. pensions, rents or dividends).

If I don’t have a visa or residence card, can I still travel or visit Spain?

Yes, this is known as a short-term visit. Spain allows visitors to stay up to 90 days (consecutive or not) within any 180-day period without the need for a visa. The purpose of this is to allow holiday visits, to see family or friends, to deal with business affairs, to attend training or short-term study courses or to attend cultural events.

In other words, you can visit Spain for a maximum of 3 months (90 days) within a period of 6 months (180 days) and the days do not need to be consecutive to count towards the total. 

The time limit applies to the whole Schengen zone, which is a total of 26 European countries, comprising of most EU member states plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. That means that the time spent in any of these other countries will also count towards the permissible 90 days.

An overstay is likely to be automatically recorded and could result in a fine, deportation or a possible temporary ban on entering the Schengen zone, including Spain.

For information about the tax implications of staying in Spain for more than half the year, see our article on Spanish authorities’ checks on residency status.

For those wishing to spend more than 90 days in Spain, a visa is necessary. There are a variety available, depending on the purpose of the visit, including a golden visa, non-lucrative visa, entrepreneur visa and a student or work visa.

What rules apply to British expats who want to live, retire, or work in Spain after Brexit?

Now that Britain is outside of the EU, Britons are generally subject to the same rules as all other non-EU overseas citizens. This means that while short visits are permitted, there are strict limits to the length of time that can be spent in Spain without a visa.

At the border, there could be a requirement to show a return ticket and demonstrate that you have sufficient money for your stay; your passport will also need to have more than six months remaining before it is due for renewal and visits lasting more than 90 days will require a visa.

Can I keep living in Spain after Brexit?

For those already living in an EU country prior to 1 January 2021, there is the right under the European Union Withdrawal Act to continue living there. Britain and Spain have mutually agreed that their citizens can stay living in each other’s countries post-Brexit, however, it is important that the correct application process be undertaken to obtain legal permission.

The Spanish government has produced a document giving more information about residency post-Brexit.

What does Brexit mean for Britons wishing to move to Spain?

The right to live, work and move freely within the EU is only available to EU members. On 31 December 2020, the Brexit transition period came to an end, and British citizens no longer have the freedom to live and work in Spain, a benefit that came with being an EU citizen.

The new post-Brexit rules mean that Britons wishing to relocate to Spain now need to apply for a visa in a similar way to non-Europeans wishing to relocate there.

Where do I request the Golden Visa?

One of the great advantages that the Golden Visa presents is that, in addition to having the option to submit the application at the Spanish Consulate in the country of origin or residence, it also gives you the option of submitting the application online from Spain. This is an exception to the general immigration regime.

In both cases, the application will be reviewed in last instance by the Large Business Unit and Strategic Groups in Spain (UGE by its acronym in Spanish).

The visa will be processed at the Spanish Consulate in the country of origin or residence. On the other hand, the residence permit will be processed at the Unit for Large Companies-Strategic Groups.

What documents or requirements are requested?

 *visa form and payment of the visa fee.

* valid passport. 

* Public or private health insurance arranged with an entity that operates in Spain. 

* Criminal record. 

* Accreditation of sufficient economic means for the main applicant and for the members of his/her family during the period of residence in Spain.

* Means of proving the investment.

Does the golden visa authorize me to work in Spain?

Yes. The Golden Visa authorizes you to live and work in Spain. This results from the Fourth Additional Provision of the Law, which states a single proceeding to request a permit authorizing to live and work.

What are the types of Golden Visa in Spain?

The law distinguishes two big groups. The capital investments (in public debt, social shares of Spanish companies, bank deposits in Spanish financial entities and through the acquisition of real estate assets) and other kind of investments (creation of a company of general interest, high qualified professionals and transactions within the same company).

How long can I stay in Spain with my Golden Visa?

The residence visa for investors authorizes the holder to stay in Spain for one year. Once this period has expired, a residence authorization can be requested for a period of two years, renewable for two more years if you prove the maintenance of the investment.

Who is considered a family member with the effects of the visa application of the investor?

Spouses, children under 18 or children of legal age who are unable to support themselves because of their health status will be considered family members.

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