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Resident’s Card in Spain

resident carrd in Spain

The residence card for Spain, often called “Tarjeta de residencia” inside the country, is the physical result of the residence request approval and the logical outcome of its official registration. This card contains all the essential information on personal identity for living in Spain. One may also need a residence card for Spain to make full use of the bank and telephone company services, among other advantages. To apply for the card, one’s current registration address in Spain is of crucial importance. If you are not a resident of one of the EU countries, your resident card will contain fingerprints and a photo in an established format. The process of residence application has been simplified considerably following the entrance of Spain to the EU in the late ‘80s. According to the procedure, one must apply for the residence card after three months of stay in the country. However, it is not necessary to extend the residence card once it is obtained, since it is issued on a permanent basis.

If you are not a EU-resident, you can anticipate several nuances when your goal is to obtain the residence card for Spain. First, you should define clearly the motives based on which you are going to apply for the residence card. There are numerous options from which to choose, although the most popular are the following: investing in the Spanish economy (including property purchase), moving to Spain with an employment contract, studying in a Spanish school, marrying a Spanish citizen, or relocating to Spain without work authorization (which is possible with sufficient monetary funds). The documents required vary for each option respectively. Second, from time to time, it will be necessary to extend the residence card in Spain. As a rule, the card is valid for one year when issued for the first time. Later, one must re-confirm that the grounds based on which the card had been issued have not changed. Upon renewal, the card is issued for two years, and after five years as a residence cardholder, one then becomes eligible to apply for the residence permit in Spain.

Residence card for Spain: how to apply

Residence card for Spain: how to apply

When learning about the Spain residence card requirements, one soon learns that there are many steps involved in the application procedure. Before anything else, however, one should take into account the applicant’s citizenship.

For EU residents, the application process looks as follows: one must request the document in person in the territory of Spain. Moreover, it is not necessary to have a visa upon first entry into the country. The only requirement is to register with the Immigrants’ Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) and apply for the residence card. The following documents are required: a valid passport or an equivalent that identifies the applicant. As of July 2012, one also must submit a financial affidavit form and a confirmation of medical insurance.

For all other applicants, the process of application for the residence card for Spain is divided into two stages, with the bul of the procedure taking part in the immigrant’s country of origin:

  • In order to confirm one’s intention to relocate to Spain (and motives to do so), one submits the application documents in the country of current residence through the Spanish consulate. When the application is approved, the consulate issues a long-term visa for one year that serves as an official confirmation of attaining the residence permit.
  • The second stage is obtaining the residence card itself, which is possible on the basis of the long-term visa already issued. Similar to the process for EU residents, within one month of arrival to Spain, the non-EU citizen must go to the Immigrants’ Office or to the local police department (Comisaría de Policía) to submit an appropriate request.

In terms of the official processing time for the residence card for Spain, there are no rigid deadlines. Rather, the processing time varies depending on the city or province and, on average, takes from 3 to 4 months.

A possible complication to keep in mind are changes in personal data (for instance, changes to one’s surname after marriage or changes of an actual place of residence in Spain). In such cases, the residence card must reflect the relevant changes and must then be reissued. However, such a procedure is not considered an extension of the residence card. If, for example, at the time of the document re-issue due to changes in personal data, there is only one month left until the expiration date, a new document will be issued with the same validity period. The same is true in the event of loss or damage of the residence card.

Residence card for Spain: which documents are required?

Residence card for Spain documents required

Below is a list of documents specified for the Spanish residence card requirements for both EU residents and all other immigrants. These documents must be submitted to the Immigrants’ Office on the day of application for the card. One may need to submit some additional documents depending on the motives of application and the circumstances for relocation to Spain.

  • Valid international passport and photocopies of all its pages
  • 2 photos in passport format taken no earlier than six months prior
  • Official application completed by the applicant (form EX18) and three copies thereof
  • Confirmation of a banking account in Spain and the presence of funds in it (form790). It is possible to receive this document in the local police department (the processing fee in 2016 was 10.6 euros)
  • Confirmation of a long-term residence accommodation in Spain or a long-term agreement of rent. In some provinces, this document is not required; therefore, it is best to clarify this point in advance.

When applying for the residence card for Spain, some of the additionally requested documents may include a medical certificate confirming the applicant’s state of health (depending on the country of origin or the place of the applicant’s last long-term residence).

In other cases, one might be asked to present the following documents:

  • If an applicant is employed, he or she may be asked to present a labor activity report (vida laboral, both in original and photocopy)
  • Freelancers and entrepreneurs also will need to submit the labor activity report, as well as originals and photocopies of all the documents issued upon registration as an entrepreneur. Sometimes, one must also present confirmation of pension deductions from his or her revenues.
  • When applying for the residence without work authorization, one must submit a financial affidavit testifying to the presence of funds sufficient to live in Spain as well as medical insurance.
  • For students, it is necessary to present the confirmation of enrollment in a Spanish school (university), confirmation of financial capacity (financial affidavit) that covers living expenses for the period of study, and medical insurance.

To extend the residence card for Spain, one must submit:

  • 2 photos in passport format
  • residence card original and copy
  • valid passport (ID) and photocopies of all its pages
  • official form completed by the applicant
  • confirmation that the motives stated earlier (when applying for the residence permit for the first time) have not changed
  • resident visa (optional)
  • medical certificate of the applicant’s state of health (optional)

If you need a consultation on any issues related to the residence card application, extension, or preparation of the required documents, contact our INEEDSpain service center. Our specialists will convert your relocation to Spain into a smooth and enjoyable experience.


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