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Living in Spain - Key Information

Spanish Residence Permit

Anyone planning to live indefinitely, study, work in Spain must apply for a Spanish residence permit within 15 days of arriving in Spain. If you have any thought that you might wish to reside in Spain, it is best to contact the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country about the requirements before traveling to Spain, as otherwise you may have to travel home again to obtain the necessary documents and correct visa.

If you are planning a short stay (on a short-term contract perhaps) then you will be issued with a temporary residence card for the period required. Children under 18 years of age can be included on the parents' residence card.

Residence cards are issued by the foreign nationals office or provincial central police where the applicant is resident. Applications must also be made in person to the nearest national police station with a foreigners department.

Contact officials to find out the exact paperwork that is required (usually accompanied by one or two copies of each).
This list for a Spanish residency permit usually includes:

Passport valid for at least six months and a photocopy of the pages. Note: If you are coming from the United States, you must get a visa of sufficient duration from the Spanish consulate before you leave the United States. The passport that allows you travel to Spain as a tourist from the US, without more, does not suffice for a residency permit.
Official papers relating to your marital status plus a Spanish translation;
Completed application forms (e.g. form 037 for EU citizens, form 120 for non-EU employed persons and form 140 for non-EU, non-employed persons);
Passport-size photographs (one for each application form);
Proof of residence, e.g. your property contract, a rental contract or receipts for rent;
Fees, which must be paid via a bank (you will be given a paying-in slip).
Medical certificate obtainable from any Spanish doctor.
Official certificate of criminal record declaring that you don't have a criminal record in your home. This can be a statement requested through your local police authorities.
Certificate of registration confirming that you are resident in Spain, available from your country's local consulate in Spain;.
Retired persons, and some others, require proof that they belong to a private health insurance scheme that's valid in Spain or that they have the right to medical treatment under the Spanish public health scheme.
Employees require a job contract or an offer of employment in the form of a pre-contract stamped and signed by both.
Self-employed persons require evidence that they meet the requirements to operate a business or perform a particular profession in Spain.

When you have approval for a Spanish residence card, you're issued with a receipt as proof of your application. This is valid for two months and renewable until your residencia is ready. When your residencia is ready to be collected, you will be summoned to the local police station and have a print of right index finger taken. Carry your residence card with you at all times as this is mandatory in Spain.

Allow plenty of time for your residency permit to percolate through the different levels of the Spanish bureacracy. It has happened that year long stays have expired, and the applicant returned home, before the Spanish residency permit process was completed.


For more in depth information on this topic, we highly recommend:

Living and Working in Spain: A Survival Guide

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