Society & Culture
Once you have lived in Spain for a certain time (depending on your country of origin), you are no longer considered a tourist and should apply for a residence permit. Fortunately, the revised foreigner’s law, which went into effect on 1 March 2003, makes it easier for European Union citizens to apply for residence; also, those EU citizens who are working in Spain, do not need to renew their permits.
The normal residence permit is renewed once every five years and renewal is usually a fairly straightforward matter.
Normally, you apply for your residence card at your local police station or "oficina de extranjeros". As laws constantly change and tend to vary slightly anyway from one area to another, it is best to pop along first to ask for a list of exactly what you will need to present.
How long can you expect to wait before actually receiving your card? This varis from town to town and can be days, weeks or even months in smaller towns. However, you should be supplied with a document showing that you have applied for residencia, which can be used in place of the residence permit.
RESIDENCE CARD AND EU CITIZENS
Since 1 March 2003, two groups of EU citizens no longer need to hold residence cards: those people who are legally working in Spain and presently paying Spanish Social Security; also, retired workers entitled to a Spanish State pension who have lived in Spain for more than three years and have worked in the 12 months prior to retirement. Having said that, and although it isn’t obligatory for these people, the residence card is always useful as easy proof of your status.
Everybody else should apply for a residencia.
EU citizens no longer need to show proof of income nor that they have medical insurance – either private or, for example, the British E111 form.
However, they will need to present:
- completed application form
- four photographs
- passport plus photocopy
RESIDENCE CARD AND NON-EU CITIZENS
Non-EU citizens will need:
- the visa or visado de residencia obtained from home country;
- proof of financial means;
- certificado de antecedentes penales showing you have no criminal record;
- medical certificate – necessary for obtaining the visa;
- consular inscription;
- medical insurance with a company which has offices in Spain;
- passport and photocopy;
- three passport-size photos;
- payment of fee (not high);
- Spanish bank statement showing income arriving from abroad;
- deeds to Spanish property or a rental contract, plus photocopy;
- completed application form.
Non-EU citizens requesting the unified work permit/residence permit will need further documents relating to their employer.
Your residence permit will include a número de identificatión de extranjero (NIE), which identifies you to the Spanish tax authorities.
Many EU citizens I know shy away from taking out their residencia. This is really not a good idea for, if you are living in Spain, there are tax advantages to being resident and, for EU members, it is not a complicated process if you have basic Spanish. For those who do not want the bother of seeing to it themselves, it does not cost a lot to use the services of a gestor (licensed administrative expert).
So ... go on ... go ahead and take the plunge! Get yourself legal!
(Due to changing laws, we strongly recommend you consult the nearest Spanish consulate in your own country, or any "oficina de extranjeros" in Spain for any special requirements regarding your own particular situation. More information on residence permits may also be found on Spain's Home Office webpage)
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