Residency in Spain, begins with a having a right to reside in Spain, either unconditionally, or by meeting requirements that apply according to your nationality and situation.
Residency in Spain for Citizens of EU Countries
Spain requires EU citizens planning to reside in Spain for more than 3 months to register in person at the Oficina de Extranjeros in their province of residence, or at designated National Police stations. On registering, a credit card size residency certificate is issued. The full name for this is, certificado de registro de ciudadano de la unión, however it is commonly referred to as certificado de residencia‘, or simply ‘residencia‘. It has name, address, nationality, NIE number (Número de Identificación Extranjero) and the date of registration as a resident on it.
Apart from the legal requirement to register, based on your intention to take up residency in Spain, if you spend 183 days or more per year in the country, then you are likely also deemed to be resident in Spain for tax purposes. You therefore don’t ‘become resident’ by obtaining your residency certificate, you are deemed resident in Spain based on the time you spend here, i.e. Spain is where you spend most of your time and ‘habitually reside’.
This unconditional right have to reside in Spain, extends to nationals of member states of the European Union and Switzerland, as well as other countries party to the agreement on the European Economic Area. Nationals of countries aside from these, are able to gain residency based on achieving certain qualifying conditions.
If you have the unconditional right to reside, you either register and get your ‘certificado de residencia‘ because you intend to take up residency, i.e. live in Spain for more than 3 months.
The right of residency in Spain can be extended to a spouse or civil partner and to direct descendants or dependants who are part of your household and under 21 years of age.
For someone planning to live long term in Spain, residency is the first step towards getting permanent residency status, which can be applied for after 5 years. Thereafter if someone so wishes, they can apply for Spanish citizenship after 10 years of permanent residency.
What is the process for getting a EU Citizen certificate of residency in Spain?
If you are a UK or EU national, first step is of course to exercise your right to move to Spain and reside. To register as a resident and get your residency certificate, you’ll need a residential address, and to be able to prove that they have sufficient financial means to support yourself (and any dependents living with you), and that all applicants have access to healthcare, either through a private insurance policy, or entitlement through social security contributions.
Proof of means checks are in most places rigidly carried out, and the assessing officer can sometimes be pedantic. This means that the process of application for certificate of residency in Spain, is not always as straight forward as it should be. If you don’t provide the correct documents, you’ll not get a residency certificate, even if you have right of Spanish residency as an EU citizen.
To apply for a certificate of residency in Spain, you need to present your application along with supporting documents at the National Police station in your area.
Residency in Spain for Citizens of non-EU Countries
Citizens of third countries wishing to get Spanish residency, must first obtain an appropriate visa before applying for residency.
There are some exceptions to this, for example, if you are joining a family member who is already a Spanish resident and you are their dependent and a national a country who’s citizens do not have to obtain a Schengen (Tourist) Visa to enter Europe, e.g. USA.
Lists of countries who’s citizens do and don’t need Schengen Tourists visas can be found here: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/who-needs-schengen-visa/
Visa’s must be applied for through the Spanish embassy in your current country of (formal) residence, before your travel to Spain.
Once you arrive in Spain with the relevant visa or meeting residency eligibility otherwise, you can begin your application for Spanish residency card, the TIE, ‘tarjeta de identidad de extranjero‘.
Visas and Spanish residency eligibility for Non-EU nationals
The following is a summary of the various types of Spanish residency visas that citizens of third country’s can apply for, and other eligibility not requiring a residency visa.
Family Members of Spanish Residents
The right to Spanish residency can be extended to a spouse or civil partner, and to direct descendants or dependents who are part of your household, and under 21 years of age.
If the Spanish resident family member is a national of an EU country, or UK national with protected rights under the withdrawal agreement, then the family member joining them can travel to Spain as a tourist, and must apply for residency within three months of arrival.
Where the Spanish resident family member is a national of a third country, the individual or family members joining them need to obtain a family reunification visa.
In both cases the sponsoring Spanish resident family member has to prove that they have sufficient financial means to support themselves and their family, and provide them with access to healthcare.
Residency Visas for Non-EU nationals
There are various types of visas available for non-EU nationals. Which you apply for will depend on your circumstances and reason for coming to Spain.
Provide further information about residency and visas in this article: https://lifestylegroup.es/spanish-residency-certificates-visas-tie/
I’m British, what about residency in Spain now the UK has left the EU?
Now that the UK is no longer in the EU, the residency requirements for non-EU nationals apply to British citizens / UK nationals, effective from January 1st 2021.
British citizens / UK nationals in most cases now have to follow the same process as other non-EU national citizens of third countries to get Spanish residency.
Requirements once you’ve taken up residency in Spain
You are generally liable to pay taxes in the country in which you reside. This means that once you have taken up residency in Spain, you will be subject to Spanish taxation. The liability to pay taxes in Spain arises when you meet the residency measure based on the 183 day rule, and this obligation actually applies regardless of whether you have registered as a resident or not.
Tax for Spanish Residents
As a resident in Spain you pay tax on:
- General income
- Interest on savings and investments
- Capital gains on sale of assets
- Wealth (if your total wealth is 700k or more)
- Gifts and inheritance
Overseas Assets Declaration
Spanish residents must declare certain assets they own outside of Spain such as:
- Personal Pensions
Planning before taking up residency in Spain
The requirement to have a residency certificate, is not the same as the need to have a passport in order to travel, or a driving licence to be able to drive a car. Therefore there is no need to rush to complete the residency formalities, when you move to Spain. Taking up residency in Spain for most, is not or should not, just be viewed as a paperwork exercise to get a residency certificate.
There are lots of things to consider when taking up residency in Spain, therefore, it is important to fully understand all the differences your new residency status will bring with it, how they might affect you in your situation, and to plan accordingly.
Some examples of things you might want to think about are:
- Learning about the system and knowing what needs to be done and when
- How the Spanish tax regime differs from the UK and what tax you will have to pay
- Changes that may occur to the status or tax treatment of assets you have
- Entitlements such as benefits or tax breaks that you currently enjoy which you may lose
- Access to healthcare for you and if applicable family members
- Getting advice on financial or tax matters in both the UK and Spain
- What rights you have as an EU citizen changing your residency to Spain
Questions About Residency in Spain?
If you have questions about anything relating to residency in Spain, please feel free to get in touch and ask to speak to one of our knowledgeable advisers.