A couple who are resident in Spain and EU Citizens.

European Economic Area (EEA) and European Union (EU) citizens can live in Spain without a visa, but there is some paperwork to complete. And non-EU family members can move to Spain too. There are two easy steps to get your EU certificate of registration, the card that allows you to live and work as an EU national in Spain. Here’s how to get residency in Spain for EU citizens and family members.

Note: As an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, there is no paperwork to do before you enter Spain. Once you are in Spain, you can start the process.

Do EU Or EEA Citizens Need To Register To Live In Spain?

Yes, if you intend to stay for more than 90 days. You can freely come and go if your visit is less than three months.

The requirements in this article are for EU or EEA citizens who want to move to Spain for more than 90 days.

Note: Since BREXIT, UK citizens must follow standard non-EU processes and so need to apply for a Spanish Visa or Residence permit.

Spanish Residency Certificate for Citizens of EU Countries – 2 Simple Steps

1) Register With Your Local Municipality

All Spanish residents need a ‘Padrón,’ the short name for a Certificado de Empadronamiento. You’ll need:

  • proof of address in your neighborhood (a rental contract or utility bill)
  • your passport, plus a copy.

Visit your local Citizen’s Information Office or register online.

Note: While every Spanish municipality issues a Padrón to its residents, the process and requirements can differ. In short, you’ll need to show you have an address in Spain. The Barcelona town hall, for example, will issue a Padrón if you have a lease as short as three months. Other municipalities will want a minimum lease of 11 months, so check with your lawyer before you start the process.

2) Get Your EU Registry Certificate

The final step is to get your EU Registry Certificate or Certificado De Registro De Ciudadano De La Unión Europea. During this process, you’ll get your NIE ( número de identidad de extranjero) which is your fiscal ID number as a foreigner. You’ll come to love your NIE – you’ll use it all the time!

To get the certificate, you’ll need some documentation.

  1. A completed EX18 Application form.
  2. A receipt for the fee payable (from the Impreso Tasa Modelo 790 Code 012.) This fee is €12 for a single applicant.
  3. Proof of sufficient means to support yourself and your family in Spain. This could be a bank statement, income statement, employment contract, self-employment registration, or proof of assets. The minimum amount is 100% of 2023 IPREM, or € 7,200 for the primary applicant. You’ll also need 75% of IPREM, or €5,400 for each dependent family member.
  4. Health Insurance Cover. You’ll be eligible for Spanish public healthcare if you work in Spain and pay into the relevant social security scheme. You may also be able to use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You’ll need a qualifying Spanish Private Health Insurance policy if you don’t have either of those.
  5. Tip: You can get two quotes using our Health Insurance quote tool from the Health Insurers we recommend.
  6. The Padrón you got in Step 1 above.
  7. A valid EU/EEA/Swiss passport with a copy.

Note: If you have a job in Spain, a letter from your employer will be all you need to show you can support yourself. So, no need for any of the items in numbers 3 and 4 on the list above.

You’ll apply for your residence permit at the nearest Foreigners’ Office, Immigration Office, or the local police station. If you are not using a lawyer, you’ll need to book the appointment online. Be aware that getting the correct appointment on time can be incredibly challenging in many areas.

Shortcut: Our Spanish Immigration Lawyer Partner can assist with residency in Spain for EU citizens, ensuring you don’t waste time or money.

Spanish Residency Document For EU citizens

Your Spanish residence card is a credit-card-sized green paper document. It will include your name, address, and NIE. You’ll hear this sometimes called a NIE or a green card. This document identifies you as an EU citizen who can live and work in Spain.

An Example of what the Green Residency Card or NIE after Residency in Spain for EU Citizens is granted.

Above is an example of what your green paper residency card would look like.

Non-EU Citizen Family Members

Once you are registered as an EU citizen in Spain, you can apply for the reunion of non-EU citizen family members.

The people you can include on your application depend on your status.

1) Working, Self-Employed, or Economically Self-Sufficient

You can include a spouse (or common-law partner) and children under 21. In addition, you can include parents, parents-in-law, and disabled adult children dependents.

2) Student

You can include a spouse (or common-law partner) and your children


  1. Gather Necessary Documents: This includes a marriage or civil partnership certificate (apostille certified copy) or your “pareja de hecho” resolution.
  2. Application for Residence Card: Family members of EU nationals should apply for a residence card within three months of their arrival in Spain. They will also apply at the nearest Foreigners’ Office or Immigration Office.
  3. Healthcare: Ensure that your family members have access to healthcare. If they are not working, you might need to provide proof of private health insurance or show that they are covered under your health plan. Note: If your partner is working in Spain, you don’t need private health insurance.
  4. Accommodation: You must show you are living with your EU citizen partner. To do this, you’ll need an empadronamiento (volante de Convivencia) showing the same address.
  5. Financial Means: Demonstrate sufficient financial means to support your family members. This can be through bank statements, employment contracts, or other financial documents. The legislation doesn’t give an exact figure, but you should be fine if you work on 150% of IPREM (so in 2023, it is €10,800).
  6. Wait for Approval: Once all documents are submitted, the authorities will process the application. Depending on the volume of applications, this can take a few weeks to a few months.
  7. Collect the Residence Card: Once approved, the family member will be notified to collect their residence card. This card confirms their right to live in Spain as a family member of an EU citizen.
  8. Stay Updated: Always be aware of any changes in immigration rules or requirements. Regularly check official sources or consult with a Spanish immigration lawyer to ensure compliance.

It’s essential to ensure that all documents are accurate and up-to-date. If there are any doubts or specific situations, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration lawyer familiar with Spanish regulations.

Need help with your Residency paperwork?

If you want to save the hassle of filling out the paperwork correctly, getting all of the appointments yourself, and negotiating the process in Spanish, then we can help you. Our Immigration Partners, Raquel and her team, have helped hundreds of our happy clients.

Parejo De Hecho For Unmarried Partners

If you are in a stable relationship and have lived together for twelve months, you can apply for Pareja de hecho status. This gives you similar rights as a married spouse or civil registered partner.

  1. Legal Recognition: The Spanish government recognizes “Pareja de Hecho” and provides couples with a legal framework similar to that of a married couple, though there are some differences in terms of inheritance rights and other legal aspects.
  2. Benefits: Couples who register as a “Pareja de Hecho” can enjoy benefits such as:
    • Access to a partner’s public health insurance.
    • Rights to a pension in the event of a partner’s death.
    • Residency and work rights for the non-EU partner of an EU citizen.
  3. Requirements: The exact requirements can vary by region in Spain, but generally, couples need to:
    • Prove they have been cohabiting for a specific period (this can vary).
    • Be of legal age and not be related by blood.
    • Not be married to someone else.
    • Provide identification and other necessary documents.

Key Risks and Obstacles for Obtaining Residency for Family Members in Spain:

  1. Incomplete or Incorrect Documentation: One of the most common reasons for delays or rejections is missing or incorrect documentation. It’s crucial to ensure that all required documents are provided, are up-to-date, and are translated if necessary.
  2. Proof of Relationship: Authorities may require substantial evidence to prove the relationship between the EU citizen and the family member. This can be especially challenging for non-traditional or extended family members.
  3. Financial Requirements: Demonstrating sufficient financial means to support family members can be a hurdle. The application might face challenges if the EU citizen’s financial situation changes or they cannot provide adequate proof of funds.
  4. Healthcare Coverage: Ensuring that family members have adequate healthcare coverage is essential. If they are not covered by the public healthcare system, they might need comprehensive private health insurance, which can be costly.
  5. Accommodation Issues: Proof of suitable accommodation might be required. The application could be hampered if the living conditions are deemed unsuitable or overcrowded.
  6. Dependency Proof: For dependent family members, such as adult children or parents, proving dependency can be challenging. Authorities might require substantial evidence of financial or health dependency.
  7. Criminal Records: Family members with criminal records or pending legal issues might face application challenges or delays.
  8. Language Barrier: While the process can often be done in English, there might be instances where communication in Spanish is necessary. This can pose challenges for those who don’t speak the language.
  9. Bureaucratic Delays: Like many others, the Spanish immigration system can sometimes experience backlogs or delays, which can prolong the waiting time for approvals.
  10. Changes in Regulations: Immigration rules and policies can change. It’s essential to be updated with the latest regulations to ensure compliance.
  11. Brexit Implications: For British citizens, the implications of Brexit have changed the dynamics of moving within the EU. While previously British citizens enjoyed the same rights as other EU citizens, post-Brexit, there are additional requirements or changes to consider.

Permanent Residency & Spanish Citizenship

After five years of living in Spain as a family member of an EU citizen, you can apply for permanent residency in Spain (PR). After ten years, you can apply for Spanish citizenship by naturalization.

Are you an EU citizen bringing non-EU family members to Spain?

Spain is welcoming of the families of EU citizens. It is how I came to live in Spain via Alison’s pre-BREXIT British passport. However, the process is challenging, and we would have really struggled without support.

FAQ – Residency in Spain for EU Citizens

Do you need legal assistance to get Spanish Residency?

No, you can complete the process on your own. However, a good Spanish immigration lawyer will make the process (including getting the correct appointments) much simpler.

Do you need an EU Registry Certificate to apply for a job in Spain?

No, your EU passport is sufficient to apply for a job in Spain. You can apply for your residence permit once you are offered a job in Spain and obtain a residence.

How long is your EU Residence Permit Valid In Spain?

Your Spanish “Green Card” is valid for five years. After that, you’ll need to renew it or apply for permanent residence in Spain.

What is Pareja de Hecho in Spain?

You can apply for Pareja de hecho status if you are in a stable relationship and have lived together for at least twelve months. It does not have all the same rights as a marriage but does qualify for immigration in many cases. For example, with pareja de hecho, you could apply to move to Spain as the partner of an EU citizen. Each region is different.


  1. I was born in the UK and have a British passport. I have lived permanently in France for ten years. I assume I am still classed as a British citizen. Do I still need to apply for a visa to live in spain? Does my ten year french residency count toward residency years required for spanish residency. Many thanks.

    1. HI Carol. 1) Yes, you are still a British citizen, and all your immigration status will start with that fact. 2) Yes, all British citizens must apply for a visa to live in Spain since BREXIT 3) Unfortunately, no. Your French residency will not be counted at all by the Spanish immigration service. Regards, Alastair

  2. As retirees, we plan to live in Spain 6 months of the year and return to the US the remainder 6 months, do we have to pay taxes in Spain?

    1. Hi Alecia. You’ll pay tax in the country where you are a tax resident – there are several factors in how this is decided, but living in Spain for 183 days or more generally makes you a tax resident here, meaning you’ll pay taxes in Spain. Check out our Spain Expat tax guide for more details. Cheers, Alastair

  3. I’m an EU citizen. I live in Canada and work for a Canadian company. I’m planning to move to Spain. What if I want to work remotely for Canada but live in Spain? How’s that going to work? Thanks!

    1. Hi Roberto. Spain and Canada have a reciprocal social security agreement so that you can get a Canadian certificate of coverage. You’ll need to manage your tax liability by deducting the withheld tax from your Spanish tax return or registering it as “no tax” in Canada. See our Remote Work in Spain guide for more information. All the best, Alastair

  4. Hello, I am a French citizen living in the UK since 1985 with a French passport. I want to go in live in Spain. Can I apply as EU resident or do I have to apply as a none EU Because I live in the UK? Appreciate your help on this matter. Thank you

    1. Hi Robert. Your citizenship is the important factor here, and so you can apply for Spanish residency as an EU citizen. All the best, Alastair

  5. Hi,
    I am a UK citizen with a german Passport and I would like to stay in spain with my wife (UK citizen) for 5 months.
    What do I need to do please
    We have had a house in spain since 2003 but only had short stays
    Thank you

    1. Hi Robert. You need to follow the process described in the article to register as an EU citizen in Spain. Your wife can then apply as the spouse of an EU citizen. Our immigration law partner will be happy to assist with the paperwork. All the best, Alastair

  6. We are US Citizens. Myself and two adult children. We are considering to move to Spain where my sister lives . We are college graduates and two of us are employed. What would it be the process for us to obtain all legal residence, social security for employment, student visa and visa paper work?. How lengthy is to complete all the paper work? I assume everything must be done here in the United States. Is it done by contacting a Spanish Embassy or Consulate? Thank you fir your assistance

    1. Hi Carmen. I’d suggest meeting with our Spain Immigraotn Lawyer. They’ll help you find the best immigration option and walk you through the process, paperwork, and timelines. All the best, Alastair

  7. Hi,
    I am a dual citizenship holder (British and Latvian) and have been living in UK for the last 10+ years. I assume that I would be able to live in Spain without a visa?

    1. Hi Martha. Yes, as a Latvian citizen you can live in Spain without a visa (your UK citizensship won’t be of any use since BREXIT). You’ll need to follow the EU citizen residency process above. All the best, Alastair

  8. Hi
    My Wife and I are both retired living in the UK. We both hold Croatian citizenship. We are seriously considering relocating to Spain. If we do would we qualify for the Public healthcare system as EU citizens.
    Many thanks

  9. Hi Alastair
    Great site BTW.
    My long term partner (Slovakian passport holder) and I are considering moving to Spain in a few years time. We have living together for about 3 years. We have separate bank accounts apart from one joint food account. The council tax is in both of our names but the rental agreement in mine only. Is this enough evidence to prove the relationship so we can both live, work and apply for residency? We have the funds required no problem. My work would be self employment.
    Many thanks and keep up the good work.

  10. Hello! My husband is a Finnish citizen, and I am a Russian citizen. We are planning to move to Spain soon. I have seen many different people talking about documents needed for residency there. I want to ask, do we need the criminal records certificate for applying for residency, and if we need, does it have to be translated to Spanish and apostilled?

    1. Hi Stefaniia. You’ll need a police clearance showing no disqualifying criminal record, and it will need to be translated to Spanish and apostilled. Our immigration lawyer partner will be able to assist you with the process. All the best, Alastair

  11. Hi,
    I am a German citizen currently living in the US. I am planning to move to Spain with my US citizen wife for retirement. My wife is Puerto Rican and thus qualifies for becoming a permanent resident after 2 years of living in Spain, not 5. I guess, I would need to live there for 5 years as a European? In addition, how does this work with the health insurance? Do we both need private insurance and for how long? I do not have any more German health insurance. Thank you.

    1. Hi Petra. As you don’t have German public healthcare, you’ll need private healthcare in Spain until you qualify for public healthcare in Spain. Your wife will be eligible to apply for Spanish citizenship after 2 years, not permanent residence, and this is a very different process that does have implications on your eligibility for public healthcare. All the best, Alastair

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