EU Residency in Spain for EU Citizens

27 February 2021

Residecy for Europeans, Their Spouses and Families


How to obtain Spanish residency for EU citizens, their spouses and their non-EU family members: the registration certificate (certificado de registro) and the EU-family member residence card (tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión) revealed


For European Union citizens:

What is the registration certificate (certificado de registro)? 
Who needs one? 
How much does it cost? 
How long does it take to get one?
Where do I get one?
How long is it good for?
What do I need to do to get one?

For the non-European Union spouses and family members of EU citizens:

What is the EU-family member residence card (tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión)?
Who is considered a family member?
Who needs one? 
How much does it cost? 
How long does it take to get one?
Where do I get one?
How long is it good for?
What do I need to do to get one?

European Union citizens:

What is the registration certificate (certificado de registro)?

The registration certificate is a document that certifies your residence in Spain with the Central Register of Foreigners (Registro Central de Extranjeros) and lists your name, where you live, your nationality, the date you registered, and your Foreigner’s Identity Number (also called a NIE, which you’ll need for any number of financial transactions you make in Spain).

You should be aware that the registration certificate is literally a piece of paper. While it does officially prove your Spanish residency, it is not a valid form of identification in Spain – only your own national passport is acceptable as ID.

Who needs a registration certificate?

You need one if you intend to live or reside in Spain for more than three months. You are eligible for the registration certificate if:

1. You are a citizen of one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. (Note that Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland aren’t part of the EU, but they have special agreements in place.);

AND

2. You can prove one of the following things:

  • You work as an employee in Spain and can provide a copy of your employment contract, employment certificate, or proof of Social Security registration in Spain;
  • You are a student in Spain and can provide a copy of your enrollment at a Spanish school or university, as well as a signed declaration that you have sufficient financial resources for your expenses while in Spain and proof that you have health insurance with coverage in Spain;
  • You work as a sole trader or business owner in Spain and can provide a copy of your registration with Spain’s Commercial Registry or proof of Social Security registration;
  • You have enough financial resources to cover you and your family’s expenses throughout your time in Spain (and won’t be a burden on Spain’s public assistance programs) and can prove it with copies of things like your bank statements, property deeds, investment income, etc. In addition, you must provide proof that you have health insurance with coverage in Spain.

How much does a registration certificate cost?

It costs 10.40 euros, the same amount that Spaniards pay for their national ID card, the DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad).

How long does it take to get one?

Assuming you have everything you need, the registration certificate is issued to you on the spot when you turn in your paperwork. That said, getting an appointment to turn in your paperwork varies depending on the region, and can be scheduled for as soon as a few days, or as long as a few months, in the future.

Where do I get a registration certificate?

At the Foreigners Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or Police Station (Comisaría de Policía) closest to where you live or plan to live.

How long is the registration certificate good for?

In most cases, it’s good forever. However, if you move within Spain, you should get it updated, and if you move outside of Spain, you should formally give up your registration. It’s identical to the process to get the registration certificate except you’ll have to tick a different box on the form.

If you live in Spain continuously for more than five years, you can then choose to get permanent residency.

What do I need to do to get a registration certificate?

You should register within three months of arriving in Spain. Here’s how:

  1. Download the EX-18 form, fill it out, and sign it.
  2. Make an appointment with the nearest Foreigners Office by phone (if you can) or in person (make sure to get there early). Take this opportunity to ask for a form called Modelo 790. You’ll then have to go to a bank (you can get the Modelo 790 form there too) to pay the 10.40 euros and have the form stamped for confirmation.
  3. Bring your passport, the completed EX-18 form, proof of your situation (discussed here), and the stamped Modelo 790 to your appointment.
  4. Hand your forms over when the Spanish civil servant asks for them.
  5. Take your new registration certificate home with you. Congratulations, you’re now a Spanish resident!

Non-European Union spouses and family members of EU citizens:

What is the EU-family member residence card (tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión)?

The EU-family member residence card certifies your residence in Spain as an official family member of an EU citizen.

Who is considered a family member of an EU citizen?

For the purposes of obtaining an EU-family member residence card in Spain, the family members of Spaniards or EU citizens are:

  • Current spouses or registered domestic partners (unless separated) who are economically dependent on the EU citizen spouse;
  • Your dependent minor children (yours or those of your spouse or registered domestic partner);
  • Dependent parents (yours or those of your spouse or registered domestic partner).

The Spanish or EU citizen family member you're basing your application on must meet some financial criteria and provide documentation (discussed here).

Who needs an EU-family member residence card?

You need one if you plan to accompany or join your EU family member while they are residing in Spain.

How much does an EU-family member residence card cost?

It costs 10.40 euros, the same amount that Spaniards pay for their national ID card, the DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad). How long does it take to get an EU-family member residence card? In accordance with EU law, you should get your residence card within six months from the day you turn in all your paperwork, but you must make an appointment to do so. Depending on the region and how busy they are, the next available appointment may be a few days or a few months in the future. Where do I get an EU-family member residence card? At the Foreigners Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or Police Station (Comisaría de Policía) closest to where you live or plan to live. How long is the EU-family member residence card good for? It’s good for up to five years. If after that time you still live in Spain with your family member, you can get another one or opt for permanent residence. What do I need to do to get an EU-family member residence card (tarjeta de residencia de familiar de ciudadano de la Unión)? You should register within three months of arriving in Spain. Here’s how:

  1. Download the EX-19 form, fill it out, and sign it.
  2. Make an appointment with the nearest Foreigners Office by phone (if you can) or in person (make sure you get there early). Take this opportunity to ask for a form called Modelo 790. You’ll then have to go to a bank (you can get the Modelo 790 form there too) to pay the 10.40 euros and have the form stamped for confirmation.
  3. Bring the following items to your appointment:
    • Your passport.
    • Your family member’s passport (or DNI if your family member is Spanish).
    • Your family member’s registration certificate (if your family member is not Spanish).
    • The completed EX-19 form.
    • The stamped Modelo 790.
    • A document that establishes your family tie to the EU citizen. If the document is not in Spanish, it will need to be translated and legalized or have an apostille on it. In the case of a spouse, you’ll need to bring a marriage certificate issued from an EU country that is less than three months old. If you were married more than three months ago, you’ll have to request a new certificate for this purpose. For those who were married in Spain, you can request the certificate in person, by mail, or online from the Ministry of Justice.
    • Proof of your family member’s financial situation.
    • Photocopies of everything listed above.
    • Three passport-sized photographs in color.
  4. Hand your forms over when the Spanish civil servant asks for them. They’ll stamp your copy of the EX-19 as a record.
  5. Wait for a letter in the mail with instructions on how to pick up your residence card.
  6. Pick up your card. Congratulations, you’re now a Spanish resident! This card is also accepted as official identification in Spain.

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