After reading this article you are going to learn all the necessary requirements to enter Spain as a tourist and obtain the family member of an EU or Spanish citizen card. We will analyze which are the most common paths and how you can benefit from them, as well as the 2 situations in which the procedure could get complicated.


Can you enter as a tourist and get the family member of an Eu citizen card?


Yes, it is possible to enter Spain with your tourist visa and end up getting the community card, and without the need to return to your country of origin. The Spanish immigration law does not impose any restrictions based on the type of entry to Spain the foreigner has gone through prior to obtaining this card.

This is one of the most commonly used and effective paths to move from tourist to legal resident in the country.

And that is good news, because many foreigners have this doubt. We are talking about a very useful way to get the residency in the Spanish territory, and perhaps the one that best adapts to your situation.

As you already know, family member of an EU citizen visa is the residence authorization granted to non-European citizens who are relatives of an EU citizen (or directly Spanish) residing in Spain.

This card allows you to live and work in the country for 5 years (with the possibility of renewing it later on for the long-run).

The doubt arises when talking about the application procedure and the exact way to obtain it. Unlike all the residency cards under the general immigration regime, which require you to apply for from your country of origin, in this case you can apply directly from Spain.

The same happens with all visas under the law of entrepreneurs (investor visa, work permit as a highly skilled worker, and entrepreneur visa, among others).

4 ways to do it


There are 4 different ways to enter Spain as a tourist and get the residence as a relative of a EU citizen:

  • Being an ascendant of a Spanish or European citizen (father or mother) on whom you depend economically
  • Being a direct descendant (son or daughter)
  • Being a civil-union partner or married spouse
  • Being an extended family member, although it is a much more complex procedure

However, we find a situation within the first and second groups that can generate several issues you should bear in mind. Let’s analyze those.


The problem with parents and children over 21


There is a particular case in which entering as a tourist and getting this residency card may not be possible.

We are talking about the case in which either the children over 21 years old or the parents of the European citizen enter Spain, and to do so they are required to obtain a short term visa.

This generates a somewhat contradictory situation, which you can clearly understand if first take a look at the two basic premises of the authorizations at stake:

Firstly, when we apply for and obtain a short term visa in Spain it is because we have been able to demonstrate that we have the economic solvency to be in the country for the time that the visa allows (usually 3 months). That is to say, we do not depend on anyone economically and our own funds or income are sufficient.

On the other hand, when we apply for a community card as children of a Spanish/European citizen over 21 years old, or a father/mother of her, we must demonstrate the relationship of economic dependence. This means that we start living in Spain with our direct relative because we need her economically: she supports us with her income or savings.

Thus, there is a basic contradiction: if we fulfill the requirements for the visa we are not fulfilling, by logical consequence, the requirements for the family member of an EU citizen card. And this could be a reason for conflict with the immigration office.

However, it shouldn’t be a sufficient problem for you to get your application denied.

If you can prove your economic dependence and the rest of the requirements, you will be able to get the community card without any problem.


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How to do it? Legal procedure


First of all, the foreigner or non-European citizen who wishes to obtain the EU family member card must enter Spain.

In order to do so, she must meet the requirements her country of origin dictates for that, and thus obtain a tourist visa if necessary.

You can access the list of countries that must apply for a visa to enter Spain here.

In the event that your country is on the list, applying for the visa as a tourist will be the first step to follow while you are still in your country of origin.

Once in Spain, if you are able to prove your kinship bond (you effectively are the child, partner, or parent of the EU citizen) and that you will actually start living together in Spain from now on, obtaining this card is a relatively simple process.

In addition, in the case of being your spouse or partner, it is even possible to enter without having the affective relationship legally registered yet, formalize the civil union or marriage in Spain, and then proceed to apply for the residence card as a relative of Spanish.

And without the need to leave the country at any time. We will study this case in greater detail in the following section.

In addition, here you will find a complete guide of the card as a relative of a community citizen so that you can study the specific requirements and the legal procedure to follow with the immigration office.


Requirements in case of doing it via marriage or civil union


We have created a special section to this particular path since it is undoubtedly the most frequently used by foreigners around the world wishing to move to Spain.

Your partner is a European Union citizen, and you would like to formalize your relationship so that you can get the residency in Spain. As we have just seen, you can carry out the whole procedure by entering Spain as a tourist, and without leaving the country.

What are the requirements or considerations to be taken into account here?

Firstly, the type of legal relationship to be formalized. You can choose to formalize the union through a civil partnership (“pareja de hecho” in Spanish), or through marriage.

Our recommendation is to opt for the first option, as it is much easier in terms of requirements and faster. You can find here a list containing the main differences between both options to help you decide.

On the other hand, remember that the marriage or relationship must be registered in Spain, in any EU country or in a Spanish consulate. If you married your partner in any other country, you will need to take this extra step.

In addition, each region or autonomous community has its own requirements for registration of the affective relationship. In some cases, you will be required a minimum amount of time living together or joint registration at the city hall, while in others you won’t. Thus, we recommend that you consult the ones that apply in your case before traveling to the country.

Once the affective bond is duly registered, you can apply for the community card (right after).


What documents will you need to present?



Do you need legal help to get your community card?


So far, all the information you need to know about this path of becoming a resident in the country after entering with a tourist visa.

If you still have doubts or would like legal advice with any of the points discusse or assistance when preparing your immigration file, do not hesitate to contact us.

Our team of immigration lawyers will answer all your questions and help you prepare your application to ensure a successful resolution.


Book a consultation with one of our lawyers and solve all your doubts:


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