Many of our clients ask us the same. How can I bring a family member or friend to Spain so she can visit the country for a certain period of time? The answer is simple, and how to do it quite easy: an invitation letter for a visa. What is it all about? And how do you get one? To answer all your questions, here you will find a complete guide to get an invitation letter to enter Spain as a foreigner:
What is an invitation letter?
An invitation letter is a responsible statement or proof by which a Spanish citizen or resident in the country can invite a foreign person to live for a maximum of 90 days in her house, taking full responsibility for her.
The reason why such a document exists is simple.
When a person travels to Spain and crosses the country’s borders, she must explain what brought her to the country and where she will go exactly. Otherwise, the entry would be denied.
Thus, in response to these questions, it is usually required to show that the person has a round-trip plane ticket, sufficient financial resources, hotel reservations in all the places she intends to visit, etc.
However, what happens if instead of staying in a hotel she will stay at a friend or family member’s house? That’s when the invitation letter comes in.
That is, if the tourist does not have a hotel/hostel; the invitation letter will be mandatory to enter Spain and enjoy the tourist stay.
Important note. The invitation letter is not a substitute for a visa. If you intend to enter any country that does not have an entry agreement without a visa, you must first manage the visa at the Spanish consulate of the country of origin. Then you will be eligible for an invitation letter.
Who needs an invitation letter to enter Spain?
The invitation letter is only necessary for non-EU people who want to come to visit the country. That is, people without a passport from the European Union.
Thus, not everyone needs this letter for a visa to enter Spain.
And this is because all EU citizens enjoy free transit within Spanish territory; so you don’t need it in those situations.
So, to sum up, it is possible that with your short-term visa an invitation letter is required; especially if you are staying at a friend or family member’s house.
Who can request it?
The invitation letter can be requested by any Spanish citizen, a non-EU citizen who is a legal resident (with a valid residence permit) or any other European Union citizen living in Spain.
This explains the need to prove the legal resident status in Spain or to provide a Spanish ID at the time of requesting the letter.
Contrary to what most people think, it is not a document written by the person living in Spain (the one who invites abroad).
It is a document requested at the police station closest to your usual residence. Therefore, this institution will be responsible for issuing the document after it has been granted.
How long does it take to get an invitation letter for a visa?
In general, it takes from 10 days to 2 months to get the invitation letter for a foreigner who wants to visit Spain. Although this period may vary greatly, our recommendation is to start the process at least 1 or 2 months in advance.
The invitation letter is not a document given to you at the moment. If you are thinking of requesting it because you need it as soon as possible (in 1 or 2 days), they will not give it to you that fast.
While it is true that there are people who are lucky and get it in just two days, it is not usual.
Hence, our advice is that you prepare everything in advance and ask for it in with enough time.
Especially since, once they give it to you, you will have to send it to the country of origin where the person who should receive it currently lives. That is because that person needs the original document (a photo or copy won’t be valid). And this final step also takes time.
How to get an appointment to request the invitation letter
As we have said, the invitation letter is issued by the police station closest to your home.
That is why the first step is to check the station’s schedule and see if you need to book an appointment or not. Otherwise, it is very likely that you will go there and won’t be attended.
If no appointment is required, the procedure will be much faster (being able to get it in just 10 days).
Which are the requirements to get an invitation letter to Spain?
Here are the main requirements that you must meet in order for your application to be successful:
- Bring your “empadronamiento” or address register. This document is necessary to prove that you live in the address you will have your friend/relative staying.
- Rental contract or original deed of sale of the property in which where are living. You have to prove that you have a home so that the person you are inviting has accommodation during their stay in Spain.
- NIE or Spanish DNI. In the case of being a non-EU citizen, you must provide your residence card.
- Passport copy of the person who is being invited.
- Exact dates in which the foreign person will come to Spain, as well as the flight in and out.
- Form in which the link between the person who is inviting from Spain and the guest is detailed.
- The fee to be paid.
The fee you need to pay to get the invitation letter
In relation to the last requirement, it is important to keep in mind that the invitation letter has a cost.
This cost will be paid by the individual in Spain who does the whole process.
Depending on how many people travel and how long they stay in the country, this cost will vary. But you can consider something in the lines of € 80 approximately.
This amount increases from € 6 to € 8 for each additional invitation you make, and it is paid at the police station.
Main causes that can get your application rejected
On many occasions, the request for the invitation letter can be denied. And here we will explain the main reasons for refusal so you can avoid them.
Before starting with these causes, keep in mind that you can always appeal to such denials.
A very common denial reason is related to the people being registered at your address.
What the police will do is analyze how large the house is, how many people are registered in it; and most importantly: if there is someone under an irregular situation registered there.
If it is the case that, for example, in addition to your partner and children a person who is illegally in Spain is living in your home, then this is a reason for the denial of the invitation letter application.
In addition, the fact that too many people are registered in the same house can also be an argument for rejection.
Asylum seekers or refugees
As we have seen in the section regarding people who can request the invitation letter, asylum seekers or refugees are not included in that list. They simply cannot complete the process.
Only Spanish nationals or foreign citizens with a residence permit are allowed to do so.
Inviting someone to stay irregularly in Spain
This is another cause of rejection that is quite common.
If there is any indication that the person we are inviting will remain for an indefinite period in an irregular situation in Spain, the application will be denied directly.
For example, if you invite your partner, with whom you already have a child and a marriage certificate, it is quite possible that they will deny you the letter. Why? Because it’s a pretty clear sign that the intention is that she stays in Spain for the long run.
The invitation letter is designed for the person that comes to Spain to visit the country and do some tourism for a while and then return to her home country afterwards. Doing the opposite will not only be grounds for denial, but it can also result in significant monetary penalties, as we will see below.
Many foreigners use the invitation letter to legally enter Spain and pass the control, just to then stay under an irregular situation for the long-run. This is completely prohibited. Therefore, this procedure has certain associated risks.
You will be facing certain risks if you and the person you invite are planning that she stays longer than allowed in Spain. Why? Because by requesting the letter you are declaring yourself responsible not only for maintaining and being in charge of your guest, but also for making sure that she returns to her country within a maximum period of 90 days.
Otherwise, you can be penalized with a fine, which can range from € 500 to € 10,000.
Before there was no follow-up for non-compliance or not that many files were initiated for that reason. However, the situation has changed now.
And the sanction in that sense is severe, as it is a violation of the immigration law. It can even lead to a criminal penalty for promoting irregular immigration. Even the irregular person can be issued an expulsion file. This situation, then, creates problems for both parties.
So be careful. First of all, talk to the person you are going to invite. If you are sure that she does not want to stay irregularly in Spain in the long term, then initiate the application process for the invitation letter. But otherwise, better to avoid the process.