You may have heard or read about the legal process required to get a residence permit in Spain for non-EU citizens. And perhaps you got a bit scared. Nonetheless, you shouldn’t. Because if you are a European Union citizen, you have it completely easy to start living in the Spanish territory. Furthermore, in this article we are going to explain to you exactly how to do it. We will cover the main legal steps you will need to follow as an EU citizen in order to move to Spain. And we will explain the process for both you and your family.

Would you like to start living, working or studying here? Then continue reading!

We are going to cover:




Unlike all the residence permits and visas for non-EU citizens, if you are a European Union individual the applicable legislation will be the Community Regime

And this can help us solve a really important question: do you really need a permit or visa in order to legally stay in Spain? 

The answer is simple, no.

Individuals from the European Union, members of the European Economic Act (meaning those from Norway, Island, and Liechtenstein) and Swiss nationals don’t need a residence permit or visa in order to live and work in Spain

This, for sure, makes it really easy for you to move to Spain and start your new life with your family there. 

Nevertheless, you may be required to embark on one additional legal step. And that will depend on how long you would like to stay in the country:

  • If you are planning to stay for less than 3 months in Spain, maybe due to your holidays/tourism, then you can freely enter the country. No need to request any kind of document. 
  • Things are different if you will stay for more than 90 days. You will then have to register and obtain your certificate, registering your address and demonstrating you have sufficient economic funds to sustain yourself in the country, providing a health insurance contract. 

But we still have one unaddressed group of people. 

What will happen to British citizens? If you are from the UK we recommend you to first read our article regarding what will be the legal situation for UK citizens after Brexits regarding immigration





Let’s now move to the important part: the actual legal steps you will need to follow. Again, remember that this process is only required if you will stay for more than 3 months in the country. 

In this section we will explain the details you need to know in order to become a permanent legal resident in the country

And we have divided this process into 3 different sections to make it easier for you:




This will be the first step in your journey.

And in fact, this is a crucial step, as without a permanent residency/address, you can’t get registered as an EU citizen living permanently in Spain. You must show proof that you are living in the country. 

Hence, the first thing you will have to do is find a place to live in.

The Spanish territory is completely diverse and there is no place better than the other. But just to give you some advice here, you can access our guide with the 5 places to live in Spain for expats

Once you have chosen the city or town you will move to, you have to decide whether to buy or rent. And that can have some implications for your legal registration.

  • If you purchase a property (an apartment or a house), there won’t be any problem. You just need to provide the contract deed (“nota simple” in Spanish), and it will be enough to demonstrate that you have an address in Spain.
  • But, what happens if you are renting? Then you must make sure the rent is at least an 11-month contract or longer, as mid-term contracts are not always accepted. Our advice is to get a long-term one, as it will be the key to ensure a successful application.




legal Steps to move to Spain as an EU citizen














Once you have your new house or flat, it’s time to register your address as a resident at the local town hall, a process called “empadronamiento”

This simply means that you need to register on the municipal registry, stating which will be your address and defining the names of the individuals who will start living there. 

This is how the town hall controls the number of inhabitants living there. 

Furthermore, that will enable you to register your children in school, get subsidies from the government, vote on the European elections, etc. 

The process is really simple and fast, and you will only need to submit:

  • Your passport and a copy of it.
  • If you are renting your rental contract, and if you have bought a property, a document that accredits the transaction.
  • Submit a resident register form you will be granted at the town hall during the application

And that’s it! You will receive the so called “certificado de empadronamiento”, and you can move to the next step. 




And, finally, the moment in which you need to get your residence card. The card that will enable you to stay legally in Spain as a European Union citizen permanently. How does the process exactly go?

As you are from the EU, there is no need to request your visa at the consulate of your country of origin. You can directly travel and enter Spain without any problem, and initiate the procedure there. 

You will need to book an appointment at the Police Office. Depending on which region you are based in, you must choose one office or the other. You can check which Immigration Office corresponds to your location here

What you will have to do there is obtain your “Tarjeta de Identificación del Extranjero”, also called TIE. We are talking about the document that demonstrates your registration on the Central Registry of Foreign Nationals. 

On the day of your appointment, you must bring the following documents: 

  • Your passport (a valid one) and copy of it.
  • The document that certifies the possession of sufficient economic funds.  Also, if you come with your family and they are dependent on you, you must also need to demonstrate how you can handle their living expenses. 
  • Private or public health insurance contract. Bear in mind that the European Health Insurance card may be valid here. And, if you won’t work in Spain, you need to have a private one.
  • Applicants who are under 16 need to present a birth certificate.
  • Rental contract 
  • Padrón, the address register

After that, you will receive the “Certificado de registro como residente comunitario” (resident’s registry certificate for community citizens). That document will include your NIE number, as long as your name and address.

The NIE is the basic identification number that foreign citizens need in order to initiate any kind of legal procedure: like opening a bank account, buying a card, purchasing a property,…

So pay close attention to one important detail. As you have seen, unless you will buy a property or initiate any kind of utility contract, you don’t need to get the NIE beforehand: it will be given to you with your residence card.

That NIE is stamped on a card colored in green, hence its name “green card”. Bear in mind that the EU certificate doesn’t work as an ID: you need this green card and your passport to be identified against the authorities. 


residence permit for EU citizens












As we have just mentioned, one of the documents you will have to submit is the one demonstrating you have enough economic means to sustain your life in Spain. 

But how can you do that?

There are different ways here.

As a general rule, you can use an income statement, work contract, poof of your assets, etc. The most common method used is the presentation of a bank statement showing your income for the past 6 months

If you are a self-employed individual who has created a company, you need to demonstrate your company’s operations. 

In case you work for someone abroad, you must present the work contract in which the amount of money you earn can be seen. 

And, finally, if you receive a pension, show your pension statement




And what happens to the relatives of EU citizens moving to Spain? Can they also get their residency easily? 

It depends. 

If they are European Union citizens, from the EEA, or from Switzerland, the process will be exactly the same as we mentioned above. The advisable thing is to start a joint application and navigate trough each step altogether. 

And this will work for your spouse, registered civil partner, children under 21 years old or dependent relatives. 

But, what happens if those relatives are from a non-European Union country?

Then the procedure is a bit more complicated. In this case, they will need to get a regular residence permit, the permit as a family member of a European Union citizen

There are several differences when it comes to getting this visa. The process must be initiated at the Spanish consulate located in the country of origin. There, the kinship relationship must be accredited throughout the relevant documentation. 

Hence, you can now understand why constituting a civil partnership in Spain with your non-EU partner is so important.  It can grant him or her the possibility to become a Spanish resident easily. 




And, finally, the last consideration to move to Spain with your family: ensuring you can become a legal worker. 

Again, there is no need to obtain a work permit as an EU citizen residing in the Spanish territory. Due to the Schengen agreements, you have already been granted the possibility to work in the country. 

 You can find more information regarding the work permit in Spain and the different working visas here.

Nevertheless, you may have to register on social security. 

In case you work for a company, it will be your employer who does it, and you will pay for it monthly via a discount on your salary.

But, if you become a self-employed individual in Spain, you must enroll yourself. You can easily do it on the Social Security’s site here.  




These have been all the legal steps any European Union citizen must take in order to get their residency in Spain. 

And we are not talking about a complicated process. 

Nevertheless, you may still want to receive some help. And that is what we are here for. 

Our specialized team of lawyers in Spain is ready to help you out. We will manage the whole application procedure for you and your family so you don’t need to worry about anything. 

We will guide you through each step, prepare the documents for you, submit them to the competent authority and receive your residence authorization. 

Are you ready to start your new life?



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