Types and Requirements for Residence Permits in Spain: Temporary vs Long-Term
There are two types of residence permits, each with different requirements:
- The temporary one, which is an authorization to stay in Spain for a period of more than 90 days and less than 5 years; it can be renewed, according to the circumstances that motivated the authorization and the long term or permanent one, the latter is the one we are going to focus on.
- The long-term residence permit in Spain, or permanent residence, will allow the applicant to stay legally in the country under the same conditions as Spanish residents. It will also allow the applicant to work in Spain indefinitely.
Foreign citizens that have been in Spain for 5 years continuously, will have the right to obtain a permanent residence, but they must also comply with a list of legal requirements that will be explained later on.
Periods of previous continuous residence in the national territory will be taken into account. Vacation or leaving the country temporarily, will not be deducted from the 5 year requirement.
Residence card application is not the same for EU citizens as for non-EU citizens.
Resident requirements are for non-EU foreigners, since citizens of the European Union, EEA and Switzerland have the right to enter, leave, move and reside freely in Spanish territory.
General requirements to apply for a residence permit
The requirements are as follows:
Obtain an NIE number, it will allow the applicant to carry out procedures with public and private administrations, contract banking services, buy real estate, create companies,……
- The applicant must not be a EU citizen, neither from the European Economic Area (countries of the European Union plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) nor from Switzerland.
- Not to be a relative of citizens of the countries mentioned in the previous paragraph, to which the regime of citizen of the Union is applicable.
- Must be legally in Spanish territory.
- Should not have a criminal record in Spain or in their countries of previous residence, for crimes considered in the Spanish legal system.
- Must not be prohibited from entering Spain.
- Must not be subject to deportation to countries with which Spain has signed an agreement in such sense.
- Should not to be within the 3-year period of the commitment of non-return to Spain assumed by foreigners who at some point decided to return to their countries of origin within the voluntary return program.
What are the documents to be submitted?
- Proof of payment of the corresponding stamp duty.
- The presentation of the completed form EX-11. And EX-17 for renewal.
- Current residency card (the one that is about to expire).
- Original passport and copy.
- And prove that the applicant has lived in Spain for the last 5 years uninterruptedly. (Such as a rental contract. In addition, tax returns or pay slips will also be valid to prove that one has been working in the country).
Step by step on how to obtain permanent residency in Spain
Let’s suppose that you are a person who has just moved to the country, so the first thing you will have to do is to get your first visa as this will allow you to reside and work legally in Spain, for a period of 1 year. This permit is called a residence and work authorization.
Once the year has passed, you will have to renew it and the next thing you will get is a residence permit but this time for a period of two years.
When those two years are over (you have been in Spain for 3 years), you will have to renew it for two more years, until you have a total of 5 years.
Once you have completed those 5 years, you will be able to have a permanent residence card that will allow you to reside and work in the country for 5 more years.
It is advisable to start this process 2 months before the expiration date of your residence permit as sometimes the process can be slow.
Once you have sent the necessary documents, you will receive a letter in 3 months indicating the approval of the permit. You will then have to go to the Police Office to have your fingerprints taken and you will be given a receipt which you will present along with your ID and old card after 30 days at the initial Police Office to pick it up.
The acquisition of the residency allows the holder to remain outside of Spain for 6 months without any legal problems. This period of time can be extended to a full year within the 5 year time frame during which the permanent residency is valid. This means that, adding up all the time you can be out of the country, this cannot exceed a total of one year with respect to the 5 years you are legally allowed to reside in Spain with the card.
It is a really simple process. The permanent residence card is renewed 5 years after it is obtained. You just have to go to the police office, have your fingerprints taken and renew the document.
Problems that may arise in the computation of the years.
Not all the years you have lived in Spain count the same, since depending on the permit you have, you will have to reside 5 or more than 5 years to be able to acquire permanent residence.
As an example:
If you have been residing in Spain with a student visa, the years count half, that is 50% and this is because it is not really a residence permit, but an authorization for you to live in Spain while you carry out your studies.
If you have the certificate of registration of EU citizens, each of the years that you have been for example in another European country counts as 1, but with one condition and that is that in order to apply for permanent residence you must have been living in Spain for the last two years prior to the application.