Types of Visa Spain

Expats visiting or moving to Spain will need to have the correct visa before arriving. However, Spain is a Schengen state which means most foreigners will not need a visa for short visits and business trips.

Spain is one of the countries which make up the Schengen area along with 26 other countries such as Austria, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and many more. The 26 countries in the Schengen area have one common visa and there is no border which controls them

The three types of visas which allow entry:

  • Short stay Schengen visa
  • Long term visa
  • Airport transit visa

Short stay visa – The short stay visa will allow a person to stay in the country for 90 days in a 180 day period. Those with this visa will not be able to work. Nationals who are from Australia, Canada or the US will be required to apply for a long term residence visa to stay for three months or more.

An application form will need to be completed and you will need to visit the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.

You will need to visit the local foreigner’s office or the police station to renew a short term visa as long as you are staying in the country for less than 90 days. Foreigners are unable to come to Spain on a short term visa as a visitor and change your status to student, employee or resident. You will need to visit your home country to apply for a new visa.

Long Term Visa – If you are not a citizen of the EU/EEA you will need a long term visa if you will be living, studying or working in Spain for three months or more.

Airport Transit Visa – An airport transit visa will allow you into the international transit zone in one of the Spanish airports. You will need to check if you require one and to apply it will need to be done through the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.

Visit and Business visas

Expats who are citizens of EU, EFTA and nationals belonging to a country on the Spanish governments list are able to obtain a visa-free entry and the right to stay 90 days in the country. A passport which is valid for three months from the final date of travel is required. Citizens will not need a business visa or a visit visa.

The Spanish list includes New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada, the countries that are not on the list will need to apply for a Schengen visa for business and tourist purposes. The Schengen visa will allow citizens to travel in the country for 90 days within a six month period from date of entry

Individuals who apply for this visa will need to submit a visa application form with the required documents and take this an embassy or Spanish consulate in the home country.

Those who apply for a Schengen visa to travel solely for business purposes will be required to show an invitation letter from the Spanish business party as well as a letter from the employer stating what the duties will be in the country. Proof of registration and accommodation will also be necessary if attending a conference event.

Long Term Visa/Work Permits

Depending on the purpose of staying in Spain, there are different residences and work permits that expats will need to submit. These include:

  • A combined residence and work visa which allow you to live and work in Spain
  • A residence visa for retirement or family reunification
  • A student visa for the length of a training/educational course

Applications for a long term visa can be done online or through the Spanish embassy or consulate in the citizen’s home country before arriving in Spain. A fee of EUR 60 will need to be made and applications must be made in person or through a representative

Expats who are aged between 18 and 35 in Canada have the opportunity to travel and work for up to one year in Spain with the youth mobility agreement.

Swiss, EEA and EU citizens are able to work without a work permit in Spain until June 2020, it is the responsibility of the expats employer to apply for a work permit on their behalf and it is compulsory to get a work offer and a work contract before this can be done.

Family members who are joining a relative in Spain or individuals who are doing voluntary work will not need a work permit. To work in Spain legally expats need to be over 18.

Types of work permits

In Spain there are two types of work permits

  • The Cuenta Ajena work permit is given to individuals who have a specific contract for a certain company. This work permit is generally easier to obtain and is often recommended that expats secure this permit and then apply for the Cuenta Propia.
  • The Cuenta Propia is for self employed expats who want more freedom to move between companies and positions around the world. For those who are in the education or language sectors will require this permit. When applying for this permit, it requires the expat to register with Hacienda(the Spanish revenue service) and Seguridad Social (Spanish social security).

Family Reunification

Expats who have been living in Spain legally for a year and has confirmation of living for another year in the country can apply for family members to join. This includes spouses, partners, dependants, children under 18 and parents over the age of 65.

Those who hold a long term residence permit from EU member state can apply for a family reunification at any time.

Individuals who are studying in Spain can apply for family members to join them for the duration. This is a relative’s residence permit and will only be approved for the same amount of time the students residence permit is. Family members of students who are aged over 18 will be able to work without a work permit.

Student Visas

Nationals from countries who are not from the EU, EEA or Switzerland will need to apply for a student visa if wanting to do an internship, training, carry out research or study in the country. Students must be accepted on a course with an official institution before applying for a student visa. To apply for a Spanish visa, the student will be required to show a letter of acceptance to the consulate or Spanish embassy in your home country.

  • Students studying in Spain for 3 months will need to fulfil the legal conditions which are in the European Directive before applying for a visa to study in Spain for 3 months with the Spanish embassy.
  • Students who are studying for 6 months in Spain will need to apply for a type D visa. Without the visa students will not be able to gain a residence card and if an extension is required a Form 02 can be filed.
  • Students who will be studying in the country for more than 6 months will also need to apply for a type D visa which will allow validity for 3 months after entering. When the student is in Spain, they will be required to apply for a student permit card within 30 days. This will allow the student to remain in the country until after the visa has expired.

Retirement Visa

It is necessary for nationals who want to retire in Spain to have a visado de residencia from the local Spanish embassy in home country. Checks will need to be done on retiree’s pensions to ensure they have sufficient funds along with other terms & conditions.

Fast Track Visa

From 2014 non EU national entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers are able to apply for a fast track visa and permit. This offers residence to a family with no minimum stay along with free travel throughout the Schengen area.  The conditions for this may include investors needing to spend at least EUR 500,000 on Spanish property. If you require more information regarding this expats are advised to contact the Spanish embassy or consulate in the home country.

Permanent residency

Individuals who have stayed in Spain for five years can apply for a long term or permanent residence. Those who have a blue card from a different EU member state or have lived in a country in the EU for the same amount of time will also be entitled to obtain a long term residence in Spain.

Long term residence permits allows expats to stay in the country for an indefinite period and can work in the same conditions as Spanish citizens.

After ten years of permanent residency individuals will be eligible to apply for Spanish nationality, this can also be obtained through marriage or for children who were born outside of Spain but have Spanish parents.