Many non-EU citizens require a visa to enter Spain. If the stay is intended to be under three months (90 days), a tourist visa may be required. This is issued by the Spanish Embassy in the home country; it does not permit the holder to work or to stay longer than three months.
Currently citizens of the USA, Australia and New Zealand do not need a tourist visa to enter Spain (South Africans do), however if the intention is to stay, a residence visa is required.
Anyone arriving in Spain with the intention of staying longer than three months requires a Residence Visa (Visado de Residencia). This must be requested from and issued by the Spanish Embassy of the applicant's home country, before departure for Spain. It is different to the standard three-month tourist visa in that it allows the holder to begin the residency application process. Application for residency is not typically done with a tourist visa.
For those already in Spain seeking information about obtaining a residence visa, information is available from the Ministry of the Interior.
Citizens of non-EU countries wishing to stay in Spain for more than three months must apply for a Residency Permit/Card (Tarjeta de Residencia) within 30 days of arriving in the country. The application must be made at the Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or local police station in the province of intended residence.
The documentation required varies depending on the situation. Consult with the local Oficina de Extranjeros or police station to determine which documents are required.
The following documentation is required to apply for a Tarjeta de Residencia:
The following documentation may also be required (certified translations may be requested):
Once the application for a residence permit has been made, a stamped copy of the application is issued; the Residence Card should be issued within three to four months. Resident Cards may be renewed at the Foreigners Office. In the event of a change of address or personal circumstance, the local Oficina de Extranjeros or police station must be notified within 30 days.
The initial Residence Card is valid for one year; this can be renewed annually for up to five years.
For non-EU nationals with an EU-national family member who is resident or intending to become resident in Spain, see the section on Family Members of EU Citizens
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