Find out if you need a Spanish visa or permit to visit, live, work or study in Spain.
You may need to apply for a visa or other permit if you want to visit, live, work or study in Spain. This essential guide will help you find out which Spanish permits you need depending on your nationality and situation. The information given here is for guidance only and you should seek specific advice from the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country for your specific circumstances.
Who needs a visa or permit for Spain?
Under the Freedom of Movement Act, if you’re a national from one of the countries in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) – that is, all the countries of the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – or Switzerland, you don’t need a visa or other permit to visit, live, work or study in Spain. The one exception is that citizens from the ‘new’ EU nation of Croatia will need work permits probably up until June 30, 2020.
EU/EEA and Swiss citizens do need to register with the authorities and get a national identity number.
Everyone else will need a visa, and if you want to work, in most cases, a work permit.
Entry and short-term visas for Spain
Spain is one of 26 countries making up the ‘Schengen’ area: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland. They have one common visa and no border controls between them.
There are three types of visa allowing entry to Spain:
- Airport transit visa.
- Short-stay Schengen visa.
- Long-term visa.
Airport transit visa for Spain
An airport transit (visado de transito aeroportuario) allows you into the international transit zone in a Spanish airport. Not everyone needs one but to check whether you do, check the information and list atwww.exteriores.gob.es. You’ll need to apply for a transit visa through the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country.
Short-stay visa for Spain
A short-stay Schengen visa (visado de corta duracion) allows you to stay in Spain – but not work – for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.
If you have a Schengen visa issued by another Schengen state you can also come and stay in Spain for 90 days.
Nationals from the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand don’t need a short-stay visa to enter Spain but will need to apply for a long-term residence visa to stay longer than three months.
You can renew your short-term visa at your local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or Police station as long as you will be staying in Spain for a total of less than 90 days. You can’t come to Spain on a short-stay visa as a visitor and change your status to employee, student or resident from within Spain – you have to return to your home country and apply for a new visa from there.
Long-term Spanish residence and work visas
There are different residence and work permit types, depending on the purpose of your stay:
- a combined residence and work visa (visado de trabajo y residencia) allowing you to live and work in Spain;
- a student visa (visado de estudios) for the duration of a educational or training course;
- a residence visa (visado de residencia) for family reunification or retirement.
There is a youth mobility agreement between Spain and Canada for young people aged 18 to 35 to visit Spain to travel and work for up to a year.
You can apply for a long-term visa from the Spanish consulate or embassy in your home country, or sometimes online on their websites before you come to Spain. The application must be made in person or through an accredited representative, and you usually have to pay a non-refundable fee of around EUR 60. Allow plenty of time for the consulate to process your application – check with yours for the timescale – and you or your representative must collect it in person.
New fast-track visa
As of 2014, non-EU national investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers can now apply for fast-track visas and permits, which offer preferential treatment, such as automatic residence for the whole family with no minimum stay, and free travel throughout the Schengen visa region. However there are conditions to fulfil for each category, for example, investors may need to spend EUR 500,000 on a Spanish property.
Once you have been living legally in Spain for a year and have received official confirmation that you will be staying for a further year, you can apply for family members (for example, spouse, common law partner, and dependants, including children under 18 and parents over 65) to join you in Spain.
If you hold a long-term residence permit from another EU member state (an EU Blue Card), you can apply at any time.
Students can apply for their family members to join them while studying in Spain. The relatives’ residence permits are usually granted for the same duration as the student’s residence permit, and allow the holders over 18 to take on employment in Spain without a work permit.
Permanent residency in Spain
After five uninterrupted years of residence, you can apply for a long-term or permanent residence. If you hold a Blue Card from another EU-member state, and have lived elsewhere in the EU for the same period, this also entitles you to long-term residence in Spain. A long-term residence permit allows you to stay in Spain indefinitely, working or otherwise, under the same conditions as Spanish citizens.
You can apply for Spanish nationality after 10 years of residence in Spain. You can also acquire Spanish nationality through marriage or through having Spanish parents even if they were born outside Spain.
Studying in Spain
If you want to come and study, carry out research or training, take on an internship or voluntary work in Spain you have to find a course or programme that will accept you first – and then you can apply for a visa to come to Spain.
Unless you’re a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland you’ll need a longer-term national visa (visado nacionale) if you intend to live, work, study or carry out research in Spain for longer than three months. This will depend on your purpose of stay, as detailed below.