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Spain - Registration and Residency
A person who applies for full residency can enjoy a number of benefits (beneficio). For example, if you purchase then sell your home in Spain you may be liable for capital gains tax if you have not applied for residency. You will also find it easier to transfer large sums of money in and out of the country. Those without a residency permit can have their cars impounded if they are stopped for a traffic offence and pensioners who have a residency permit are entitled to the same discounts when shopping and travelling as Spanish pensioners.
In order to make an application the individual must go to the police station (comisaría) and state that they wish to apply for residency status. They will provide you with the list of documentation that is needed for the application and the form to be completed. This is known as Solicitud de Tarjeta en Regimen Comuniario. You will also be given a form which needs to be completed by your Spanish bank. This gives details of your bank account which confirms that you can support yourself and will not need the help of the Spanish welfare system.
When your forms are completed you can take them back to the police station along with photocopies of the bank form, your medical form plus photocopies, a certificate from the town hall which shows you are on the electoral register (censo de votantes), your passport and a photocopy and a number of passport photos. Other documents that may be requested include a copy of your tenancy agreement if you are renting a property and a copy of your contract of employment. It is also advantageous to have private health insurance in place as well as proof that you do not have a criminal record (antecendentes penales). Those who are married or who are applying for this status in order to be with family should have a marriage certificate or other documentation which proves the family relationship. The amount of documentation that is requested will depend a great deal on your personal circumstances.
All those who are applying for residency must make a separate application with all their documents and must appear in person at the police station. The total amount payable will depend upon the number of people applying. There are changes in place to streamline the application process and make the issuing of certificates or cards much easier. In some circumstances the certificate (certificado) can be issued within hours and now the system is one of registering on a ‘Foreigner’s Register’. Most expats qualify for a simple certificate, although the residents of some countries will need to provide the documentation already listed here and go through a vigorous application process.
To assist you with paperwork, you may wish to enlist the services of an official known as a 'Gestor'. Although not a lawyer, the Gestor will get you the desired result with minimum hassle - particularly recommended for those without fluent Spanish or simply baffled by the Spanish administration system! Fees are usually reasonable but find out the total cost before you engage them, as results are not immediate. Sometimes the Gestor will ask for the whole fee in advance. Your nearest Gestor's office (known as Gestorias) can be found in the Spanish Yellow Pages: http://www.paginasamarillas.es
You may be asked to provide further documentation before your residence certificate is issued, but you will be informed of the date when your certificate will be ready, although this is normally very fast. When you are applying for a renewal of an existing residence permit you will need to show that your personal circumstances have not changed, so if you have changed jobs or moved then you will need to declare this.
A Certificate of Residence for Foreigners is compulsory if you are any of the following:
- A pensioner retiring to Spain (who has never worked there)
- A person of independent means (i.e. not employed or self-employed)
- A non-EU national dependant of an EU or Spanish national Residence cards (as distinct from the Certificate of
Residence for Foreigners) are no longer required for EU citizens although they are available if desired. There are two types of residence card in Spain:
- Temporary residence card - if you intend to stay between 3 months and 1 year
- Permanent residence card - if you intend to stay between 1 and 5 years. Valid for a maximum of 5 years and renewable after that.
To apply for a residence card, collect an application form from your nearest National Police Station (Comisaría de Policía Nacional) or Foreigner's Office (Oficina de Extranjeros). Once completed, submit the forms to either the Foreigner's Office or a National Police Station with a Foreigners' department, together with 3 passport size photographs, your passport (valid for at least six months) and a photocopy of it, medical certificate (if required) and proof of financial support. Cards are issued at the discretion of the Spanish authorities.
Residency in Spain is also linked to tax and if you meet certain criteria it is known as ‘fiscal residence’. If you are in the country for more than 183 days of a calendar year you are considered to be resident and liable for taxes, regardless of whether or not you have the residence permit. This is mainly for those who travel between countries. If you go to Spain with the intention of spending the majority of your time there you could be considered to be liable for taxes immediately. Those who apply for the residence permit should be aware that this is considered to be evidence of intent to remain and will count against the individual if they try to claim that they are not liable for taxes.
A person could also be considered to be a Spanish resident if they are married to a person who is a Spanish citizen, resident or simply living in the country. To disassociate yourself from this, any separation from your spouse should be done legally. It is a good idea to take some official advice if you are unsure of your residency status.
Those who live and work in Spain and who make contributions to the Social Security system will find that they are entitled to Spanish healthcare benefits if they apply for the residency certificate.
Those who come from countries outside the EU are advised to contact the Spanish embassy in their home country before they decide to travel, as the requirements for residency can differ greatly depending upon the applicant’s country of origin.
Registering on the Padron at your Town Hall
The padrón is a list of people who live in a town. All residents in Spain are - officially - required to add themselves to the padrón (a process called ""empadronarse"" in Spanish) and this can be done by filling in a form at the padrón office of your local town hall. To complete the process you will need to take the following with you:
- Official ID (e.g. passport)
- NIE or residence certificate/card
- a recent utility bill in your name
- house deeds or copy of rental contract
Registering on the padrón is not only an official requirement, it also brings a number of benefits such as access to some aspects of social care (after a certain period of time), potential reductions in a number of charges and taxes, discounts on courses/activities organised by the Town Hall and also voting rights in local and European elections. The padrón certificate is also required for other things such as healthcare, education and obtaining Spanish number plates for your car.
Ministry for Employment and Immigration
http://www.mtin.es/en/index.htm (not all of website is translated into English)
Tel: + 34 91 363 00 00
British Consulate Madrid
Tel: + 34 91 524 97 00
British Consulate Barcelona
Tel: + 34 93 366 62 00
British Consulate Bilbao
Tel: + 34 94 415 76 00
British Consulate Malaga
Tel: + 34 952 35 23 00
US Consulate Barcelona
Tel: + 34 93 280 22 27
US Consulate Seville
Tel: + 34 95 421 87 51
US Consulate Valencia
Tel: + 34 96 351 69 73
US Consulate Malaga
Tel: + 34 95 247 48 91
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