Citizens of the European Union (EU), the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not need a visa to visit, live and work in Spain. Citizens of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and a number of other countries – those that have a treaty with the Schengen area (of which Spain is a member) – do not require a visa to visit for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. This applies whether you are travelling for tourist or business purposes. However, if you want to stay longer, or if you want to take up employment or education in the country, you will need a temporary residence permit and a long-stay visa. A full list of eligible countries can be found on the Schengen Area website. Citizens of all other countries must have a valid visa before they may enter Spain.
If you come from a country that does not have a treaty with Spain or the Schengen Area, but you already hold a residence permit from another Schengen country, or from the USA, Canada, Japan, or any other country that guarantees you within the Schengen Area, you do not need to apply for a visa for a visit of up to 90 days. This is also the case if you are the spouse or child (under 21) of a Schengen Area citizen.
If you do not meet this criteria, you must apply for a visa before you can enter the country. There are several different types, depending on the nature of your visit, and these can be found on embassy websites.
You must apply at least 15 working days before you intend to travel, but it would be better to allow three to four weeks for the process if possible, and for nationals of some countries, it can take longer. You will need to book an appointment at the Spanish embassy or consulate, or authorised Spanish Visa Application Centre in your home country. You must then complete the application form, which can be downloaded from embassy websites, and must include your personal information, the reason for your visit and other details relevant to your trip.
In all cases, your application must be supported with:
• A valid passport – this must run for at least three months longer than the duration of your intended stay, and must have at least two blank pages
• A recent passport-size photograph of yourself – this must be no more that three months old, and should adhere to passport standards
• Proof of your residence in your home country or the country you are currently living in long-term
• Proof of your travel arrangements and itinerary
• Proof of your employment or student status – if you are self-employed, proof should either be in the form of a recent, official letter from a registered accountant, banker or solicitor, confirming your self-employment, or an equivalent letter from the tax authority in your country
• Proof of sufficient financial means to support yourself while in Spain
• Proof of sufficient medical insurance for the duration of your visit
Additional documentation may be required, depending on what type of visa you are applying for. For tourist visas, you will need proof of reserved accommodation. Full details of the additional materials required for different Schengen visas can be found on the Schengen visa website. At the time of writing, the fee for a short-stay visa is €80 (£67/$87).
If you are not an EU or EEA citizen, you will need a visa, and relevant permits, to live and work in Spain. You can apply in person at the Spanish embassy or consulate in your home country. You cannot apply for this visa before you have an employment contract with an employer within Spain, and your potential employer must apply on your behalf to the Spanish Immigration Office (Extranjería) for approval of your work permit and residence permit.
Alongside your completed visa application form, you must supply:
• A passport that will remain valid for at least six months
• A recent passport-size photograph of yourself
• Proof of your legal residence in your home country or current place of residence
• A letter from the Extranjería addressed to your future employer, approving your work and residence permit
• An apostilled police report from the area where you have resided for the last year
• An up-to-date medical report on official stationery, translated into Spanish
• A money order, or cash, to pay the visa fee – at the time of writing, this is €167 ($180) for US nationals, €100 (CAN$143) for Canadians, and €80 (£67) for other nationalities
You should allow around seven working days for this visa to be processed. Once you have been legally resident in Spain for a year, you can apply for a family reunification visa to allow your spouse and dependent children to join you.
Self-Employment Or Investor Visa
If you possess suitable skills or wish to set up a business in Spain, you can apply for a self-employment or investor visa. You will need to supply the usual documents regarding your citizenship, criminal record and health. You must also have a viable business plan, which should include details of your projected financial turnover and any jobs you will create. You will also need proof of your relevant skills and qualifications. You must supply evidence that you are on a sound financial footing, and you must demonstrate that you are aware of and will be applying for all relevant permits and licenses. In addition, you must obtain and complete an official form EX01 to request authorisation for you to become self-employed and reside in Spain. Your police report and certificates of qualification must be apostilled.
You should allow two to three months for your application to be processed. The fees payable vary depending on the nature of your business or self-employment proposal.
Spain is an attractive retirement destination, and is quite welcoming to expats wishing to retire there. You may apply for a retirement visa if you have a provable and sustainable income of at least $2,500/£1910 a month or $30000/£23,200 annually. You must also arrange health insurance cover for yourself and any dependants. Retirement visas take three to five weeks to process and attract a fee of €123/ $140 for US citizens, €507/CAN $724 for Canadians, and €80/£67 for other nationals.
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