Regularising my residence

With regard to residence in Spain there are two types of legal status.The first is EU Legal Status which applies to the majority of European Union citizens. For citizens from other countries, Foreign Legal Status is applied.

Community Residence

This applies to nationals from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Denmark, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Romania and Sweden. Also to nationals from Switzerland and the European Economic Space: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

European Union or European Economic Area nationals must apply for registration on the Central Register for Foreigners. If residence is going to be longer than three months, they will be issued with a registration certificate. For this, proof of employment or of economic means must be provided.

EU legislation applies to the following relatives of the citizens of the countries mentioned:

  • To the spouse as long as the agreement or statement of the marriage or divorce being null and invalid has not lapsed.
  • To the couple that has a relationship similiar to that of a marriage registered in a public registry established to this effect in a member state of the UE or a state belonging to the European Economic Space and as long as that registration has not been cancelled.
  • To the direct descendants and those of the spouse or registered couple as long as the agreement or the statement of the marriage or divorce being null and invalid has not lapsed, minors under 21 years of age, dependent or incapable of age adults.
  • To the direct parents/grandparents and those of the spouse or registered couple as long as the agreement or statement of the marriage or divorce being null and invalid has not lapsed.
  • For the parents of a minor, who is a national of one of the countries of the EU.

The relatives of EU nationals do have to apply for the European Union’s Citizens’ Relatives’ Card and are subject to the same conditions of entry as other foreigners. Equally it is necessary to prove employment status and economic means (if these requirements cannot be fulfilled, a permit based on family ties) may be applied for).

The permit they obtain is valid for five years.

The application authorises residence and to work for others or to be self-employed.

Brexit and the right to reside in Spain

The European Union-United Kingdom Withdrawal Agreement envisages that UK nationals and their relatives who are nationals of third party countries will keep their rights to residence, work, study and Social Security as long as they have been residing in Spain before the 31st December 2020.

The registration certificate and the Relatives of EU Citizen Cards that British citizens and their relatives are holders of are valid documents for certifying their legal residence in Spain. Nonetheless, British citizens and their relatives residing in Spain may apply for a standardised format residence document, the (TIE), which certifies their condition as beneficiaries of the rights contained in the Withdrawal Agreement. To apply for this residence document:

  • If you are the holder of a temporary or permanent registration certificate, the residence document should be applied for through the police.
  • If you are not a holder of a registration certificate, said certificate can be applied for at the Foreign Nationals Office.

British nationals who arrive after the 31st December will have different rights, those that are recognised in the agreements concerning the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom or failing that, those that are recognised by Spanish legislation in relation to non-European Union citizens.


The registration certificate for EU residents can be applied for at the Foreign Nationals Department in the National Police Station.

The European Union Citizen's Relative's Card can be applied for at the Foreign Nationals' Office.

Foreign Legal Status

A foreign person can be in Spain in situation of stay or in residence situation.

Foreign Legal Status pertains to all foreigners who are not EU member state nationals or relatives of EU member state nationals and those who are not applying for asylum and refuge.

As a general rule all the Permits under Foreign Legal Status entail a previous concession of the corresponding visa which may be applied for at the Spanish diplomatic delegation in the countries of origin.

There are two types of permits: Work and Residence Permits and Residence Permits.

Residence Permits can be of the following types:

A permit for investigation and research is also available which does not imply residence but a time of stay.


More information

Foreign Nationals’ Identity Card

This card shows the Work and Residence Permit and the Residence Permit. It may be applied for when the permits have actually been obtained.

The card shows the photograph, fingerprint and Foreign National Identity Number (NIE) and other data.