Spain at a Glance
Visa Requirements for Spain
Getting an Identity Number
There are different requirements for EU nationals and non-EU citizens moving to Spain. If you move to Spain as an EU citizen (or a national of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, or Switzerland), you only need a valid passport or national identity card. An application for a NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros), an identity number for foreigners, is also required for EU citizens moving to Spain for a period longer than three months. If you are contemplating buying or renting property, opening a bank account and working, you will need an NIE.
To apply for the NIE, you need to go either to the national police department or to the Oficina de Extranjeros (Department of Foreigners) in your city of residence. There, you must present the following documents:
- The original application form
- A copy of said form
- Your passport with a photo
- The address where you are currently residing (which may be that of an acquaintance)
- The reason for your move to Spain
The application process, which needs to be completed by both EU nationals and non-EU citizens, may take from one up to five weeks until you finally receive your NIE.
Visa Requirements for Non-EU Nationals
Non-EU citizens whose home country has a special agreement with Spain may move to Spain and live there without applying for a visa for up to 90 days. It is important to note that visas are never issued within Spain, so be sure to apply for a visa in your home country before moving to Spain if you are planning on staying longer than three months.
The aforementioned non-visa countries include the following: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, the United States, Uruguay, the Vatican, and Venezuela.
Visa Categories for Non-EU Nationals
There are several different types of visas for Spain. Here is a brief overview for you to determine which one applies to you:
- Visa de reagrupación familiar: This visa applies to people who are married or related (sibling, child under 18, parent) to a Spanish citizen.
- Work visa: Please contact your employer when applying for a working visa, as you will need to supply an employment contract to the authorities. Please also visit the Consular Services website for more specific information.
- Student visa: You must be enrolled in a school or a university, or in an exchange program in order to obtain a student visa. Students’ stays may exceed 90 days. If you apply for a student visa, you may simultaneously apply for visas for your spouse and children under 18.
- Tourist visa: Non-EU citizens and foreign nationals whose country of origin does not have a special agreement with the Schengen countries (see above) need to apply for this visa if they intend to enter Spain. It is valid only up to 90 days. A downloadable PDF version of the application form can be found on the Consular Services website.
Please be sure to contact the local Spanish embassy for further information and exact details on the visa you need to apply for. Visit the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information.
Generally speaking, Spain has a very advanced system of public transportation. Larger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona offer a well thought-out subway network and bus system. There are also plenty of taxis. Contrary to some other European countries, you usually do not need to be afraid of fraud as most taxis are metered or a fixed price is agreed upon beforehand.
Buses and trains connecting larger cities and suburbs are the rule, as many Spanish people prefer to live outside the city and commute to work. The national train company RENFE connects all regions of the Spanish mainland. Several ferry companies offer passenger services from the mainland to the Canary Islands and the Baleares.