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 an identity number for foreigners — an NIE (Número de Identificación de Extranjeros) — 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 Extranjería (Department of Foreigners) in your city of residence. Once there, you must present the following documents:
- the original application form and a copy thereof
- your passport and a copy of the information page
- for non-EU residents, documents indicating the reason they need an NIE (e.g. purchasing a house, business purposes)
- a fee of 10 USD (2014) paid by money order
The process of obtaining an NIE, which needs to be completed by both EU nationals and non-EU citizens, should take no longer than three weeks.
Three Months in Spain without a Visa?
Non-EU citizens whose home country has entered into 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 many Latin American countries and more, such as Andorra, Australia, Brunei, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States.
Visas 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:
- Family reunification visa (visado de reagrupación familiar): this visa applies to people who are married or related (sibling, child under 18, parent) to a Spanish citizen.
- Work visa (visado de residencia y trabajo por cuenta ajena): please contact your employer when applying for a working visa, as you will need to supply an employment contract to the authorities.
- Student visa (visado de estudiantes): 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 (visado de turismo): 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 your consular service’s 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.
Public Transportation — One Thing You Don’t Have to Worry About
Generally speaking, Spain has a very advanced system of public transportation. Barcelona’s tram, metro, and bus networks are well organized and together they get you to all parts of the city. As for Madrid, its metro system is extensive and caters to the entire city aided by other forms of public transportation such as buses. Also, 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. For more detailed information on these two popular cities among expats, check out our guides on living in Madrid and moving to Barcelona.
As many Spanish people prefer to live outside the city and commute to work, buses and trains connecting larger cities and suburbs are widely used. The national train company RENFE connects all regions of the Spanish mainland. If you prefer being behind the wheel yourself, commuting by car is, of course, also an option. Check out our guide to driving in Spain for more details on general regulations and importing vehicles. Several ferry companies offer passenger services from the mainland to the Canary Islands and the Baleares.
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