Residencia All your questions answered

For details on how to apply and fill in the forms etc


Residency and visas

You must register as a Spanish resident if you want to stay in Spain for more than 3 months. You will get a green A4 certificate or credit card-sized piece of paper from Extranjeria or the police.

Residency when the UK leaves the EU

If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, any UK national arriving in Spain before 31 December 2020 will be able to register as resident in Spain under the current rules and will have their right to residence in Spain protected for as long as they remain living here.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, any UK national residing in Spain before the date the UK leaves will be considered legally resident for a period of 21 months, irrespective of whether they currently hold a residency document.

In some parts of Spain UK nationals are currently unable to register as a resident as appointments are not available. If you don’t yet have a residence certificate, the is to make sure you have proof you were living here before we leave the EU (eg padrón registration), and to keep checking the online appointment system for new appointments.

After the UK leaves the EU, in any scenario, you will need to change your registration document for a new card. For more information you can:

UK nationals arriving in Spain after the UK leaves the EU will have to meet the requirements of the general immigration regime. We will provide further information on this in due course.

General Questions and Answers.

What is it exactly?

“Getting residencia” is when you register as a resident in Spain with the Spanish national police (extranjería or local police station). You will also be given a green credit card size certificate that you will need to have on you at all times while in Spain.

If you have an A4 size green residency certificate, you have already registered as a resident. If you registered over 5 years ago, you can ask for permanent residency status. Permanent residents have more secured rights for the future, such as the right to access healthcare (please see here for information).

Do you already have a NIE, but it’s on a white piece of paper?

Sorry to say but you have not registered as a resident. this is your NIE number.  You will need to register as such with the National Police as soon as possible if you are living in Spain.

When do you need to get it?

Spanish law states that you should do it within the first three months of having moved to Spain. If you haven’t done it yet, complete the process as soon as possible.

What do you need to bring?

For EU nationals, it is quite straight forward. You will need to bring proof of healthcare cover ( such an S1 form or confirmation of the convenio especial, or a work contract) and proof of income (e.g. proof of pension). Please go to your nearest extranjería or police office for the complete list of all supporting documents. You can also find this list on the Spanish Ministry of the Interior’s website here (information in Spanish).

Why do you need it?

Having residencia secures your healthcare for the future. Did you know that when you have been registered as a resident for at least five years, you can then apply for permanent residency? Once you have that, you will always be covered for healthcare in Spain just like a Spanish resident. Please see residency-based healthcare for more information.

Is being on the padron the same or just as good as being registered as a resident?

No. Being registered as a resident means that you have secured your rights as a resident in Spain. You have registered on a national register.

Being registered on the padron means that you have registered with your local town hall and municipality. This means you have secured your rights to access local services. You have also secured funding for your council so they can provide those services.

You need to register on both.

How do I start?

You will need to make an appointment (cita previa) in order to register. In some areas there are month long waiting lists so please start the procedure as soon as possible. You can make an appointment to apply for residency, or to move onto permanent residency here.

Does it seem complicated?

If you are worried about the process you can hire a translator, a gestor or get a Spanish speaker to go along with you. If you live in an area where there are many foreigners or other British nationals the town hall can help you out too.

If you have any further queries on the above, you can contact the team: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


0 # Nicola Tweedle 2019-02-18 10:30
I lived in Spain from 1994-2007.
Ninety percent on contract for work and paying contributions.
Claimed two months of el parro before returming to UK.
When the time comes...Am i able to qualify for a pension to top up my British state one.
If so ??
Many thanks
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0 # Tracy Ann 2019-02-18 12:32
In order to qualify for the minimum state Spanish pension, you must have worked and paid Spanish social security contributions for at least 15 years. In order to claim a full Spanish pension rate, however, you must have worked and contributed for at least 35 years and six months.

You would need to contact the Social Security office to find our if you are due anything.
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0 # Aimee 2019-04-07 13:50
I’ve lived near Barcelona since February and my contract for work ends in June, I have got all the relevant paperwork etc but I’m wanting to stay in Spain and work but in a different place... with The UK leaving EU would I still be able to do this since I already have residence card...would I simply have to just register on the padron in the new town I’m hoping to live?

When I went to Igualada to get the residence card they said it was for life and I wouldn’t have to go back, now with brexit would this be no longer true?

The whole thing is super confusing!

Any kind of help would be much appreciated
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0 # Tracy Ann 2019-04-07 13:57
If you already have residencia then yes you dont need to panic, if you have had it for more than 5 years it can be changed for permanente residency. We will all have to change our residency cards in time to a TIE card, when we know full details on how we all need to go about this we will produce a webpage with full instructions. All you need to do when you move is apply for a new padron. Good luck with your move x
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